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Sharde Collins + Imani Wright Power No. 14 Liberty-Eylau to Regional Tournament Berth

Liberty-Eylau’s Imani Wright fights through John Tyler’s defense during the Lady Leopards’ 60-53 semifinal win Friday at the Macy Chenevert Patriot Holiday Tournament at UT Tyler in late December. Wright and L-E beat Crandall 65-48 in Monday’s Class 3A Region II quarterfinal at Spring Hill High School. (Christopher Vinn, ETSN.fm)

LONGVIEW — When Liberty-Eylau’s two Division I-bound playmakers hit 18 of their first 23 shot attempts, the Lady Leopards are hard to beat.

Crandall discovered that Tuesday night at Spring Hill High School, where 14th-ranked Liberty-Eylau leaned on Sharde Collins and Imani Wright in a 65-48 Class 3A Region II quarterfinal victory. Liberty-Eylau (26-4) plays at 8 p.m. Friday night at Texas A&M-Commerce in a Region II semifinal against No. 5 Krum or No. 13 Argyle, which play 8 p.m. Tuesday at Texas Woman’s University in Denton.

Collins and Wright combined for 57 points, shooting 18-for-27 from the field and 17-for-20 from the free-throw line. Collins, who has signed with Arkansas-Little Rock, hit her first seven shots en route to scoring a career-high 31 points with seven rebounds.

“If we shoot like that, we’re gonna be tough to beat. We’ve had seven or eight games like that where they shoot tremendously well,” said L-E coach Rob Cochran. “T.K. Gorman’s a phenomenal team. We beat them twice and both times we shot well and played well. But it’s much easier said than done.”

Wright, a Baylor signee, scored 20 first-half points and finished with 26 points and nine rebounds. The duo combined for 37 first-half points to give Liberty-Eylau a 37-21 halftime advantage. Collins and Wright scored the Lady Leopards’ first 42 points before post Lauren Godfrey scored inside for a 44-26 lead halfway through the third quarter.

Godfrey complemented the perimeter exploits of Collins and Wright with six points and a game-high 10 rebounds, which led Liberty-Eylau’s 42-29 rebounding advantage that wasn’t as close as the 13-board margin indicated.

“I was more proud of the way we rebounded than anything because that’s the first thing that will get us beat because when we have problems sometimes it’s in the rebounding area because we get so spread out with all the pressure defensively,” Cochran said. “We did a good job of trying to make them make shots, then come back and rebound. I really thought that was the difference in the game when we separated. We were able to rebound and get out and run.

Brianna Whisenhunt’s 19 points led Crandall, which got seven points and four steals from Jaycee Fourkiller. Alex Harris had six points and three assists.

Collins and Wright hit their first nine shots to give L-E a 21-9 first-quarter lead, but Crandall closed the first on a 9-0 run to cut the deficit to three points. Leading 23-20, Collins and Wright scored the game’s next 14 points to take command. That led to the 37-21 halftime edge.

Crandall never got back within single digits. Liberty-Eylau’s lead ballooned to 24 points in the fourth quarter.

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