Liberty season preview | Girls basketball

Liberty’s Danni Sjolander goes up for a rebound against Newport Dec. 1. - Adam McFadden/Renton Reporter
Liberty’s Danni Sjolander goes up for a rebound against Newport Dec. 1.
— image credit: Adam McFadden/Renton Reporter

Returning nearly all of its key players from last season, the Liberty girls basketball team is excited to have another go at the KingCo after missing expectations last year.

“We were all disappointed in last year,” said Liberty coach Randy Leifer. “I thought we would do better and they thought we would do better.”

The Patriots went 8-13 and 3-7 in a very tough slate of non-league games.

“I thought it would help toughen us up, but it started undermining our confidence a little bit,” Leifer said. “We were a little younger then and they’re ready to meet that challenge now.”

Liberty has most of the players who combined for a balanced scoring attack last season. Danni Sjolander, Aspen Winegar and Maddie Birdsall all return after averaging between 7.4 and 10.5 points per game.

“It helps having that many options because we all have different strengths,” Sjolander said. “We have a lot of key players that could win a game for us.”

Sjolander, Winegar and Halie Ericksen all stand right around 6-feet tall, so the Patriots have plenty of size to work with inside.

Sjolander, a 6-foot-1 senior, is one of the KingCo’s top players. Her 7.2 rebounds and 10.5 points per game both led the team last year. Ericksen, also a senior, averaged 7.1 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.8 steals per game last year.

Winegar is a junior and averaged 5.0 rebounds and 10.0 points per game last year.

“I think we need to do a better job of getting the ball down low and taking advantage of our size,” Leifer said. “It’s just getting that balance. Last year we settled for shooting on the perimeter too much.”

In the backcourt, Birdsall, Sierra Carlson and Megan Tsutakawa will all get plenty of action.

Birdsall scored 7.4 points per game last year and led the team with 2.4 assists per game. Carlson is just a freshman, but Leifer is expecting big things.

The Patriots started this season 2-1 and 1-0 in league play. They faced Bellevue Dec. 8.

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