After playing nine games in the first four weeks of the season, the Olentangy Liberty High School girls basketball team is ready for the winter break.

After playing nine games in the first four weeks of the season, the Olentangy Liberty High School girls basketball team is ready for the winter break.

The Patriots, who were 1-7 overall and 0-4 in the OCC-Cardinal Division before playing Westerville North last Tuesday, will have nearly two weeks to regroup, as their next game is Jan. 3 at Franklin Heights.

"We need this break really badly," first-year coach Ron Florey said.

Sophomore guard Riley Long said the Patriots will have time to work on deficient areas of their game.

"We have a lot of practices to get better," she said.

A 72-31 loss to Olentangy last Saturday exposed some of the Patriots' weaknesses. Liberty committed 29 turnovers and fouled the Braves, who made 20 of 28 free throws, too often.

"I feel like tonight was mostly mental," Long said afterward. "It's a rivalry game and that had a part in it. They got to us."

"The kids have a good attitude, work hard and try to do the things we ask, but we don't have a lot of experience on the court," Florey said. "At times, I look out there and there's a freshman and four sophomores. Hopefully that bodes well for the future, but it's really tough when you play a veteran team like Olentangy."

After losing six games by more than 20 points during a 4-17 finish last year, the Patriots are playing closer games this season.

Except for a 63-30 loss to Olentangy Orange on Nov. 30, Liberty had been within nine points of every opponent before the Olentangy game.

However, the Patriots were dealt a severe blow in a 59-53 loss to Westerville South on Dec. 3. Senior Allyson VanGundy was in the midst of breaking school records for points (32) and free throws made in a game (17) when she tore the ACL in her right knee. The 5-foot-10 guard is not expected to return this season.

VanGundy was averaging 15.5 points and five assists a game.

"People ask me, 'How do you replace someone like that?'" Florey said. "You don't. Not many players in central Ohio have scored 32 points in a game this year, but we've kind of accepted it."

The Patriots have tried six or seven lineups, with junior Jalynn Guice and sophomores Long, Maddie Redwine and Kennedy Wilke all taking turns in VanGundy's spot. None of the players has the experience of the four-year letterwinner.

"I feel like we have all had to step up to replace the points that she had," Long said.

"The kids realize without her on the floor there's a real need for someone to step up and make plays," Florey said. "We were a little shell-shocked at first, but we have to come out attacking."

At a glance

Below are the recent results and coming schedules for Liberty, Olentangy and Orange girls basketball teams:

LIBERTY

*Last Saturday - Lost to Olentangy 72-31. Abbey Smith had seven points.

*Last Tuesday - Played Westerville North

*Jan. 3 - Home vs. Dublin Scioto. The Patriots lost to the Irish 47-36 and 53-38 last year.

Of note: The Patriots were 1-7 overall and 0-4 in OCC-Cardinal before last Tuesday.

OLENTANGY

*Last Saturday - Defeated Olentangy Liberty 72-31. Lydia Hyburg had 16 points.

*Last Tuesday - Played Dublin Jerome

Wednesday-Dec. 30 - At Liberty Township Lakota East Invitational

*Jan. 3 - Home vs. Westerville Central. The Braves defeated the Warhawks 50-25 and 40-31 last year.

Of note: The Braves were 4-1 overall and 2-1 in OCC-Cardinal before last Tuesday.

*OCC-Cardinal game

ORANGE

Dec. 13 - Lost to Northland 48-43. Taylor Agler and Mya Walker each scored 10 points.

*Last Friday - Def. New Albany 54-36. Kelsey Lewis had 19 points and Ashley Bassett-Smith added 14. The Eagles won the OCC-Capital last year.

*Last Tuesday - Played Watkins Memorial

Wednesday-Dec. 30 - At Centerburg Holiday Tournament

*Jan. 3 - At Franklin Heights. The Pioneers defeated the Falcons 63-7 and 74-23 last year.

Of note: The Pioneers were 6-1 overall and 4-0 in OCC-Capital before last Tuesday.

*OCC-Capital game