Morgan Fleming took care of the Liberty High School girls basketball career scoring record during the first quarter on Saturday.
Fleming and her Blue Jays teammates took care of Belton in the second half.
Fleming scored a game-high 24 points and Liberty blitzed the Pirates in a 56-37 victory in a Missouri Class 5 quarterfinal at Silverstein Eye Centers Arena in Independence. Liberty advances to the state tournament after finishing second last year.
“It’s a huge thing for us after the loss at state last year,” Fleming said. “That was our goal — to return. We’ve thought about it every day since losing in the state title game, so it’s a great feeling knowing we get that opportunity again.”
The Blue Jays led Belton 18-15 at halftime, then went on a 13-2 run at the start of the third quarter. Liberty eventually built its lead to 40-20 early in the fourth quarter.
“The biggest turn was when we came out for the second half,” Liberty coach Noah Simpson said. “We went into fullcourt press mode and sped them up a little bit. We got them spread out some on defense and our girls did a good job of making open shots.”
Fleming entered the game needing three points to become Liberty’s career scoring leader. A free throw midway through the first quarter gave her the school record.
“It’s a goal I set a while ago. It’s a special feeling to be able to do it in a big-caliber game like this one,” Fleming said. “I’m just thankful for my teammates and supporters who helped me get (here).”
Sydney Offield added 11 points for Liberty, 26-3.
Courtnie Lewis scored a team-high 20 points for Belton, which ended its season 16-13.