LIBERTY HILL, Texas — Liberty Hill High School has experienced success for decades in boys basketball. But, the Panthers have only reached the final four of the UIL playoffs four times.

The Panthers' fourth state tournament appearance begins Friday in San Antonio at the Alamodome.

"We know we can play, and we play hard for each other," Liberty Hill guard Parker McCurdy said.

That formula has worked well for the Panthers, winners of 33 of their 39 games, including their 4A Region IV championship game versus Navasota last Saturday. 

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"We thought we could make it to the state tournament, and this was our goal all year long," Liberty Hill guard Jareck Naylor said.

The Panthers clinched the program's first state tournament appearance since 1991, an accomplishment which is a tribute to all the Panthers who established the winning tradition at Liberty Hill.

"The kids understand that you're not just playing for yourself," Liberty Hill Head Coach Barry Boren said.

Four decades ago, Coach Boren began his high school basketball coaching career. Boren's seventeenth season as the Panthers head coach will be his first-ever state tournament experience as head coach. 

It's been an emotional experience since that regional championship game last Saturday.

"I'm trying my very best not to appear nervous because I don't want my players to be nervous," Coach Boren said.

I'm sure the nervous energy will be present for Friday's state semifinal game Friday afternoon against Decatur inside of the Alamodome.

They're the team the Panthers lost to in December in a holiday tournament, 57 to 37.

Tipoff of Liberty Hill's 4A semifinal in San Antonio on Friday is 1:30 p.m.


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