LIBERTY, Ohio (WKBN) – The Leopards’ top two scorers – Demi Watson (16.4 ppg) and Aaliyah Foster (15.8) – both return for the upcoming season.

“Demi and Aaliyah are expected to provide leadership to lead us to a successful season,” said coach Deidre Watson.

Returning starter Kylee Thomas is also back in the fold.

“Their leadership and maturity that we expect from that trio, even with Cianna Smith who’s sidelined for the year, will give us valuable insight to other players with their high basketball IQs,” Watson said.

Senior Demi Watson has averaged 13-points per game in each of her first three seasons. Last winter, #11 scored 10 points or more in 20 games, which included a 33-point performance on December 20 against Garfield in a four-point victory (67-63).

Foster shot 64% from the floor as a sophomore. She also scored 20 points or more in nine contests.

Smith was set to return this season before suffering an injury this summer that will negate her from playing this year. Smith had 19 double-digit games, but none were bigger than her effort against Brookfield in the District Championship. She scored 20 and hauled down 20 rebounds in Liberty’s 52-39 win over the Warriors.

Look for players such as Mia Parker, Madison Thompson and Armani Franklin to provide contributions this year as well.

Last year, Liberty began by winning its first 13 outings. The Leopards won 15 of their 23 games by holding their opponents to 40 points or less.

“Development of a strong bench is the key to success this year,” said Watson. “With Cianna out as our starting point guard, refining that position and new roles will be key areas of growth.”

Liberty begins play with a matchup against Fitch on Saturday, November 26.

Liberty Leopards
Fast Facts
Head coach: Deidre Watson
2021-22 Record: 23-2 (13-1), MVAC Grey Tier
2021-22 Post-Season Finish
: Won Struthers District; Lost in Regional Semifinal to Waynedale (58-24)

2021-22 Team Stats
Scoring Offense: 60.4
Scoring Defense: 38.8

2021-22 Individual Leaders
Scoring: Demi Watson – 16.4
Rebounding: Aaliyah Foster – 7.1
Assists: Cianna Smith – 4.2
Steals: Aaliyah Foster – 3.3
Free Throw Percentage: Demi Watson – 76.0%
Three-Point Percentage: Cianna Smith – 34.3%

2022-23 Schedule
Nov. 25 – Fitch
Nov. 28 – at East
Dec. 2 – Hudson
Dec. 5 – at Canfield
Dec. 8 – at Crestview
Dec. 12 – at Brookfield
Dec. 15 – Newton Falls
Dec. 19 – Garfield
Dec. 21 – at Cleveland East Tech
Dec. 28 – Ursuline
Jan. 2 – at LaBrae
Jan. 5 – Campbell Memorial
Jan. 9 – Champion
Jan. 12 – Crestview
Jan. 16 – Struthers
Jan. 19 – Brookfield
Jan. 23 – at Newton Falls
Jan. 26 – at Garfield
Jan. 30 – LaBrae
Feb. 2 – at Campbell Memorial
Feb. 6 – at Champion
Feb. 9 – Boardman