PARKER CITY — Hoosier Hysteria was alive and well Saturday night as the host Golden Bears squared off with visiting Liberty Christian for the championship of the Monroe Central sectional.
After a rough start, the Lions showed their mettle in finishing off their quest for a third straight sectional title with a hard-fought 64-52 victory.
“(I’m) so proud of my guys,” Liberty Christian coach Jason Chappell said afterward. “First half we did not play well but our defense kept us in it.”
The quest for a Lion three-peat got off to a rough start as Monroe Central guard Jacob Combs hit 4-of-5 from 3-point range in the first half to stake the Bears to a 25-14 lead midway through the second quarter. Combs nailed 3s from 25-30 feet from the basket with ease. But the Lions did not panic. Instead, they stuck to their game plan of moving the ball on offense and playing solid defense. The result was a 9-2 run to end the half and trail 27-23 at halftime.
“They (Monroe Central) were 7-for-13 in the first half,” Chappell said, referring to the Bears shooting from beyond the arc. “We knew we needed to hold tight, we got it back to within four at halftime, we stuck to the game plan.”
After a rough first half, Preston Quinn and Franklin Nunn took control of the game in the third. Behind seven points from Quinn and nine from Nunn, the Lions went from a 27-23 deficit to a 43-40 lead after three quarters.
“Our coaches told us to stay focused, we knew they were going to hit some shots,” Nunn said as he held the sectional 55 trophy.
Nunn made a key play in the third as the Lions trailed 34-30. Cody Woolf appeared to be on his way to a breakaway lay up and a six-point Bear lead when Nunn swooped in from behind and swatted the ball away. Quinn hit two free throws after being fouled on the ensuing possession and instead of trailing by six, the Lions were within two. After a miss by Bracken Barga, Nunn converted a three-point play to give Liberty a 35-34 lead, its first advantage since a 6-5 lead in the first quarter. Liberty would trail two more times by just one point before Nunn scored the final four points of the third for a three-point Lions lead.