ANDERSON — At some point during Saturday’s first half at Monroe Central, as Liberty Christian was falling into a 12-point hole, senior Ben Bowen relayed a simple message to coach Jason Chappell during a timeout.
“Coach,” Bowen said, “they can’t keep shooting like this.”
And Chappell swelled a bit with something akin to fatherly pride.
“That’s kind of when I felt a little relief,” he said. “I knew it was in their hands.”
He also knew things had changed in his boys basketball program forever.
The Lions’ four seniors — Bowen, Preston Quinn, DeShon Gibbs and Austin Richwine — have seen their fair share of defeat. Quinn, in particular.
He started every varsity game as a freshman in 2010-11, when Liberty Christian finished 5-16 and lost one game in the Madison County tournament 91-21 against Pendleton Heights and a star shooter named Kellen Dunham.
But he’s also started every game the past three seasons, as the Lions have compiled 51 wins and three straight sectional championships. It’s been a wild ride, for which Quinn’s enjoyed a front-row seat.
“It’s been amazing,” he said. “It’s been a great experience. A lot of teams don’t get to see a change like I have. I’ll remember it all of my life.”
Amongst all the high points, that first half at Monroe Central stands out.
The Bears were playing on their home court, and they were hitting some incredible shots. A lesser team might have wilted under the pressure, especially when a late second-quarter run failed to produce a halftime lead.
But the Lions handled it all with veteran savvy. They took the lead midway through the third quarter and pulled away down the stretch for a 64-52 victory.
“Experience helps a lot, not getting frustrated or getting down on ourselves,” Quinn said matter-of-factly. “I feel like my freshman year, we wouldn’t have come back. But we definitely handled it very, very well.”