ANDERSON — Liberty Christian's boys basketball program is still basking in the glow of a historic run in the IHSAA state tournament. On Tuesday night, players, coaches and fans were already looking forward to what could be in store next season.
"We're close, and we're going to get there," assistant coach Mike Carey said.
One by one, players and cheerleaders were called to receive special acknowledgement in front of about 200 parents and fans at a pep rally at the school's gym. The team has just completed its most successful IHSAA run, running up a 20-7 record, winning its third straight sectional championship, bringing home its first regional title and falling just short of a state finals berth. The team lost to Marquette Catholic 72-61 in the semistate game on Saturday in Lafayette.
For a team that's losing one starter, it was hard not to look toward the future. Fans, coaches, students and former students stood up to congratulate the team in their own way, and most of them mentioned excitement heading into next season. Fan and former Liberty coach Bill Dayton said the team not only brought positive attention to the athletic program, but to Liberty as a school.
"We're all looking forward to next year," Liberty principal Amy Conrad said.
Senior Preston Quinn, one of four seniors exiting the program after experiencing a 5-16 campaign their freshmen year, said he feels very confident about the team he's leaving.
"They're going to get there next year. I just know it," Quinn said. "There's no other team in the state that can stop them. They've got a bright future."
Still, there was plenty of celebration about what the team accomplished this season. Most who came up to speak talked about the dramatic comeback victory to nab the regional crown. Two weeks ago, the Lions turns a 14-point halftime deficit into a 10-point win, beating Lafayette Central Catholic 65-55 in Frankfort. School board president Mike Evans said each of the players were special to him and will forever hold a place in the hearts of local fans.