By George Bremer
The Herald Bulletin
---- — FRANKFORT — Chris Nunn missed two days of school this week while running a fever.
But it was Seton Catholic that was left with a queasy feeling after the Liberty Christian junior's performance in the Class 1A regional semifinals at Case Arena on Saturday afternoon.
Nunn scored 13 of his 26 points in the first quarter, and the 10th-ranked Lions (19-6) pulled away for an 83-55 victory. They will make their third straight appearance in the regional championship game tonight against either Rossville or No. 7 Lafayette Central Catholic.
"These were two teams who like to run," Liberty Christian coach Jason Chappell said. "They play a little more zone, but we've got similar styles. It was a fun game to be part of."
Nunn — who also had eight rebounds, five assists and four steals — led three Lions in double figures. Franklin Nunn had 13 points and eight rebounds, and Quincey Hyatt finished with 12 points.
Liberty Christian also got 20 points from its bench, a unit that scored 16 of the team's 18 points in the second quarter. Ben Bowen led the charge with eight points, and Isaiah Tufts added 6.
"We don't look at them so much as bench players," Chappell said. "We have a rotation, and that's our rotation. Our guys understand that. It's not about who starts, it's about who finishes."
The Lions started and finished the game well against the Cardinals.
Spurred by Chris Nunn's hot start, Liberty Christian opened a double-digit lead in the first quarter and Seton Catholic (15-8) never got closer than seven the rest of the way. The Lions ended the game with 11 unanswered points after the Cardinals used a brief 5-0 run to pull within 72-55.
Seton Catholic's most effective stretch came late in the second quarter when it whittled a 13-point deficit down to a 40-33 disadvantage at the half.
"In the first half, toward the end of the half, we gave them a little confidence," Chappell said. "They shot the ball really well in the first half, and we were struggling to defend their drives."
The Lions ratcheted up the defensive pressure in the second half, limiting Seton Catholic to 33.3 percent shooting in the third quarter and 22.2 percent in the fourth.
Liberty Christian took a relatively modest 57-46 lead into the final period.
The Cardinals cut the deficit to 10 points early in the quarter, but a traditional three-point play by junior Vincent Phillips after an offensive rebound gave the Lions some breathing room. And the game wasn't in doubt the rest of the way.
Sophomore Cliff Dickman led Seton Catholic with 20 points in the school's first-ever regional contest. Desmond Bane added 16 points and nine rebounds for the Cardinals, who lost the battle of the boards 43-26 overall.
Liberty Christian never has lost in three appearances in the regional semifinals, but Chappell said every year feels different.
"It's fun," he said. "It's a fun experience for the kids. After we beat Lafayette Central Catholic the first year, our kids were on Cloud 9. The next year, we were more business-like, and this year it's even more so. The guys know what they've come to do."
The Lions have met Lafayette Central Catholic in each of the past two postseasons, with each team winning once. But Chappell said the team has no preference in who it plays for the title.
"We don't play to the other team," he said. "We play our way. We may not know who we're playing til we get here tonight. We're going to watch one quarter or so (of the second semifinal) and then get out of here."