FRANKFORT — Redemption.
Liberty Christian's boys basketball team harbored the heartbreak of a fourth-quarter meltdown in the regional final for an entire year. On Saturday night at Case Arena, the 10th-ranked Lions erased a 14-point halftime deficit and defeated No. 7 Lafayette Central Catholic 65-55 for the first regional championship in program history.
"We finally got what we worked so hard for all these years," said Liberty Christian senior Preston Quinn, one of four players in double figures with 13 points. "It takes a team effort to win games like this, and we won as a team."
Indeed, the heroes came in waves.
Junior Vincent Phillips hit a 3-pointer to tie the game with 46 seconds left in the third quarter. Junior Chris Nunn's free throw with 7:32 remaining in the fourth quarter gave the Lions a 42-41 lead they never relinquinshed. Senior DeShon Gibbs scored five straight points to give the team some breathing room, and junior Quincey Hyatt helped it all stand up with three crucial steals in the fourth quarter.
"Quincey Hyatt, you could tell he was mad in the (halftime) locker room," Liberty Christian coach Jason Chappell said. "He didn't say a word, and he came out with fists of fury. I was so pleased with that. He took it out on the court."
The Lions (20-6) shot just 5-for-22 in the first half and trailed 29-15 at intermission. But they'd been down this road before. They trailed Monroe Central by 12 points in the first half of the sectional championship game and rallied to win 64-52.
So, rather than panic, they encouraged each other. And built off one another's energy.
Junior Franklin Nunn, who led the team with 14 points, went to the bench with his fourth foul with 1:39 remaining in the third quarter. When he returned with 3:50 to play in the fourth, the Lions had turned a four-point deficit into a five-point lead.