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March 15, 2014

Wow! Lions roar to first regional title


"We weathered the storm, just like we did last week," Nunn said. "We played good defense. In the second half, we played much better. We got our energy back."

Phillips, who finished with 11 points, returned to Liberty Christian this year after two high school seasons at Pendleton Heights. He smiled with pride shortly after cutting down his piece of the net and said he always knew he'd made the right choice.

As for the 3-pointer from the top of the key that tied the game?

"Just another shot," he said. "We've really become a family this year. Coach (Chappell) set the tone right from the start. Work hard, play hard and stay together. That's what we've tried to do."

Gibbs has seen the darker days of this program. He was around for the 5-16 season three years ago, and he appreciates the heights the Lions reached against Lafayette Central Catholic (16-9).

The senior scored nine of his 11 points in the fourth quarter. Six came on two dagger 3-pointers that brought the Lions' large fan base to a full roar.

"Tonight we all played great," Gibbs said. "I didn't think about (the pressure). (Assistant) Coach (Ryan) Jackson has been working with me a lot on my shot. He told me if I was open, shoot it. And that's what I did."

Fate couldn't resist one grand gesture.

When Lafayette Central Catholic called timeout after Gibbs' final 3-pointer, the Lions led 54-46 with 4:56 remaining. That's the same eight-point margin the Knights erased in the fourth quarter a year ago to win the regional crown.

As his players jogged to the sideline, Chappell turned to one of his assistants and said, "Should I remind them about the bracelets?"

Liberty Christian has worn yellow plastic wristbands all season with the 77-68 final score and the March 9, 2013, date etched on them in red ink. The assistant coach shook his head.

Now, finally, that loss is just a distant memory.

"They don't quit," Chappell said of his players. "There's no quit in these guys. They never give up. I'm so proud of these kids."

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