ANDERSON, Ind. —
Liberty Christian counters with a nine-game winning streak of its own and a 10-point regional championship victory over one of the most respected 1A programs in the state.
On paper, there is very little to separate the semistate combatants. The Lions average 70.8 points per game, and the Blazers score 68.8. Marquette Catholic has a 76.42 score in Jeff Sagarin's state-wide computer ratings, good for third overall in Class 1A. Liberty Christian ranks fourth at 75.34.
Punctuating the razor-thin discrepancy, state basketball curator John Harrell predicts a 61-60 for the Blazers on his highly respected website.
The difference figures to come down to execution on game day.
"I feel like that every game," Chappell said. "The team that's most disciplined and the team that executes best will probably be the more successful of the two teams. At this point in the season, no team is able to come up with a new magical defense or a new magic play. The team that gets hot wins."
The Lions got very hot in the second half of last week's regional final, outscoring seventh-ranked Lafayette Central Catholic 50-26 over the final 16 minutes of a 65-55 victory.
But Liberty Christian faced double-digit deficits in both the sectional and regional championship games. It can ill afford another slow start against the Blazers.
The Lions can be as unpredictable as any team, with six different players — Chris Nunn, Franklin Nunn, Quincey Hyatt, Vincent Phillips, Quinn and Gibbs — reaching double-figure scoring in at least one of last week's two regional games. But it will take a measure of consistency to advance to the next round.
"We're gonna have to rebound," Chappell said. "We've gotta get back in transition, we've gotta defend and we've gotta hit some shots. If we can do that, the sky's the limit."