ANDERSON — Here's a thought that could send shivers through the ranks of Class 1A boys basketball programs across the state: Liberty Christian might just be getting started.
The Lions completed the best postseason run in school history Saturday with a 72-61 loss against Marquette Catholic in the semistate at Lafayette Jeff. It was the program's first appearance in the state's Final Four, and it came on the heels of a third straight sectional title and a second consecutive 20-win season.
Add in the fact Liberty Christian returns four starters — and five of its top eight scorers overall — next season, and there's a rock-solid foundation upon which to build.
"This puts us on the map, basically," Lions alumnus Austin Castor said just outside the locker room following the semistate defeat. "People will know Liberty's coming for them next year, no question."
Castor was a part of sectional championship teams in 2012 and 2013 that came on the heels of four straight losing seasons. He's now competing for the track team at Anderson University, but like many in Liberty Christian's extended family his heart remains with the Red and Vegas Gold.
Preston Quinn will know the feeling soon. He played his last game for the Lions against Marquette Catholic and was a part of all three sectional championship teams. Even through the heartache of fresh defeat, he looked at the returning talent with a healthy dose of optimism.
"They definitely have a shot at getting this far again and winning it next year," Quinn said. "They definitely have a bright future."
That future could include a position change for junior point guard Chris Nunn.
The team's second-leading scorer and leader in steals and assists could move to the shooting guard role next year, freeing him to showcase new aspects of the ability that has multiple Division I college programs interested in his services.