By Heather Bremer
For The Herald Bulletin
ANDERSON, Ind. —
Liberty Christian and Alexandria split a boys/girls doubleheader at the Lions’ Den in Round 1 of the Madison County Basketball Tournaments Saturday night.
The Liberty boys held on to defeat the Tigers 69-63 in a rough-and-tumble battle, while the Alexandria girls doubled up the Lady Lions 56-23.
Both winning teams will face Anderson in Round 2.
Chris Nunn scored 25 points on 10-of-13 shooting and hit three 3-pointers to power Liberty’s victory. The sophomore caught fire just before halftime, lifting the Lions to a 29-26 advantage with eight second-quarter points. Fourteen second-half points kept the Tigers at bay.
Liberty coach Jason Chappell said Nunn continues to improve each game.
“He kinda had to put us on his shoulders tonight,” Chappell said. “He’s starting to look to attack the bucket a little bit more and if his 3-ball’s falling, it can be scary for the other team.”
Alexandria pushed the Lions in the fourth, cutting a nine-point Liberty lead to just four with under a minute to go. A bucket from Jonah Jerrils narrowed the margin to three with 21.9 left. But the Lions hit four free throws down the stretch to seal the six-point win.
Throughout the Tigers’ onslaught, Liberty refused to panic.
“Every year (the Tigers) beat us in the county tournament. So it’s just trying to get over that hump,” Chappell said. “We took some ill-warranted shots that slowed things down. But we did keep our composure and that helped.”
Ben Bowen added 13 points for Liberty. Quinn contributed 10 and led the Lions with 7 rebounds.
Senior Landon Breese paced Alex with 18 and was a perfect 10-of-10 from the line.
Liberty turns its focus to Anderson. Chappell isn’t worried about who the Lions play, just getting better.
“We didn’t play our game tonight and that kinda disappoints me,” Chappell said. “For us to be able to compete with whoever we play we’re going to have to be a lot more disciplined.”
The Alexandria girls were too much for Liberty.
Senior Shanna Kelly and junior Courtney Skinner each scored 13 points to lead the Lady Tigers’ romp over Liberty.
It wasn’t a pretty first quarter for either team. Alexandria went 4-of-12 from the field and Liberty was 2-of-9, giving the Tigers an 8-4 margin after one period. Things picked up for Alex in the second as Kelly scored eight to help the Tigers to a 23-11 halftime lead.
Alexandria carried that momentum into the third. The Lady Tigers went on a 14-0 run in the first two minutes of the period, highlighted by a perfect behind-the-back, falling-out-of-bounds pass from Carlee Wihebrink to Peyton Quinn for an easy bucket. By the end of the third, the game had gotten away from the Lions.
Coach Tina Bolte knew Alexandria might show some rust, having missed its last scheduled game because of the snow storm. But she thought the Tigers got better as the game progressed.
“I didn’t really make any adjustments (at halftime). I restated what I said in the first half and said this is what’s gonna work. This is what works for us,” Bolte said. “They just did a better job of executing what we really wanted to do the first half.”
Senior Briana Ayers led the Lions with seven points and four rebounds. As a team, Liberty was 9-of-37 from the field. The Lions were hampered by Alexandria’s pesky pressure and often couldn’t get the ball past half-court.
“Right before Christmas break, it was a big point of emphasis,” Bolte said. “It was good to have a game where it was very effective again for us and just get them energized on defense.”
Alexandria usually doesn’t play Anderson unless they meet in the county tourney. Bolte intends to focus on what her team does well.
“My team is a group where if they’re playing together and they’re playing hard that things fall together for us,” Bolte said. “So really it’s going to be about us more than who we’re playing.”