ANDERSON — A fever associated with a persistent case of strep throat kept Liberty Christian boys basketball coach Jason Chappell from making the trip to Lafayette Jeff with his team Tuesday.
But while the 10th-ranked Lions practiced at the semistate site under the direction of assistant coaches Mike Carey and Ryan Jackson, their leader continued to study Marquette Catholic — the Michigan City-based school that will provide the opposition Saturday at 1 p.m.
"They're definitely a formidable opponent," Chappell said.
Ranked No. 3 in Class 1A, the Blazers (18-6) are led by 6-foot-8 junior Ryan Fazekas. An obvious threat in the paint, Fazekas actually is listed as a small forward and does his share of damage from the perimeter.
He leads the team with 13.3 points and 7.8 rebounds per game and already has given a verbal commitment to Providence. Fazekas' size and skill make him a match-up nightmare for most any high school opponent.
"You can't teach (height), but you can defend," Chappell said. "And we have some pretty good defenders."
Senior guard Nathan Flores is second on Marquette Catholic with 12 points per game, and senior Richie Miller averages 11.5 points and a team-high 3.6 assists per outing. Junior Braxton Miller averages 8.6 points and 3.2 assists per game and provides a 3-point threat.
The Blazers have won 10 straight games, dominating the boards in a 79-49 victory against North White in last weekend's regional championship game. Three of Marquette Catholic's six losses came against schools from Illinois, and it hasn't lost to a Class 1A team all year.
Chappell said such a resume is expected this time of year.
"Once you make it to the final four, anyone's good," he said. "This team has a lot of similarities to us. They like to play the style we like to play."