The Herald Bulletin

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March 19, 2014

Rick Teverbaugh: Lions' trip to prominence earned

To some it might seem like Liberty Christian's transformation into a consistent 1A boys basketball power has happened suddenly.

Some might point out that just three years ago the Lions lost by 50 points to a very, very good Pendleton Heights team. But even at that point, the pieces were coming together.

Liberty Christian played in its first IHSAA tournament in the 2005-06 season. During that season the Lions won just four games, beating the likes of Indiana Deaf School, Kokomo Christian, Morton Memorial and Convenant Christian. Their first sectional game was against Tri-Central, and it was a 74-43 loss.

From that time until two years ago, Liberty had just one winning season. Even two years ago, the team finished the regular season at 10-11. But those numbers don't tell the true story.

Liberty was certainly the exception to former NFL coach Bill Parcells' statement, "You are who your record says you are." Not this time Bill.

The Lions that year played about half of their schedule against teams who were from larger schools. Even the losses against those larger schools were more competitive. In back-to-back road losses in early January, the Lions lost by six against Lapel in overtime and by two against Alexandria.

Very few teams could look at Liberty Christian on the schedule and look forward to an easy victory.

By the time the tournament rolled around, the Lions were ready to pounce. They got two sectional wins for the first tournament title in school history. Going to the regional against traditional small school powerhouse Lafayette Central Catholic, few thought they could win. I was in that group who doubted they could extend the tournament trail any further.

I was wrong.

The Lions won 75-67, but lost later that day in the regional title game to Rockville. Though the players were disappointed in the loss, it was more due to the way they played. They knew it was not the best they could play.

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