By George Bremer
The Herald Bulletin
ANDERSON, Ind. —
Last year, the Liberty Christian boys basketball team made history.
This year, the Lions expect to be even better.
Following a 13-12 season that ended with the school’s first sectional championship in any sport, Liberty Christian returns a deep and experienced team with even higher goals.
“At the end of the season, after we lost to Rockville (in the regional final), the cool thing is our guys believed they could win the whole thing,” coach Jason Chappell said. “When we lost to Rockville, there was devastation. It felt like a funeral. And that tells me they’ve really bought in. We’re not just happy with what we did last year. We want more.”
So far this preseason, Chappell has overseen the best practices of his nine seasons at the Lions’ helm.
He believes his rotation could go 12 players deep, and he has a rapidly rising star in sensational sophomore Chris Nunn.
The ultraquick point guard averaged 18 points, 4.9 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 3.3 steals during a highly successful freshman campaign.
“I think he really could be an incredible ballplayer,” Chappell said. “He definitely has a lot of potential, and he’s a class act as a kid. Plus, he’s got a great set of teammates around him.”
Those teammates include junior Preston Quinn, who averaged 13.9 points and a team-high 7.6 rebounds last year, and fellow key returnees Thatcher Rouse, Quincey Hyatt, and Austin Castor.
Top newcomers include Terrence Campbell, a transfer from Anderson, and freshman Franklin Nunn — whose father, Jerome, was a star at Highland.
“As far as picking starters and whatnot, it’s going to be a really difficult task,” Chappell said.
The Lions did suffer one unexpected loss in Grant Bennett, a junior sharpshooter who averaged 15.2 points and shot 38.1 percent from 3-point range last season but is now enrolled at Anderson.
Liberty Christian will use several players in an attempt to replace Bennett’s production, but Quinn likely will play a major role.
He could be the most improved player on the roster.
“Preston has impressed me a lot,” Chappell said. “When he first came to us, all he wanted to do was step outside the arc and shoot 3s. But he’s dedicated himself to changing his game.”
Quinn likely will remain a threat on the perimeter, but he’s added strength and will not be afraid to challenge opponents in the paint.
It’s part of an aggressive way of thinking for the Lions overall.
They will continue their up-tempo style on both offense and defense, and the players are bursting at the seams to get the season started. Liberty Christian has a scrimmage scheduled for 5:30 p.m. today against University, and it will open the regular season Nov. 20 at home against Cowan.
“We’ve been ready to go since the season ended,” Chappell said. “I think we’re just ready to throw the ball up in the air and go play.”