The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update

Sports

March 1, 2013

Lions return to Class A sectional final

Liberty Christian withstands late rally in 54-49 win

PARKER CITY, Ind. — In a taut defensive game, Liberty Christian took a six-point first-quarter lead over host Monroe Central in the first semifinal game of Class A, Sectional 55 and made it hold up, winning 54-49.

The Lions (18-5) had to work hard to hold the lead throughout the game, especially in the fourth quarter, when they took their largest lead at 48-40 then saw the Bears (12-9) claw back to make it 50-49.

Liberty Christian coach Jason Chappell praised his team’s composure.

“In that fourth quarter, they could’ve panicked, but they didn’t,” he said. “It helps that they were in that same situation last year.”

The Lions defeated Monroe Central 94-90 in overtime last season to win the first sectional championship in school history.

Despite a second straight loss, Bears coach Luke Zartman was pleased with his team’s effort, too.

“They didn’t give up tonight,” he said. “They put themselves in a position to have a chance to win the ballgame. We had the ball down one and got a layup look at the basket.”

That look came with just over a minute to go, and Liberty Christian followed by making two free throws — something it had struggled with all night, shooting just 12-for-21 from the line.

Monroe Central had a 3-pointer that would have tied the game go off the back of the rim and high in the air, and Liberty Christian got a break when the carom hit a wire supporting the basket, giving the Lions the ball with 13.5 seconds left and a 52-49 lead.

When the Bears fouled Liberty’s Thatcher Rouse immediately after the inbound pass, he hit two free throws with 12 seconds left to seal the win.

“That was a very good team that we beat,” said Chappell. “We did that with our defense. Our defense was on it. We had some guys really step up — DeShon Gibbs, Quincy Hyatt. Quincy was a presence. Not everyone had their best game, but as a team we brought it.”

“What hurt us tonight was the physicality of the game, both on the inside and from their guards,” said Zartman. “Their ability to get after you defensively ... they get their hands on you in such a way that it makes it very difficult to drive with the basketball, and it made it very hard for our guys getting open off the screens. They did a tremendous job of taking away a lot of aspects of our offense.”

Jacob Combs led all scorers with 19 points for Monroe Central. Troy Starr and Chase Bly each had 12 points and five rebounds for the Bears.

Chris Nunn had a very quiet 17 points to lead the Lions, who also got 14 from Preston Quinn. Quinn led all rebounders with nine.

“Now we’ve got to turn back around and do it again tomorrow,” said Chappell.

The Lions will take on Southern Wells at 7:30 p.m. tonight in the sectional title game.

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