Eagles stifle MAC foe, defend title

By: 
Derrick Forsythe
Record Staff Writer

A little switcharoo was all it took for the Liberty Christian boys basketball team to defend its title.

Well, that and the return of the Eagles’ leading scorer.

Josh Dames recorded a double-double on Saturday, helping guide his team to its second straight Metro Athletic Conference Tournament Championship.

The Eagles outlasted Thomas Jefferson 58-50, after changing up their defensive approach to disrupt the opponent’s scouting report.

“We had been running man to man all year long,” said Coach Tanner Meyer. “They had come to scout five of our games, so they expected man to man. We switched to a 2-3 zone, and it’s like they didn’t know how to respond.”

Meyer says he supplied motivation for his team by reminding them how Thomas Jefferson had beaten them earlier in the season during homecoming. While they still allowed points, the Eagles forced their opponent to work much harder this time.

“We were able to help a lot in the 2-3, and their best player was having to work for his points and getting no easy baskets,” said Meyer.

On the contrary, Liberty Christian found it easier to score with Dames back in the fold after sitting out three games with an injury. He returned during the semifinal win over Rivers of Life, delivering 24 points. On Saturday, Dames supplied 20 points and 12 rebounds.

“It definitely makes a big difference for us having him back in there,” said Meyer.

But the biggest factor might be how the rest of the team responds with Dames on the court.

“We did well most of time boxing out and shot free throws pretty well and made all our chip shots,” said Meyer. “They’re starting to run the offense successfully.”

The Eagles trailed 14-13 after one quarter, but a strong second period helped them claim a 30-23 advantage they would never relinquish.

Meyer was pleased with the overall contribution of his players.

“Dakota (Ball) has been rebounding for us and is altering a lot of shots,” said Meyer. “He’s making people have to go around him and take an extra step, which is really big.”

The senior scored 12 points, while sophomore Cole Christian added 13, including three treys.

“Cole shot the ball pretty well for us,” said Meyer.

Christian helped Liberty Christian to a 40-34 lead after three quarters.

As the Eagles prepare to defend their Missouri Christian Schools Athletic Association State Championship this weekend in Joplin, Meyer is excited how the team is coming together.

“David Vaclavik had the best game of his season,” said Meyer. “ He wasn’t timid at all and drove to the basket really well.”

Liberty Christian will have to go through Blue Ridge Christian of Kansas City to return home with the trophy again.

“Whenever we played them before, David and Cole were pretty timid,” said Meyer. “If we execute our offense, trust ourselves and not get afraid, we’ll be fine.”

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