With a strong second half of the season and most major contributors set to return, Liberty Christian boys basketball coach Butch Clark is optimistic about the Eagles’ chances next …
With a strong second half of the season and most major contributors set to return, Liberty Christian boys basketball coach Butch Clark is optimistic about the Eagles’ chances next season.
Liberty Christian (9-21) found their stride late in the season. The Eagles went 7-7 over their last 14 games in Clark’s first season at the helm of the boys program. The turnaround included a four-game winning streak late in the season.
The Eagles lacked experience this season. Senior Zach Dames and junior Jack Duvel were the only returning players who played more than eight games for the Eagles last season.
Dames and Duvel were both key contributors this season. Duvel led the Eagles with over 14 points per game. Dames averaged over 13 points and seven rebounds per game. The Eagles also got major contributions from freshmen Tommy Meyer and Willy Mueller. Meyer averaged nearly 8 points per game in 17 games this season. Mueller averaged over 8 points and 9 rebounds per game.
Clark said the Eagles’ overtime loss to Christian Fellowship was a positive sign early in the season. The Eagles overcame an 11-point fourth quarter deficit to force the game into overtime. Clark also noted the Eagles’ strong performance at the Bourbon tournament.
“I think they started getting confidence as the year progressed,” Clark said. “And they just started believing in themselves as much as anything and playing together as a team. Sometimes, that takes a while for them to gel. They ended on a good note...I like where we’re heading.”
With the loss of key contributors from last year’s squad, the Eagles needed strong leadership in Clark’s first season at the helm. Clark lauded Dames’ leadership and character through the season.
“As a senior, it would have been easy for him to be disappointed,” Clark said. “And I’m sure he was but he never showed it. He worked hard and he led by example. He was what you would hope your seniors would be on and off the court.”
Clark is optimistic about the Eagles can finish in the top third of the Metro Athletic Conference next season. He noted besides Dames, everyone on the roster is expected to return to the team next season. They will also have the chance to participate in a summer league, which they were not able to do last offseason because Clark took over the position in May.
“I think they expect to be a lot better. That’s the main thing,” Clark said. “They believe they can and I think they’ll be in the top-third of the conference. We go from the bottom third to the top third. Some of the teams like Westwood have got a lot of talent coming back. It’ll be a haul for us to win it but I think we can at least compete with them.”
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