With heavy hearts, Liberty Christian boys fight for second place


It would have been easy to quit and take more time to mourn days after a teammate’s death. 

Instead, the Liberty Christian boys basketball team showed the heart and determination of a champion. 

While the actual title eluded the Eagles in the championship game of the Metro Athletic Conference  Tournament — a 69-19 setback on Saturday — the players persevered all week.

They did so in memory of 15-year-old Levi Coovert, a freshman guard/forward, who passed away Feb. 2. 

For longtime Coach Butch Clark, he was in awe of his squad’s performance during last week’s tournament. 

“Even though we didn’t get the Hollywood ending we hoped for, that should not diminish what these boys accomplished (last) week,” said Clark in a Facebook post. “We lost a teammate we all loved just a week ago. No one would have thought any less of them had they said they couldn’t play last Monday. In fact many teams could not have gone out to play, but this group wanted to play. Not for themselves, but in memory of their teammate.”

Three days after Coovert’s death, Liberty Christian suited up for the tournament opener, a 65-56 victory over Providence Classical Christian Academy. Sophomore Willy Mueller recorded a double-double with 20 points and 17 rebounds. Sophomore Tommy Meyer and senior Jack Duvel also reached double digits with 18 points apiece. 

In last Thursday’s semifinal contest, Duvel scored a team-high 17 points in a 58-42 triumph over Mississippi Valley Christian. Phoenix Obermann and Mueller each contributed 13 points. Meyer and Brody Kuehn followed with eight and seven points, respectively. 

In Saturday’s title game, the Eagles were held to single digits in every quarter and fell behind quickly 22-3 in the opening quarter. They made just seven of 35 shots from the field, including a 2-16 showing from long range. 

At the end of the week, Clark noted, the outcome did not matter.

“I was proud of my team Monday when they were able to simply get on the bus after everything they went through...” he said. “I was amazed they played the way they played Monday and then again Thursday. Their commitment to play for Levi and each other all week is the real story to me.”

liberty christian, eagles, basketball, metro athletic conference, tournament