NORTH LIBERTY — It was Senior Night for the Iowa City Liberty boys’ basketball team Tuesday night, and the festivities associated with it lasted approximately 30 seconds.
Moses Bolar was introduced and thanked for his time, dedication and efforts toward building a proper culture within the program. He walked to midcourt, got a hug from head coach Stu Ordman, and that was it.
Senior Night was over. It goes quick when you don’t have many 12th-graders in your brand new high school and only one on the team.
“We have a good group of young men,” Ordman said, after the Lightning completed their inaugural regular season with a disappointing 38-36 loss to DeWitt Central. “Right now, they are struggling with consistency against varsity opponents. We played real well for a quarter and a half tonight, and then not so well. They have come a long way, but we have to learn how to finish.”
Liberty had an 11-point halftime lead, only to squander it in the second half. DeWitt Central (6-15) got the winning points when guard Cameron Steffens drove the right side of the lane and finished a runner off the glass with 11 seconds left.
After a timeout with 8.3 to go, Lightning guard Grayson Tyler took the inbounds pass, power dribbled his way down floor and to the lane, kicking out to the corner to a wide-open Dawson Zimmerman. His shot was short off the rim as the buzzer sounded.
“It was mostly me getting into the lane and trying to create for a 3-point shooter,” Tyler said. “I found Dawson in the corner. I wish it fell.”
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Liberty concluded the regular season with an 8-13 record, not too shabby considering Tuesday night’s starting lineup consisted of a junior, two sophomores and two freshmen. Everyone who came in off the bench was either a freshmen or sophomore, too.
The Lightning beat five Class 3A teams, two 2As and a 1A. They play Fort Madison in a Class 3A substate opener Monday night.
“I don’t think we really knew what to expect going in because it was our first year,” said point guard Tyler, whose three-point play with 51.8 seconds left tied the game at 36. “Getting eight wins, I don’t know, I think we could have done better. But going into the playoffs, everybody is 0-0.”
Sophomore center Andre Brandon led Liberty with 10 points, a high-flyer with a bright future. This program would appear to have a bright future.
B.J. Frick’s 10 points led Central, which won despite going 2 for 20 from the floor and scoring only 10 points in the first half.
“Some people didn’t think we’d win a game,” Ordman said. “To me, I go in trying to coach them to win every game. But I think it’s more important how much they have improved ... At times, we have had real good improvement. They have learned what it takes to compete on a varsity schedule. I think they’re learning how long a varsity season is.”
AT IOWA CITY LIBERTY
DEWITT CENTRAL (38): Drew Kueter 2-6 0-0 4, Brandt Petersen 0-2 0-0 0, Alex McAleer 3-13 0-0 7, Cameron Steffens 1-4 5-7 7, B.J. Frick 3-6 3-5 10, Mason Braddock 3-5 0-0 8, Easton Necker 0-0 0-0 0, Jeff Grau 0-2 0-0 0, Devin Hurdle 1-2 0-2 2, Colby Horst 0-1 0-2 0. Totals 13-41 8-16 38.
IOWA CITY LIBERTY (36): Sam Funke 1-3 1-3 3, Ethan O’Donnell 4-5 0-1 8, Andre Brandon 3-11 4-8 10, Iziah Poulsen 2-7 0-0 4, Grayson Tyler 3-5 1-2 7, Bo Gryp 1-7 0-0 3, Kelby Telander 0-2 0-0 0, Ben Houselog 0-0 0-0 0, Dawson Zimmerman 0-2 0-0 0, Basil Aldoss 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 14-43 6-14 36.
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Halftime — Iowa City Liberty 21, DeWitt Central 10. 3-point goals — DeWitt Central 4-18 (Kueter 0-2, McAleer 1-8, Steffens 0-3, Frick 1-1, Braddock 2-3, Horst 0-1), Iowa City Liberty 2-11 (Poulsen 0-2, Tyler 1-2, Gryp 1-6, Zimmerman 0-1). Rebounds — DeWitt CEntral 42 (Frick 9), Iowa City Liberty 27 (Brandon 8). Total fouls — DeWitt Central 19, Iowa City Liberty 19. Fouled out — None. Turnovers — DeWitt Central 19, Iowa City Liberty 13.
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