NORTH LIBERTY — Poor Bo Gryp listened to his own student section a little too closely.
Believing a faux clock countdown chant directed toward the opponent at the end of the third quarter was the real thing, the freshman guard grabbed a rebound and hoisted a half-court shot with about four seconds left. The ball expectedly came up well short of the hoop and harmlessly fell out of bounds with time still remaining.
As it turned out, that was one of the few times he and his Iowa City Liberty teammates showed their youth Monday night. The Lightning won for the second time in their boys’ basketball history, the first time at home, 61-49, over Washington (Iowa).
“We’re just trying to get the guys better each day, each game,” said Coach Stu Ordman.
No one knew what to expect from this new school, but things have been more than OK. Liberty (2-3) beat Bellevue in its inaugural game, had a close loss to Waterloo West, a blowout loss to Mount Pleasant, then an overtime loss this past weekend to Center Point-Urbana.
The starting lineup has two freshmen and three sophomores, the roster just two seniors and four juniors, none of whom have any prior varsity experience. All but guard Gerald Seals came from Iowa City West.
Yet these guys look like a very capable team with a bright future. You might be kind of surprised by a pair of victories already, but they are not.
“I was thinking we were going to win more games than we were going to lose,” said 6-foot-5 sophomore forward Andre Brandon. “I just know the players, I know that they like to win and fight, battle hard. I really think we can do that.”
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Brandon is a springy kid who had a pair of dunks in a 13-point, 15-rebound night. Junior guard Iziah Poulsen came off the bench and led Liberty with 17 points.
The Lightning led the whole way, extending a 32-22 halftime lead to as many as 18 points. Washington is 0-3.
“What I wanted to see was a culture where these guys bring spirit into practice. Where they generate it, and it’s not brought by the coach,” said Ordman, who took this job after successful stints at Cedar Rapids Jefferson and Iowa City Regina. “Where they also start coaching each other. That is one thing I have really tried to get them to do. Take responsibility for themselves and the other guys on the team.
“That is tough when they’re young, but you’ve got them when they’re young, so it’s a good time to start making that a habit.”
Most of Liberty’s games are on non-traditional game nights of Monday and Saturday. The schedule includes teams from all four classes, including future Mississippi Valley Conference mates Waterloo West, Iowa City High and Dubuque Wahlert.
“I just think we have a lot of unknowns,” Ordman said. “I feel like we could be pretty darned good eventually. It’s just when. I’m impatient for them to do it sooner.”
AT NORTH LIBERTY
WASHINGTON, IOWA (49): Cale Hobscheidt 2-9 0-0 4, Jack Redlinger 2-8 2-4 7, Jacob Van Osdol 3-5 0-0 9, Luke Turner 3-11 2-2 8, Dalton Myers 4-7 3-6 11, Kolten Hinrichsen 0-0 0-0 0, Cade Henningan 3-8 0-0 6, Matthew Roder 0-2 0-0 0, Blake Hartzler 1-4 2-2 4, Brock Sobaski 0-0 0-2 0, Trevor Quigley 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 18-54 9-16 49.
IOWA CITY LIBERTY (61): Ethan O’Donnell 3-7 3-3 9, Andre Brandon 4-14 5-6 13, Sam Funke 3-7 4-7 10, Grayson Tyler 1-7 1-2 3, Bo Gryp 1-7 1-2 3, Iziah Poulsen 7-11 1-3 17, Moses Bolar 1-4 0-0 2, Ronnie Williams 1-1 0-0 2, Ben Houselog 0-1 0-0 0, Gerald Seals 0-1 0-0 0, Mykale Rush 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 22-56 14-22 61.
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Halftime — Liberty 32, Washington 22. 3-point goals — Washington 4-17 (Hobscheit 0-4, Redlinger 1-3, Van Osdol 3-4, Turner 0-2, Hennigan 0-3, Roder 0-1), Liberty 3-13 (Brandon 0-1, Tyler 1-1, Gryp 0-4, Poulsen 2-5, Houselog 0-1, Seals 0-1). Rebounds — Washington 36 (Turner 8), Liberty 43 (Brandon 15). Total fouls — Washington 18, Liberty 17. Fouled out — Redlinger. Turnovers — Washington 14, Liberty 14.
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