Eagles boys hoops split 1st 2 games heading into hosting tourney

Liberty North senior guard TJ Minear watches his 3-point shot swish through the net during a basketball game against Northeast (Kansas City) Tuesday, Dec. 8 at Liberty North High School.

LIBERTY — Liberty North boys basketball fell short in its season opener 41-37 against St. Joe Central, but the Eagles got back to .500 with a 35-32 road win over Rockhurst on Friday, Dec. 4.

Senior guards Davis Rockers, Luke Baker and Mac Garrison did most of the scoring for the Eagles in the opener as Rockers and Baker each scored 10 points and Garrison added 9 points. Rockers stole the ball twice and had one assist to round out his stat line.

Senior forward Drew Hyams had a team-high six rebounds while also dropping in 4 points. Junior forward Justis Braden, who scored four points and had two assists, tied with Garrison and senior guard Cade McKinnon for second on the glass with four rebounds.

Second-year Eagles head coach Cy Musser said that the balanced look on the stat sheet is a result of the players remaining unselfish.

"They're not trying to do too much, they're going to go to the hot hand each night and they are going to make each other better," Musser said.

The hot hand in the second outing was Hyams, who led the team with 9 points in its win over Rockhurst while pulling down four rebounds and dishing out two assists.

Rockers, Baker and McKinnon each added 6 points. McKinnon led the team with five rebounds while Baker tied with Hyams and Braden for second with four.

Musser said that the defense really set the tone in both games, but the team looked at the film and noticed that the transition offense is what worked when the team was able to score.

"(We were) getting out in transition and trying to find our shooters, attack the paint," Musser said. "That was going to create some opportunities for us."

The new focus paid off in the next game as the Eagles made it a two-game win streak when they opened up their Liberty North Invitational Tournament with a 71-25 victory over Northeast (Kansas City).

It wasn't easy for the Eagles to get rolling to start the season as top returners Rockers and Braden were only able to join a few practices after their football season did not end until the state semifinals.

Rockers agreed that it's taken a little while for the duo to make that transition.

"The first practice we were looking at each other winded because football shape is a lot different than basketball shape," Rockers said. "We're definitely starting to hit that groove."

Liberty North will continue on the winners side of the bracket as they face Park Hill at 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 10 at Liberty North High School.

Sports Writer Mac Moore can be reached at 389-6643 or mac.moore@mycouriertribune.com.

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