Liberty boys basketball advances to Show-Me Showdown final four

Liberty junior guard Bennett Stirtz drives to the basket during the Missouri Class 5 boys basketball district championship game Friday, March 5, at Liberty High School.

LIBERTY — Liberty boys basketball clinched a spot in the Show-Me Showdown with dominant performances in the state sectionals and quarterfinals last week.

The Blue Jays beat Staley 66-53 Tuesday, March 9, at home before hitting the road to beat Lee’s Summit 65-50 Friday, March 12, at Lee’s Summit High School. Liberty has won its last 13 games by an average of 17.2 points per game.

Junior guard Bennett Stirtz led his team in scoring during both games as he averaged 22.0 points over that span, as well as 6.0 rebounds. His 27 points against Staley became his new season high.

Senior forward Kellen Goodwin helped put the Jays over the Falcons team that beat them earlier in the year during the final of the C.W. Stessman Tournament. Goodwin scored 14 points and ended up just shy of a double-double with nine rebounds.

Senior guard Javion Byers dropped in 8 points while junior guard Luke Stubbs contributed 7 points. Junior forward Palmer Holst and senior guard Javin Shaw added 5 points a piece.

Stirtz scored 17 points against Lee’s Summit with multiple teammates not far behind as three other Blue Jays scored in double figures. He also led the team in rebounds with eight.

Shaw finished 1 point shy of his season high as he dropped in 16 points thanks to a perfect 6 of 6 from the free-throw line and 2 of 4 from beyond the arc. Byers scored 14 points. Luke Stubbs added 10 points and seven rebounds.

Liberty (25-4) returns to the final four for the first time since 2018 when the Blue Jays finished in fourth place in Class 4. Liberty will face Fort Zumwalt North 4 p.m. Friday, March 19, at Hammons Student Center in Springfield.

If they win that game, the Blue Jays will play in the Missouri Class 5 state championship game 6 p.m. Saturday, March 20.

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

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