The Patriots tied with Bellevue for the KingCo 3A/2A title and are headed up north as they try to break through to state.
A new banner will adorn Liberty’s gym walls next season.
The boys basketball team finished the regular season as co-KingCo 3A/2A champions with Bellevue (the teams split their games). It’s the first hoops title Liberty has won in program history. It’s a feat accomplished as a Class 2A school against mostly 3A competition.
The finish is an extra boost for the Patriots as they head into the District 1/2 tournament at Mount Vernon this week. As one of the top four seeds, Liberty (16-4) received a bye and begins play Saturday.
“The last couple of years we’ve had some pretty good success and we’ve kind of climbed out of the basement,” Liberty coach Omar Parker said. “But this year was pretty exceptional.”
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Parker, who won a state championship at Mercer Island in 1985, is in his sixth season at Liberty. He credits a strong youth basketball program that predates him as helping to hone his team.
There are seven seniors on Liberty’s roster, each stepping into the spotlight throughout the season to help the Patriots pull out wins. Junior wing Jake Elfstrom is the leading scorer, averaging 21.9 points per game as of Thursday. Senior post Stephen Hei leads the Patriots in rebounding (6.9 per game) and is also a solid scorer (15.4 per game).
Setting everyone up is senior point guard Nick Chung. He’s averaging a KingCo 3A/2A-best 7.8 assists per game with just 1.8 turnovers per game.
“Nick is the best point guard in the conference,” Parker said. “We’ve got a really good group of guys that have molded into roles and needs for our team.”
Liberty’s matchup Saturday caps the weeklong start to the postseason. The Metro League plays its boys and girls semifinals (Wednesday) and finals (Friday) at Seattle Pacific University. The KingCo 4A boys and girls tournaments start Friday with play-in games while the KingCo 3A boys and girls tournament championships are Wednesday at Newport.
“The top six in Metro, anybody could win on any given night,” Garfield girls basketball coach Lee Adams said. “We need to concentrate on us and what we need to do. We’ll be OK if we can be consistent with that.”
Teams south of Seattle are in district play. The Class 4A West Central/Southwest bi-district boys tournament tips Wednesday while the girls tourney starts Thursday both at various sites.
The Renton girls won the South Puget Sound League 2A title and will host its West Central District game Friday. The boys Class 2A West Central District tournament is at various sites beginning Saturday.
Teams up north are also in district play along with Liberty. The Class 3A District 1 girls tournament starts Thursday and the boys start Saturday. The Class 4A District 1 girls and boys basketball tournaments begin Saturday at Marysville-Pilchuck.
“We have a very strong, experienced team,” Parker said in gauging his team’s postseason possibilities. “They’re very unselfish and have proven their toughness, so I’m optimistic we’ll go far.”
Annie Wright freshman guard Julianna Walker is the second-highest scorer in the state, averaging 34.6 points per game for the Gators.
Walker has scored 50 points or more twice this season and in six games she had a double-double in points and steals. Annie Wright (13-4, 11-3), a Class 1A school in Tacoma, is third in Emerald City League standings.