Although the City High and Liberty basketball header was an exciting occasion for all in attendance, it wasn’t the most important aspect of the evening.
A “Mental Health Awareness Night” is announced, and the City High and Liberty girls’ basketball teams show their call for change in multiple ways.
City High’s players wore T-shirts reading “Tomorrow Needs You”. Liberty wore “OS14” jerseys in honor of beloved student Owen Skelly, who died by suicide last year.
Before the game, players and coaches from both teams gathered in their half of the field and held together for a moment of silence for those who have been affected or lost their lives due to mental health struggles.
Liberty coach Jaime Brandt said the opportunity to spread that message was of the utmost importance.
“It’s always great when you’re playing for something bigger than basketball,” Brandt said. “Tonight we were able to honor Owen (Skelly) and what he brought to our community and the awareness that came from it. Life is hard and it’s okay not to be okay. So being able to spread that message using our platform, which is high school basketball, it was really special. “.
City High coach Lynsey Barnard said this was an opportunity to show the kids they cared.
“There is a huge stigma surrounding the mental health of athletes,” Barnard said. “We’ve learned to be tough and to respond in a certain way. It’s hard for anyone, especially athletes, to be vulnerable and say they need help. So it’s important that we look at these kids as students first and then as basketball players second. You obviously want to win.” basketball games, but there is no rivalry more important than our children.”
Here are the top points earned from the Friday games:
The Liberty Girls use a brave defense to win
Known for his offensive prowess, the Lightning had to try a different approach in Friday’s defensive duel against the Little Hawks. Liberty achieved a 39-25 victory in the girls’ game.
Brandt said her team appreciates challenging games because they force the entire roster to contribute.
“When we can win games when Jasmine (Barney) has seven points, it says a lot about our team and how deep we are,” Brandt said. “I tell the girls every day in practice that every night can be a different person. As a team, I think we become confident and learn how to win and that’s something our program has never done before.”
Freshman Janissa Mosley led the team with eight points, a season-high. Mosley said her teammates inspired her to go even further.
“I feel offensive, I’ve been able to attack more,” Mosley said. “Most of my energy came from my teammates and their support. My teammates were doing something good and that would push me to do my part in attack and defence.”
City High Girls’ offense disappears in the second quarter
With the second quarter down 9-5, the game was still in the hands of the Little Hawk girls. But they couldn’t drop their shots.
In the second period, City High won 11-4, with two of those points coming from layups by sophomore Augie Palmer and the other points from free throws by sophomore Amy McComas and freshman Tessa Driscoll.
Little Hawks coach Lynsey Barnard said her faith in the team remains unwavering.
“Nothing that happens in the game changes my opinion of what we can do,” said Barnard. “It’s really about what we can do throughout the game. When we can do that, we’re going to steal a game against one of these really talented teams.”
Dashun Fisher puts the onslaught of the Sons of Liberty on his back
Dashun Fisher, one of the leading scorers in the Mississippi Valley Conference, imposed his will against a usually tough high-flying defense. He led all players with 34 points in Liberty’s 67-56 boys’ win.
Fisher said his mentality is to help his team by any means necessary.
“Obviously, when I’m having a 30-plus-point game, it feels great,” Fisher said. “But even when I know I’m not having the best game, I know I can do more than just score. I can facilitate the ball, I can defend, I can rebound, and I’ll do whatever it takes to help my team get a win.”
Lightning coach Ryan Kelly said Fisher’s presence would be a game-changer.
“It makes me look really good,” said Kelly. “He’s a great player and I’m happy to coach him and continue to coach him. He helps us a lot because of his attacking ability and his athleticism. One of the things I’m really happy about him is that he’s starting to trust his teammates. So when teams start to double his squad or start to team up with him, He’s confident his teammates will open up. And that’s something I hope makes us really dangerous on the road.”
The boys’ late payment from City High proves to be too little, too late
With the exception of a poor first-quarter offense (in which they only collected nine points), both teams had a good night scoring by typical standards.
What helped Liberty stay on top for most of the night was the fact that the Lightning kept attacking for the remaining three quarters. Meanwhile, the Little Hawks had multiple offensive possessions throughout the game as they found themselves on the slump.
Coach Brennan Sweizer said the Little Hawks have been a resilient team this season, but he can’t always count on late rallies to save them.
“One thing about my guys is that we’re going to compete,” Swizer said. “It’s something I know they’ll do constantly, but it almost becomes a prop for us because we don’t take the time to execute offensively or make good passing decisions, which leads to ups and downs.”