The Liberty Eagles (1-1) travel to Francis Howell Central for their first road game of the 2016-17 season. Tonight’s game will be the season opener for Francis Howell Central.
Howell Central is coming off a season that featured a series of streaks to finish 13-14. Central won their first five games and then proceeded to drop their next four. They bounced back with wins over Troy, Bayless and St. Charles in the Washington Tournament before losing to Westminster. Coming off the loss to Westminster, the Spartans proceeded to win three more consecutive games against Timberland, Ft. Zumwalt West and Ft. Zumwalt East.
As the calendar turned to February, the Spartans hit a rough stretch losing 9 of their last 11 contests. However, six of those 9 losses were by 6 points or less and against some of the top teams in the Metro area such as Lafayette, Timberland, Ft. Zumwalt South, Francis Howell.
Returning for the Spartans is Marcus James, a 6-0 Senior who averaged 11.4 points per game, shooting 48.7% from the field. James wasn’t the Spartans top long range threat, however he did shoot 27.8% from behind the arc on the season. The Spartans graduated their other top scorer in the form of AJ Anderson and will be looking for contributions from returnees, Seniors Kaleb Cissell (4.2 ppg) and Nathan Garthe (4.2 ppg). Otherwise, the 2016-17 Spartans are a bit of a mystery as they enter the 2016-17 season with a new crop of talented young players.
As mentioned earlier, tonight’s game will be the home and season opener for the Spartans. The Eagles will actually have to embrace the challenge of playing a team in their home opener twice in the early part of the season. On December 13th the Eagles visit Ft. Zumwalt South as part of their home opener to the 2016-17 season. Liberty High School Boys Basketball Coach, Chip Sodemann commented on the challenge of playing in a high energy atmosphere, “We have to prepare with a focus on matching the toughness and intensity that usually accompanies opening games. We know FHC and FZS will have nice crowds and be ready to play. We cannot worry about things we cannot control and just need to be focused on what our job is at that moment.”
When asked for his general impressions of his team over the first two games, Sodemann responded, “I have seen a team that has potential to be a good team. We lack the consistency for a full 32 minutes on both the offensive and defensive end. When focused on our job and being tough we can compete at a high level. If we come to practice with an attitude of getting better each day, we will be a better team in March and that is our goal.”
Tonight’s non-conference matchup is at 7pm at Francis Howell Central High School.