Boys Basketball Notebook: Defense The Focus in Year One at Liberty High


Photo by Jeff Yoder

Ryan Murken

Your Prep Sports

Veteran coach Stu Ordman has a vision for Liberty High boys basketball.

There are benchmarks and objectives Ordman has mapped out for his program that is in its first season of varsity competition.

Rather than getting wrapped up in wins and losses Ordman is focused on establishing a mindset, one that begins on the defensive end.

“What we need to develop is that the players in our program take defense as a personal and team-wide sense of pride and that they always play hard defense and play it unselfishly,” Ordman said. “We aren’t there yet but it’s a journey and I like to think we are making progress.”

Liberty High has had early success in its debut season.

The Lightning are 5-7 with a lineup that features three freshmen and two sophomores in the starting lineup.

Andre Brandon, a springy 6-foot-5 sophomore has the makings of a potential star, leading the team in scoring (15.9), rebounding (6.3), assists, steals and blocks.

According to Brandon there is no confusion about the founding the Liberty High program is being built on.

“Defense is the main thing that coach stresses every day,” Brandon said. “Every day he talks to us about defense, defense, defense.”

The Lightning appear to be listening.

Liberty allowed 61.8 points per game in its first nine games this season (going 3-6) but have held opponents to 55 points per game while winning two of its three games in January.

In nine games before break Liberty High didn’t hold a team under 49 points but opened 2018 by holding back-to-back opponents to 45 points or fewer.

Liberty High limited Fairfield to 44 and Clear Creek Amana to 45 in wins before giving up 76 to 3A fourth-ranked Mount Pleasant on Tuesday.  

“I’d like to think we are making progress but like Bobby Knight once said never trust any player about defense because it’s a constant, constant, constant work,” Ordman said. “It’s work but I think we are making progress.”

West Branch’s Cornwell Reaches 1,000 Points

Beau Cornwell hit the 1,000-point mark for his career last week and he only needed two and a half seasons to get there.

The West Branch junior scored his 1,000th career point in a win over Durant last week and is up to 1,043 points in his career.

A career 18 point per game scorer, Cornwell needed just 56 games to crack the 1,000-point mark.

The 6-foot-2 point guard ranks 18th in the state averaging 23.1 points per game this season.

Big Man Brauns Busting Out

Even Brauns was ready for a breakthrough.

Brauns was well on his way to a big sophomore season following a solid December but the Regina sophomore has busted out in the first two weeks following the holiday break.

The 6-foot-9 Brauns is averaging 15 points, 7.5 rebounds and 3.5 blocks per game in four January games while helping Regina to an 8-2 start.

Brauns added a scholarship offer from Drake last month after Northern Iowa offered before the season.

On the year Brauns leads Regina in scoring (14.2), rebounds (6.2) and blocks (2.8). 

Sims West High’s Mr. Efficient

When it comes to offensive efficiency few players can match West High senior Seybian Sims.

Sims is shooting 77 percent from the field for top-ranked West High, ranking third in the state in field goal percentage among players with at least 50 attempts.

The 6-foot-7 senior has converted on 58 of 75 field goal attempts and is shooting 71 percent from the free throw line (29-41) while averaging a career-best 16.1 points per game.

71 percent (29-41) from the free throw line

West High Still Perfect

As the statewide list of undefeated teams continues to shrink West High just keeps on piling up the wins.

West High (9-0) is one of only 13 remaining unbeaten teams in the state and the lone undefeated team left in Class 4A.

The top-ranked Trojans join 3A No. 1 Oskaloosa (11-0) as the only teams outside of 1A or 2A yet to suffer a loss.

Performances of the Week

Regina sophomore Masen Miller had 29 points, making nine 3-pointers and grabbed nine rebounds in a 67-59 win over Bellevue.

West Branch sophomore Tanner Lukavsky had 20 points, nine rebounds and seven steals in a 57-52 win over Durant.

Liberty High sophomore Andre Brandon had 21 points and eight rebounds, seven steals and four assists in a 58-45 win over Clear Creek Amana.

Solon senior Ben Krutzfeldt had 20 points, six rebounds and three steals in a 68-61 loss to Benton Community.

West High senior Seybian Sims had 21 points, seven rebounds, three assists and three steals in a 80-41 win over Dubuque Wahlert.