Eagles Display Resolution and Resilience in Annual Red Out Game

Liberty managed to gain a victory from Fort Zumwalt North and continue their overall strong season


Monica Reyes

Sophomore Andrew Badra looks for a pass as he clutches onto the basketball, guarding it from a contending Fort Zumwalt North player.

Gavin Block, Co-Editor-in-Chief of The Ledger

Both the varsity boys basketball and varsity girls basketball teams battled against Fort Zumwalt North’s respective squads on Friday evening, Jan. 6, for the winter season’s annual Red Out/Coaches vs. Cancer night.

A winter pep assembly was held in the main gym during Nest Time the day before the matchup. Events involved in the gathering included a rehearsal of the parting of the Red Sea in the stands; the cheer team, Liberty Belles, and even staff and StuCo members performing dance numbers; and a basketball knockout game between teachers and students. These activities helped raise both the roof and the hype in anticipation of Friday’s game. A total of at least $538 was raised during the week, all of which will be going to the American Cancer Society. By the end of the game, a grand total of $2,058 was raised for the week. 

Varsity boys basketball head coach Chip Sodemann noted the significance of the game not just regarding its competitiveness, but also due to its meaning and overall theme.

“To start off, it’s a conference game, so those are always important because competing for a conference championship is always one of our goals in a season,” Sodemann remarked. “But more importantly, I think it has to do with the bigger picture; it is the Coaches vs. Cancer night, and donating, giving back and understanding that there are people in the world that are struggling and suffering, if we can do something small to help them, I think that’s a great thing.”

Nolan Frey (11) looks to pass the ball to a teammate. (Monica Reyes)

According to Sodemann, Coaches vs. Cancer is a program of the American Cancer Society that was mobilized by former Coach Norm Stewart in 1992, a Hall of Fame coach at the University of Missouri and a cancer survivor. He wanted to use his platform and network of coaches to make his concept a national organization. The initiative recently reached its 30th anniversary.

The boys’ battle against the Panthers, who had a record of 2-9, started around 7 p.m., and the tensions were high right from the get-go. Liberty’s animated and passionate student section proved to surely be a rather large and uplifting contribution to the maintenance of the team’s good morale throughout the heated contest.

The first half saw a generally dominant and assured display from the Eagles. However, the first two quarters finished with an impressive half-court shot buzzer beater by a Fort Zumwalt North player, bringing the score to a tight count of 34-32 in favor of the Panthers.

The third quarter of the engagement is when the Eagles truly began to soar. Through players such as seniors Nate Bobikiewicz and Ashton Long, the birds of prey managed to push themselves six points clear of the cats at the end of the round.

The fourth quarter was likely the tightest segment of the matchup with a multitude of pauses and fouls, but the red-white-and-blues handled their competition effectively as they had done all game with aggressive defense and slick forward play.

Near the very end, to unquestionably slam the door shut, a foul resulted in two consecutively successful free throws from sophomore Andrew Badra. This secured a final victory of 63-57 for the Eagles. As a result, the boys basketball squad has brought their so far engaging season to a record of 9-3.

“It felt really good,” Badra commented on his sealing of the win. “I couldn’t do it without my teammates.”

Ashton Long (12) jumps to make the shot over the Zumwalt North defense. (Monica Reyes)

Badra stated that he hopes the team’s overall confidence will improve as a result of the triumph versus North and thus that they will continue to win games.

An hour and a half before the boys’ game, the girls fought against the Panthers in what was, in short, a trouncing. It was hoped that the Eagles had the potential to take a triumph over a side that was going into the contest with a vulnerable 4-7 record, but what developed heavily demonstrated against this expectation.

Every aspect that Liberty was falling short in seemed to be exactly what Fort Zumwalt North’s crew was excelling at. The lack of clinical finishing, an excess of optimistic and rash passing attempts as well as challenges, and an unstable guarding performance all added up to result in a disheartening 53-23 defeat for the Eagles. They could only produce one 3-pointer in the entire match. Although North’s defensive work and restless attack can be considered to have been top-notch, Liberty were largely responsible for their own disappointment, bringing their profile to 2-10.

While the varsity boys and girls basketball teams have had quite contrasting seasons, both will still be looking to see how they can improve their game and continually move forward from their past shortcomings this season.

Liberty will face the Fort Zumwalt North Panthers once more in a league game on Tuesday, Jan. 31.


Teams 1 2 3 4 F
Fort Zumwalt North 14 20 10 13 57
Liberty 14 18 18 13 63


Teams 1 2 3 4 F
Fort Zumwalt North 13 17 22 1 53
Liberty 4 4 8 7 23