Liberty boys’ basketball coach Ivan Chambers recalls being “cautiously optimistic” when he got the Lancers together to start the 2017-18 season.
There was senior Moz Doria, one of the best two-way players in the area, and Kyle Bohuslavsky, a senior who was as cerebral a point guard as Chambers remembers coaching. Junior shooting guard Sean Bohuslavsky provided lethal range, while senior Jacob Burns and sophomore Agustin Rivas provided supplemental scoring and toughness.
What Chambers didn’t see was much size.
Doria, listed at 6-foot-3, was the tallest Lancer starter. That figured to be a problem in a Class 5A Colorado Springs Metro League stocked with talented post players.
“We knew we weren’t going to be very big with three starters under 6 feet,” Chambers said.
With the help of frequent competitive rebounding drills in practice, the undersized Lancers fought their way to the round of 16, finishing the season 18-7 with all seven losses coming from four teams to earn Gazette Preps 2017-18 Class 5-4A Boys Basketball Coach of the Year.
“They met and exceeded expectations,” Chambers said.
Rampart and 6-foot-11 center Dawson Carper got Liberty three times by a total of 11 points. Doherty and its frontcourt duo of 6-foot-6 Joe Golden and 6-foot-7 Alijah Bates knocked off Liberty twice with the other losses coming to Rock Canyon and George Washington, two teams that met in the 5A semifinals.
“They just never backed down regardless of the size of the other team,” Chambers said.
The highlight for the Liberty coach came when the Lancers went to Monument and handed Lewis-Palmer its first loss of the season, 71-58, on Jan. 20. They held the Rangers’ 6-foot-6 star Joel Scott under his season average.
“I think we kinda caught them at the right time,” Chambers said.
“We limited our mistakes. We were able to somewhat neutralize Joel.”
Chambers credited his team’s camaraderie and help from assistant coaches Roy Vieux, Marc Sites and Seth Thompson as reasons why Liberty accomplished more than most expected. While a little extra size may have allowed Doria, Rivas and Burns to play more natural positions on the perimeter and could’ve made for a couple more wins, Chambers is sticking with his group.
“I wouldn’t change out any single one of those guys,” Chambers said.
“This is probably the most fun year I’ve ever had coaching.”