Liberty High School girls basketball Noah Simpson sat behind a microphone late Saturday night, with his team surrounding him, and tried to recap the Blue Jays’ season in only a few words.
Unsuccessfully, of course.
In the aftermath of Liberty’s runner-up finish in Missouri Class 5, Simpson required a monologue to summarize the previous five months. He spoke of the group’s hard-working nature, its lofty expectations and its competitive drive.
Ultimately, though, the success of Liberty’s season can be traced back to the start of the season, he decided.
“We knew we had the pieces to be pretty good, but you still never know which way it’s going to go,” Simpson said. “A couple of weeks into the season, we started buying in, (to the point) where we had girls excited to play defense, excited to rebound the basketball. That’s when I knew we could be something special.”
The Blue Jays finished 27-4 and won the Suburban Red Conference championship. The schedule included a victory against four-time state champion Rock Bridge, though the Bruins avenged that game Saturday with a 49-35 victory at Mizzou Arena in the state championship game.
It nearly ended on a better note.
Liberty led 22-18 at halftime — utilizing that defense to create 12 first-half turnovers and prevent Rock Bridge from getting into an offensive rhythm.
The Liberty offense couldn’t follow suit. The Blue Jays scored only 13 points over the final two quarters on 29.4 percent shooting.
“It seemed like we couldn’t get the ball to go in the ocean at that point,” Simpson said.
By the end of Simpson’s season assessment, he turned the focus to next year, when the Blue Jays return four starters.
Junior forward Morgan Fleming will be back after leading the team with 15.2 points per game. Sydney Offield, McKenzie Hull and Taylor Gerstner are also set to return.
“I think this helps us a lot because we do have a lot of players,” Offield said. “It’s good to get a feel for what it’s like. It gives us motivation for next year.
“We aren’t satisfied with this season, but we’re happy and we’re blessed for the opportunity. We’re ready for next year.”