Posted: Friday, 09 November 2012 12:55PM

Liberty boys basketball looks to defend district title

Springfield, Mo. (  -- The expectations that MV/BT Liberty head boys basketball coach Rob Brown has for his team are simple.

“We are defending district champions with a great deal of experience and ability returning, I think anything less than repeating will be a disappointment,” Brown said.

The Eagles return three starters from that 17-13 district championship team with football star Jaelon Acklin leading the way.

Acklin, who is the quarterback of the football team, averaged 17.3 points per game last year to go with 5.3 boards. James Denton, a 5-foot-10 junior also averaged in double figures at 11.3 points per game and was Second-Team All-Conference. Adam Niehaus, also a junior, is the other returning starter.

Senior Dakota Sharp along with juniors Hunter Barnes and Austin Smotherman are returning lettermen for the team. Tad Zitter, a senior, will be back on the court after missing all of last season with knee surgery.

Six-foot-five junior Zane Cornman will bring some size to the team and is a presence in the middle blocking shots. Luke Daniels, a 6-foot-3 sophomore who is the younger brother of Drury’s Derek Daniels, will also be a new face to watch this year.

Jansen Acklin, the younger brother of Jaelon, will be a three-point threat in his sophomore season, while fellow sophomore Bryan Porter will also be competing to crack the starting five. Senior Daniel French will return to the team and junior Tyler Hedden will provide outside shooting.

The offense is potent at Liberty, but Brown will work to see improvement on the defensive end of the court.

“Our top off-season and pre-season priority is improvement in our team defense,” Brown said. “I believe we can get points, we are just focused on our rotations, communication and pressure on defense.”

Most of the Liberty basketball team also played football, so switching gears from the gridiron to the basketball court will be a key as the Eagles have a tough early schedule.

“The first month of our schedule is pretty brutal,” Brown said. “We play Rogersville, Strafford, Alton, Eminence, West Plains, Licking and the Thayer tournament before Christmas. (They are) great early tests; all of them.”

MV/BT Liberty will open the season on Nov. 23 against Rogersville.

Photo Galleries

Pictures: Mizzou 38, South Dakota State 18

The Tigers won their opening game of the season in front of 60,000 people.

Pictures: Strafford XC Meet

Springfield Catholic swept the team titles while Tabitha Weber and Daylan Quinn clenched individual gold medals.

Pictures: Top 100 Photos of Week 2 Football

Catch the 100 best photos from the second week of the football season.
O-Zone Opinion
Mohawk Chronicles: Week 2 Football Recap
Who were the big players from Week 2 football? What do you have to look forward to in Week 3. I cover it all here. See all of Week Two's top plays in the video above. Big Man on Campus Johnny Healy, Mountain Grove – Often...
Read More
5 Takeaways from Mizzou's win over SDSU
Mizzou opened its football season with a 38-18 win over FCS opponent South Dakota State on Saturday. Here are five things I am taking away from the first game of the season. PICTURES: MIZZOU VS. SOUTH DAKOTA STATE - CLICK HERE 1. It is a good thing...
Read More
Win or lose, 2014's the turning point for Bears' program
 The freshness of a new season offers a chance for a fresh start, hope and the promise of a better future.   And if you’ve been a Missouri State football fan or follower for any part of the past two and a half decades, you know no team...
Read More
Most Viewed