Liberty winter athletes take to postseason

March 4, 2011

Liberty High School’s swimmers and wrestlers stole the spotlight this winter season, reaching the state championships.

Swimmer Logan Briggs took second place in the state 3A championships in the 200-yard freestyle, helping lead Liberty’s swim team to a tie for seventh place at the state championships.

Hamilton Noel, Liberty High School junior, has the better position on Enumclaw’s Josh Musick early in their 152-pound state 3A championship match Feb. 19 at the Tacoma Dome. By Sebastian Moraga

Wrestler Hamilton Noel took second place in the state in 152-pound weight class.

Liberty’s basketball teams’ postseasons were cut short, with the girls falling in the Sea-King District Tournament, and the boys falling in the KingCo 3A Tournament.

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Liberty running back Chandler Jenkins signs with Air Force

March 4, 2011

A month ago, Liberty High School senior Chandler Jenkins wasn’t sure where he wanted to go to college. The three-sport athlete had received scholarship offers from numerous colleges to play football, but he wasn’t sure which one to take.

However, on national signing day Feb. 2, he signed a letter of intent with the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo.

“I didn’t want to regret the decision in five years,” Jenkins said.

Chandler Jenkins (second from right) poses for photos after signing a letter of intent to play football for the Air Force Academy. With him are former football and basketball coach Ken Burns (left) Liberty football head coach Steve Valach (second from left) and his father Cephus Jenkins (right). By Tim Pfarr

He said he wanted to set himself up for a good career, although he is not sure what field he would like to go into.

Jenkins will play the slot receiver position in the Air Force triple-option offense, and will get plenty of opportunities to run the ball.

Jenkins celebrated his signing before school Feb. 9 in Liberty’s career center. With him were his father Cephus, mother Kathleen, stepfather Neal, older brother Jordan, aunt Shirley and grandmother Thelma.

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Hazen boys basketball team reaches state tournament

March 4, 2011

Despite a midseason coaching change, the Hazen boys basketball team found great success in the 2010-2011 season, fighting through a district tournament to achieve its first state playoff berth since 2002.

Swimmer Chase Onstot and diver Brandon Alexander earned a trip to the state swimming and diving championships in Federal Way Feb. 19, and five Highlanders earned a trip to the state wrestling tournament in the Tacoma Dome Feb. 18.


The Hazen High School boys basketball team suffered a heartbreaking 1-point loss in the second game of the state tournament to end its season.

The berth in the tournament followed district tournament wins over Kelso, Bremerton, Camas and Kennedy high schools. Had Hazen lost one of those games, its season would have been over.

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Hazen dominates, Liberty struggles in January

February 4, 2011

The Hazen Highlanders boys basketball team blazed through January, posting an 8-1 record and falling only to 4A Skyline High School.

Thanks to its strong record, the team was 14-3 and one win away from clinching the Seamount League championship as of Newcastle News’ deadline Jan. 31.

Dawit Kasa, Hazen junior center, puts up a shot Jan. 18 during the fourth quarter of the Highlanders' 70-62 victory against Lindbergh. By Greg Farrar

Hazen will play in a seeding match before heading to the playoffs.

The Liberty Patriots went 3-5 in January, and its 5-11 overall record as of the News’ deadline was enough to advance it to a postseason seeding match.

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Drama is still unfolding in tale of two teams

January 7, 2011

Drama is still unfolding in tale of two teams

Hazen senior Brandt Graybeal leaps for a layup in the third quarter against Evergreen High School Dec. 15. Below, Hazen senior shooting guard Michael Dampier prepares to make a move in the first quarter against Evergreen. Photo by Tim Pfarr

The Hazen High School boys basketball team had a successful December, going 6-3 overall and 3-1 in conference play. However, the Liberty High School boys basketball team encountered adversity during the final month of 2010, going 3-6 overall and 1-3 in conference play.

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New coaches lead Liberty, Hazen basketball teams

January 7, 2011

Liberty High School and Hazen High School have named new head coaches to lead their boys basketball programs. Liberty officials brought on Joe Fithian, a former Seattle University coach, and Hazen officials called upon teacher, former head coach and former athletic director Gary Schaplow.

Joe Fithian

Liberty’s coaching situation was shaken last year when school officials fired former head coach Jevon Green mid-season. To fill the coaching holes, they hired Joe Fithian to take over as interim junior varsity head coach. In April, Liberty offered him the varsity job.

Joe Fithian imparts advice to the players on the Liberty HIgh School boys team during a recent game. By Greg Farrar

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Liberty girls go 2-1 in tournament

January 7, 2011

The Liberty High School girls basketball team won two of three games last week in the KingCo/WesCo Challenge Tournament at Juanita High School.

Liberty, 7-3 on the season, defeated Glacier Peak, 56-53, Dec. 28. Aspen Winegar tallied 17 points to lead the Patriots. Liberty fell behind by seven points in the first quarter, but fought back to tie Glacier Peak 24-24 at halftime. The Patriots went ahead in the third quarter and held a 43-40 lead entering the fourth quarter.

Danni Sjolander contributed 12 points and Halie Ericksen 11 points for Liberty.

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Hazen marches forward with help from underclassmen

September 2, 2010

Hazen running back Isaiah Talley works on his footwork at practice Aug. 23. Talley will be a threat with the ball as well as blocking. By Tim Pfarr

Coming off a 7-4 record last year, the Hazen High School Highlanders are looking to have another winning season.

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Liberty High School hires new hoops coach

May 7, 2010

Liberty High School has hired Joe Fithian as head coach of the boys varsity basketball team for the 2010-11 season.

Fithian served as interim junior varsity coach for the Patriots last season. He has more than 20 years of experience as a basketball coach, working at the high school and collegiate levels.

Prior to joining Liberty last season, Fithian was officiating high school games in the state.

“It was clear to the hiring committee that Joe possesses the skill set to lead the Liberty Patriots basketball program forward,” Liberty Principal Mike Deletis said in a press release. “We are excited to bring on a coach with strong values, coaching history, and a work ethic that will develop our student athletes and our basketball program.”

Fourth-graders win basketball tournament

May 7, 2010

The basketball team the Black Bears, which consists of 12 fourth-grade girls from Newcastle Elementary School, won an 18-team Boys and Girls Club fourth-grade girls tournament in March.

Teams from Renton, Issaquah, Bellevue, Kirkland and Mercer Island competed in the tournament.

“It was their first time doing something like this when they’re out competing,” said coach Paul Carr, whose daughter, Makena, played on the team. Carr said this was the first year where the score was even kept.

“They were just thrilled out of their minds,” he said about the girls. “I think the parents were even more excited.”

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