Liberty overcomes sluggish start to beat Hazen, 54-48

January 6, 2012

Both teams look to improve in conference play

Ben Wessel, Liberty High School senior post, fouls Hazen High School junior center Cody Moorhead on the putback from a rebound during the first quarter of the Dec. 22 game. By Greg Farrar

As the Hazen High School boys team opened play against Liberty on Dec. 22, Hazen coach Ryan Thompson liked the pace his team was setting.

Led by senior guard starter Alex Olson’s eight points in the first quarter, the Highlanders were up 17-8 after the first quarter of the game.

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Liberty girls grab decisive 66-39 win over Hazen

January 6, 2012

Hazen senior Airashay Rogers contributes 19 points

As the Liberty High School girls basketball team squared off against Hazen High School, they knew they had a lot riding on their shoulders.

After beating out Sumner and Newport, as well as conference foes Sammamish, Bellevue, Juanita and Mercer Island, they remained undefeated.

The Patriots kept that streak alive on their home court with a decisive 66-39 victory over the Highlanders on Dec. 22.

Adele Payant (left), Liberty High School sophomore center, and Hazen High School sophomore forward Gabby Brower chase after a rebound late during the third quarter Dec. 22. By Greg Farrar

“We’ve been able to finish games off when they’re close, and we’ve had some close ones,” Liberty coach Randy Leifer said. “We shoot the ball well, and we’ve got three returning starters this year that give us an inside presence.”

The Patriots entered the game strong, scoring 23 points in the first quarter, and held the Highlanders to just 10 points in the first half.

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Hazen basketball standout signs to play with Huskies

December 1, 2011

Airashay Rogers, the star senior point guard for the Hazen Highlanders girls basketball team, will be the first student athlete in two years to graduate from the school and go on to play a Division I sport in college.

Rogers signed a letter of intent Nov. 21 to play basketball for the University of Washington — the first high school recruit to be brought into the new helm of first-year coach Kevin McGuff.

Rogers, who will study business and marketing at the school, said she’s still focused on a successful season with Highlanders basketball.

Hazen High School senior point guard Airashay Rogers signs a letter of intent to play for the University of Washington. By Christina Lords

“It’s not going to be anything easy,” she said. “I still have to focus on my high school season before I try to go past it. I still want to make sure I have the same connection with my team as before. Nothing has changed, I’m just moving on next year.”

Rogers averaged 26 points per game, 2.4 assists, two blocks, 9.4 rebounds and 6.5 steals per game for the Highlanders last season.

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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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