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Liberty, Staley advance to set up clash of top-five teams in C.W. Stessman Invitational championship game

Liberty and Staley cruised to easy wins in semifinal games Thursday night.

By Chris Geinosky| Photos by David Smith

LIBERTY — For the third year in a row, the Liberty and Staley boys basketball teams will meet in the final of the C.W. Stessman Invitational.

However, this next meeting at 8:30 p.m. Friday at the Liberty High School Fieldhouse holds a bit more importance than the ones previous. 

The host Blue Jays (15-0) own the No. 1 spot in the SBLive Missouri Top 25 power rankings, while Staley (14-2) comes in at No. 5.

“We told the guys after the game tonight, now we can talk about it,” Liberty head coach Roger Stirtz admitted. “This will be a fun high school basketball atmosphere.”

Oh, and by the way, these two teams are no strangers to one another. Not only are they separated by fewer than 10 miles, but these teams will also meet for the 10th time in the past four seasons.

“We know each other pretty well,” Staley head coach Chris Neff said. “This is a big game. The C.W. Stessman is a huge tournament, and it’s something we respect. I’ve had the good fortune to coach in this championship a number of different times, and it always excites me and the team that I’m coaching to be part of something this special. The crowd tomorrow night is going to be spectacular, and we need to play in that environment as much as we can. We look forward to the opportunity.”

Neff’s team advanced to the championship game on the strength of a 61-43 semifinal victory against William Chrisman (10-5). They did so thanks in large part to the work of one of the best inside-outside tandems in the state.