ANDERSON – Something about Wes-Del’s gym seems to agree with Adonis House.
In the past two years – covering six sectional contests – the Liberty Christian center has averaged 19 points and 12.9 rebounds at the home of the Warriors.
Those totals include a 30-point, 23-rebound effort against the hosts in last year’s sectional opener and a 25-point, 20-rebound outing in Saturday’s championship game victory against Daleville.
If there were fantasy sports leagues for high school basketball, House would be the No. 1 pick every time he plays in Gaston.
So what it is that allows him to stuff the stat sheet so consistently at Wes-Del?
“Atmosphere, knowing that it is win or go home,” House said this week as the Lions prepare to play in the Class 1A regional Saturday at Frankfort. “When I go out there, and I know it’s win or go home, I’m gonna give it my all. I don’t care if I pass out on the court. I’m gonna play until I can’t play no more.
“I want to win. I don’t like losing, especially a tournament. So I’m gonna do what I got to do. “
Consider that fair warning.
Blue River Valley (15-10) will be first to try to stand in House’s way at noon Saturday at Case Arena. The other semifinal pits Lafayette Central Catholic (17-9) against Southwood (14-11).
It will be the Lions’ first regional appearance since 2017.
To say the 6-foot-8 senior is excited for his regional debut would be underselling it. Liberty Christian’s sectional losses over the past two seasons ate at his soul by him.
A failure to finish in the fourth quarter cost the Lions in close losses against Daleville in the 2020 sectional semifinals and Cowan in last year’s championship game.
“I don’t really know how (my teammates) felt about it, but – for me – I knew we should have won,” House said. “Ever since I’ve been here, I’ve thought we can go to state every single year. So, for me, anything other than state is kind of a disappointment because I believe our team can do that.
“So – for me – this year, I wasn’t taking any losses in sectional, especially. And I think we’re gonna do the same thing at regional and get a win there, too. “
It’s unwise to bet against him.
There was a lot of responsibility placed on House’s shoulders this season after last year’s leading scorer and rebounder, Christian Nunn, transferred to Crispus Attucks.
Suddenly, he was asked to be a leader and to produce big numbers on a nightly basis. House responded with career-high averages of 15.4 and 8.6 rebounds – up from 9.6 and 6.5 last season, respectively.
But he hasn’t carried the load alone. Liberty Christian regularly goes 11 players deep, and five Lions average at least 9 points.
The depth was evident in last week’s sectional, when House got into early foul trouble in both the opening round and the semifinals. He still finished with 20 points and nine rebounds in an 83-64 win against Tri-Central in the first round, but he had just eight points and six boards in the semfinals against Wes-Del.
The Lions won 87-66 to advance to the final, and House responded with his dominant game in the 85-50 win against Daleville.
“We knew that having him and (6-foot-7 junior) Kobe (Watson), having that size would really benefit him,” Lions coach Jason Chappell said. “And we knew that he would kind of lead the way, and then when you top that with what we have on the outside with Ethan (Troutman), Eric (Troutman) and Zack (Jeffers), Ced (Anderson), Ced’s motor, you put all that stuff together, that’s a pretty deadly combination. “
Balance is among the keys for this Liberty Christian postseason run.
Watson averages 9.8 points and 5.4 rebounds in tandem with House. Jeffers averages 12.8 points and shoots 47% from 3-point range. Ethan Troutman averages 7.7 points and shoots 45% from beyond the arc, and Eric Troutman has averaged 9.3 points and a team-high 4 assists in 11 games since returning from a preseason health scare.
Cedric Anderson adds a little bit of everything with 9.2 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.8 steals per game, and it’s easy to see how the Lions can get on a roll.
They’ve won five straight games and seven of eight since a 67-62 loss against Indianapolis Washington on Feb. 5.
House marks that as a turning point for the season. Practices got crisper, mental focus got sharper and the team started to come together for a common goal.
The Lions have averaged 81.1 points with an average margin of victory of 29.8 points during that stretch.
It’s the sign of a battle-tested team that intentionally played four Class 4A opponents this season.
“We didn’t schedule those teams because we thought we were gonna beat them,” House said. “Do we think we can beat them? Yes. But we schedule those teams to get better for tournament time. Regular season is regular season. Tournament time is where it matters most. “
And nobody is better when it matters most than House.
That’s no accident. Those big postseason numbers over the past two years are the result of a lot of trial-and-error.
He’s put in the work, made the adjustments, grown on and off the court and now he’s reaping the benefits.
“He’s had a lot of things in his personal life that he’s had to go through, a lot of adversities,” Chappell said. “And I think that he’s had to learn that, how to face adversity and how to rise to the occasion. He’s just like any normal kid who makes mistakes, but he’s also the kind of kid that people want to go to battle for and want to help and want to play with.
“As big and tall as he is, he’s also gentle. And I’d say he’s a gentle giant. “