Palsgrove’s points: Reflecting on the greatness by this Flames basketball team

With the men’s basketball championship loss to Kennesaw State comes the end of the Flames March Madness hopes, and it also comes time for the Flames faithful to say goodbye to so many seniors that have been a part of this team. 

Redshirt senior guard and Liberty legend Darius McGhee, though he may have had a rough night shooting the ball, will always be a superstar in Lynchburg, and his name will forever be etched in the record books of this university after claiming the title of scoring leader for the Flames and three-time Player of the Year for the ASUN. 

Senior forward Kyle Rode, who recently won ASUN Scholar Athlete of the Year, during this loss secured his 1,000th point for the Flames. He also single-handedly kept this team in the game through much of it, scoring a team and season-high 23 points. 

Another senior forward, Shiloh Robinson, had an incredible performance in the finals. Though he fouled out near the end of regulation, he had two key scores — one a layup, the other an earth-shattering dunk that kept the Flames in this game. 

The third member of the trio of senior forwards is Blake Preston, whose energy and presence in the paint will not be something that can be easily replaced. His performance on both ends of the floor has been more than incredible for the Flames. 

The final senior for this Flames unit is fan favorite guard Stephen Burggraf. Burggraf didn’t get any minutes in this loss, but his impact on this team and on the court can still be felt. His energy and his passion for this team and the sport will forever by matched by the fan’s energy and adoration of the former manager turned player. 

For this Flames unit, there is no doubt that the future is bright. With freshman guard Colin Porter, sophomore guard Joseph Venzant, junior guard Isiah Warfield and freshman forward Zach Cleveland, this team has building blocks that can lead them to success for as long as they remain on the roster. 

However, this isn’t a time to think to the future. This is a time to reflect on what this team has been this season, appreciate the players and be thankful for the moments that were brought to Lynchburg by this Liberty Flames team. 

The team that boasted one of the best guard combinations in the nation. The team that lost just one game at home all season. The team that won 26 games, making them one of just eight teams in the country to do so. 

“I’m just grateful for the experience (we got) from a season standpoint and pray that it’s not over,” Head Coach Ritchie McKay said. “I really just wanted to collect my thoughts to share with a group that I absolutely love. I adore them, and I told them I thought the tears were healthy. I think we get this narrative as kids that real men don’t cry, and (I believe) their tears show their ownership, their investment and their commitment in what we do as a basketball family. So, I’m even more thankful after leaving that locker room.”

So yes, this Flames team may have lost a game, but now is not a time to mourn. Now is a time to be grateful — grateful for the moments, grateful for the wins and the losses, but most importantly, grateful for this team. 

Palsgrove is the asst. sports editor for the Liberty Champion. Follow him on Twitter

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