By Les Dixon / Staff Writer
Two teams that are ready to make some noise will square-off today during first round action of the 13th Region Tournament.
Andrea Hillard’s Barbourville Lady Tigers enter today’s match-up with Harlan, as one of the hottest teams in the region. The Lady Tigers (16-12) are riding a three-game win streak while coming off their second straight 51st District championship.
The two teams met on Feb. 1 with Barbourville coming away with a 78-70 victory over the Lady Green Dragons.
Harlan has hit some bumps in the road since winning the 13th Region All ‘A’ Classic championship, going 5-6 during their last 11 games in the regular season.
“We watched Harlan in the All ‘A’ and we played them in quite an offensive game earlier in the season,” Hillard said. “Harlan has a very young team that has a whole lot of talent, while we have a veteran dominant team. With that in mind, this should be a really good matchup and it should be a game that is fun to watch for the fans.
“As for our team, we had a rough start to the season in the form of various injuries, but our kids are healthy for the most part and we are playing well right now,” she added. “We have five seniors that start for us and they’ve done a good job of keeping things moving for us and that’s what we'll expect from them in this tournament. I think each of our seniors have decided that they want to extend their high school careers as long as they possibly can, so I expect to come out and lay it all on the line every single night.”
Despite his team’s inconsistency of late, Harlan coach Derrick Akal believes his Lady Green Dragons can make some noise.
“Barbourville beat us a few weeks back at their place and they’re very capable of doing it again, so we have to come prepared to play,” he said. “They (Barbourville) have four players that are averaging double figures, so our kids have to be able to defend them and try and limit the ways they can hurt us offensively.
“As far as getting excited about playing, if they can get up right now then there is nothing I can say as a coach to get them excited,” Akai added. “I have a lot of young kids on this team, so if they don’t walk in here excited and with butterflies in their stomachs about playing this game, then we’ve got bigger problems than I thought to worry about.”
By Les Dixon / Staff Writer
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