, Corbin, KY

Local Sports

March 5, 2014

A lot on the line

Elimination awaits loser of Clay/Whitley County showdown

CORBIN — By Les Dixon / Staff Writer

The best match-up of the 13th Region Tournament’s first round action looks like it could be saved for last when 49th District champion Clay County will face-off against 50th District runner-up Whitley County.

The Lady Tigers (20-10) enter the game riding an 11-game win streak while flying under the radar for most of the season, which coach James Burchell seems pleased with.

“We got as good as a draw we could get under the circumstances,” he said. “I don’t mind being under the radar. Not many people are picking us any way. We’re going to go out there and try our best to execute.

“Whitley County is a very good team, and we played them last year, but they managed to hit a last second shot on us and beat us,” he added. “We’ve got to make sure to guard the perimeter and make sure they don’t get open looks because if they do, they can hit them.”

Don’t let Burchell fool you, he’s got some solid players as well.

Guard Ajaycia Cotton leads the Lady Tigers with a 16-point scoring average while Sara Robinson follows with an 11.8 scoring average and Courtney Woods is scoring 11 points a game while being ranked as one of the best shooters in the state with an impressive 65.6 percent field goal percentage.

“Coach Burchell has been in this tournament more times than most coaches and he knows what he’s doing,” Whitley County coach Donnie Jones said. “He has his group playing better than they have played all year and I look for them to continue to play well.

“The thing about the draw is that you’re going to have to beat the best teams to get where you want to be, so you just have to prepare for your next opponent and move on,” he added. “We’ll try to get ready for Clay County and then Tuesday we’ll se what we can come in here and do.”

The Lady Colonels might be coming off of a 50th District title game loss to Corbin, but many believe they might just be the team to beat.

Whitley County has a lot of weapons and is led by senior Brandi Smith, along with center Kandace Craig, sharp shooter Maria Johnson, Taylor Dingess, Hallie Jones and Abbey Estes.

“They have a good team,” Burchell said. “We’re not going to overlook them. At this point of the season, you’re not going to overlook anyone. This is one of the best fields in the region tournament since I’ve been coaching here. The keys for us is not to turn the ball over against them, and like I said, guard the perimeter. We have to keep them from hitting three-pointers.

“We’ve also got to hit our outside shots,” he added. “We’ve been doing a very good job of doing that during some of our past games, and hopefully we can continue that in the region tournament. Hopefully we can continue to compete because there are no easy games now.”


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