, Corbin, KY

Local Sports

March 6, 2014

Tigers look to eliminate Middlesboro for second straight year

CORBIN — By Les Dixon / Staff Writer

Even though his team is the defending 13th Region champion, Robert Marcum was quick to point out he doesn’t believe his Tigers are the favorite to repeat just yet.

“We’ve got to improve on defense,” he said. “If we do that, I like our chances.”

Clay County will get the chance to show its improved with today’s first round game with upstart Middlesboro, who is only one of two teams (Williamsburg being the other) with a losing record in the tournament.

“Middlesboro is a good team,” Marcum said. “Once you get this far, you can throw the records out. I know we beat them at home not to long ago, but I expect a closer game this time around.

“We can’t and won’t overlook them,” he added. “The key for us is to go out there and execute our game plan. If we do that, I believe we can be successful.”

The Yellow Jackets enter the tournament just like seasons past, a dangerous team.

Middlesboro surprised many by upsetting Harlan County in the 52nd District Tournament last week, punching their ticket to the 13th Region Tournament.

“Clay County is one of the better teams in this thing and they come in as the defending champions, so I feel like they have to be the favorite,” Middlesboro coach Russell Thompson said. “Clay County knocked us out of the tournament last season and they beat us pretty handily earlier in the year, so hopefully we can put something together and learn from those experiences.”

“You have to bring everything you’ve got to these things and hope for the best in the fact that your kids perform well for you,” he added. “There are several teams in this that can put together a good little run and win it and that’s what I think will happen. One team will come in here and just play really good basketball and surprise somebody and pull away. Hopefully that team is us.”

Despite beating the Yellow Jackets, 102-64, in Manchester just a couple of weeks ago, Marcum expressed concern about tonight’s match-up.

“Middlesboro likes to play uptempo, so we’ve go to be ready to play on defense,” he said. “Our Achilles’ heel has been our defense, if we can improve on that, I believe we’ll be OK.

“Here we are averaging 75 points a game, but we’re having trouble on defense,” Marcum added. “We’ve got to improve in that part of our game.”

A plus for Clay County, though, is the Tigers posses one of the best players in the region in Chip McDaniel, and his supporting cast of Trey Farmer, Wes Wolfe, Blake Smith and Jake Allen will be hard for Middlesboro to contain.

“We’ve got some new kids on the team, so you never know how they’re going to react until they get out there and play,” Marcum said. “We’re not satisfied with winning a district title. These kids want to go the next step and win the region, too. We just need to take things one game at a time.”


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