By Les Dixon / Sports Editor
Dinky Phipps’ Barbourville Tigers are winners of seven straight 13th Region All ‘A’ Classic Tournament games, but win No. 8 might not come so easily today.
But Middlesboro stands in the way of another championship game appearance for the defending two-time Class ‘A’ 13th Region champions.
The two teams met back on Nov. 30 with the Yellow Jackets pulling out a 73-60 win, so Phipps knows what is in store for his team.
“I’ll be honest, this is one time Middlesboro is better than us,” he admitted. “They beat us earlier in the year and they have a lot of athletic talent on that team. They’ve got two good guards and they can rebound and they also scored in the paint against us.
“Can we stop that?” Phipps asked. “That’s the big question. If we can’t stop them from scoring in the paint, then we are in trouble.”
Phipps’ Tigers have surprised this season with the region’s third-best record at 12-6. After starting the season at 1-2, Barbourville has won 11 out of its last 15 games.
“I knew coming into the season that if we were going to be able to compete, we would have to work hard,” Phipps said. “The kids have done just that. They have put in a lot of work all year and it had paid off, but we also know that if we don’t work hard, it’s going to be hard for us to win.”
Middlesboro (10-7) extended its win streak to two during first round action of the 13th Region All ‘A’ Classic Tournament. The Yellow Jackets handed Oneida Baptist a 94-44 loss behind the play of Austin Poindexter and Donnie Foister. Poindexter led the way with 22 points while Foister followed with a 13-point effort.
“They are a very athletic team,” Phipps said. “We’ve got to slow them down. The one thing we’ve got to do is if we get down three to five points late, we’ve got to get that key shot.
“You know we like to run and gun and if our shots are falling, we are hard to beat,” he added. “But if they’re not, we’re in trouble.”
Barbourville also has a solid one-two punch in Devon Mills and Alexander Phipps.
“Devon is a hard worker,” Phipps said. “He puts a little extra push in the team and he has come up with some big games for us.
“Alexander has played well, too,” he added. “He couldn’t get his shot to fall against Lynn Camp, but he found the open man and did other things that helped us be successful. It’s going to be a tough game for us. I don’t know if we’re lucky right now or our hard work is paying off, but if we don’t play hard, I do know we will be in trouble.”