By Chris Parsons / Staff Writer
Coming into the 2012-13 season, Barbourville Lady Tigers head coach Andrea Hillard had a slight advantage over other 13th Region coaches.
With an unusually large group of juniors (seven, and no seniors) to lead the way on this year's squad, Hillard said she felt like she knew exactly what her team was capable of from the word go.
“We set some high goals coming into this season because I felt like we had a real shot to reach all of them,” Hillard said. “From the time this group of juniors were in the fifth grade, it was obvious that they would have a chance to do something special.
“I watched as they took some tough losses over the years and saw a change,” she added. “There was a point when you could see that they were tired of being on the losing side of some of the beatings they had taken.”
As the season approached, Hillard said the team set three goals to reach during the season. The first was to win 51st District rival Lynn Camp's annual tournament, the Bowman Memorial Classic. The second was to win the 13th Region All 'A' Tournament and the third was to earn the top seed in the 51st District Tournament.
Just a few days more than two months into the season and the Lady Tigers have made good on two of the three goals.
On Dec. 20, Hillard watched her team hoist the 17th Annual Bowman Memorial Classic championship trophy and just last week, the Lady Tigers knocked off Lynn Camp at home to guarantee at least a tie for first place in the final district standings.
Sandwiched in between those two achievements was a loss to Lynn Camp in the opening round of the All 'A' Tournament.
All is not lost though. Hillard said the lone bright spot on missing out on the chance to play for an All 'A' championship is the fact the same group will get another crack at it next season as seniors.
“I told the girls after that loss that they couldn't hang their heads because we had more work to do,” Hillard said. “They get a rare second chance to reach that goal next season, so it's important to finish strong this season and learn from what we've done so far this season.”
Exactly what Barbourville has done is go 15-8 overall, 10-6 against 13th Region foes and 5-1 in 51st District competition. Not to mention it all started with a record-setting five-game win streak to start the season before falling to another of the region's top teams in the Corbin Lady Redhounds.
The Lady Tigers followed that loss up with consecutive wins over Jellico, Tenn., Pineville, Lynn Camp and Williamsburg in the Bowman Invitational.
Since then though, the Lady Tigers have been hit-and-miss and haven't won back-to-back games since Dec. 20. Despite the inconsistency in the win column, Hillard said neither she nor her team have panicked.
The fact her team has played a tough schedule combined with what she called a “shooting slump,” is why she thinks the Lady Tigers have slowed down.
As the season begins to wind down, Hillard said she has all the faith in the world that her squad will right the ship and eventually be in the mix for the 13th Region title and a trip to the KHSAA Sweet Sixteen.
“I know these kids are tired right now, because they have played a fairly tough schedule,” Hillard said. “Once things wind down and they get their legs and confidence back, I'm confident that we will compete with the top teams in our region.
“I've seen what these girls can do and I expect them to be in the mix for the 13th Region championship,” she added. “When it comes down to it, I have to have faith in them because if I don't believe in them, how can I expect them to believe in themselves.”
Hillard believes Lady Tigers will be fine going down the stretch
By Chris Parsons / Staff Writer
- Local Sports
Clay County looks to avenge early season loss to Harlan
The Clay County Lady Tigers come in to today's semifinals showdown with Harlan having won four of the last five and six of the last eight 13th Region
Chris Parsons' Daily Region Pick 'Em
It's down to the games that really count and to be honest, with four games to pick in today's edition, there's not a lot of room to goof around. Not only did I take two steps back in Friday's picks, I fell behind Les Dixon. With that said, it's time to play catch-up.
The Williamsburg Yellow Jackets are partying like it's 1987! That was the last time the Jackets won a game in the 13th Region Tournament, and they ended the 27-year drought with a 47-44 win over the heavily-favored Knox Central Panthers on Thursday night.
Les Dixon's Daily Region Pick'Em
When it comes to picking region tournament games, it’s not an easy task to say the least. This is the most parity that I’ve ever seen in the 13th Region Boys and Girls Tournaments.
If Clay County’s play during the first game of the 13th Region Tournament is any indication of things to come, Robert Marcum’s squad could be well on its way of capturing their second straight 13th Region championship.
The Way it is
Since I’m picking Corbin to pull off the upset against Jackson County today, I figured I’d give my top five upsets dating back to 2005-06 when the 13th realigned and welcomed both North and South Laurel high schools to the mix.
Tony Pietrowski’s Corbin Redhounds have been favored during the past two first round 13th Region match-ups, and have been upset both times. Corbin is hoping things might change a bit this time around.
Barbourville will have hands full against Bell County today
Dinky Phipps’ Barbourville Tigers are looking for their first 13th Region Tournament win dating back to 2006’s tournament when they defeated Clay County in the regional semifinals.
Like It or Not
There’s an elephant in the room at this year’s 13th Region Tournament, and really in basketball in general, and I guess I’ll be the first one to point it out (publicly with my name attached to it).
Chris' Daily Region Pick'Em
With the first three days of opening round games in the books, I can honestly say I'm not surprised that I'm 4-2 overall when it comes to my pick'ems record.
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