By Les Dixon For the Tines-Tribune
The Lynn Camp Wildcats are searching for their first playoff win since 2005, and they're going to be hard-pressed to end the seven-year drought Friday against defending region champion Hazard.
The Wildcats (3-7) will try to pull off the upset on the road against the Bulldogs during first round action of the Class A playoffs.
Phil Russell's squad enters the game riding a four-game losing skid while the same can't be said for Mark Dixon's Hazard team.
The Bulldogs (9-1) are currently winners of nine straight, which includes going 4-1 against regional teams this season. Their lone loss came against Pikeville during the first game of the season, losing to the Panthers in a shoot out, 62-50.
“They're the defending region champion and we know we've got our hands full,” Russell said. “We're excited to go up to Hazard and have the opportunity to play them. I've told our kids that every year in the playoffs a No. 4 seed beats a No. 1 seed, and we believe that can happen this week.”
But to do so, Lynn Camp must find a way to stop Hazard's high-scoring offensive attack. The Bulldogs are averaging 36.8 points per game and 475 yards on offense, while the Wildcats defense is allowing 37.8 points per game.
“We've got to continue to improve,” Russell said. “I saw some improvement last week against Middlesboro, but we need to continue to improve, especially on defense.”
Hazard is led by a strong running attack of Brandon Jones, and the arm of quarterback Tanner Moore. Moore has completed 113-of-167 pass attempts this season for 1,877 yards, 22 touchdowns and seven interceptions.
Jones has been virtually unstoppable in the backfield. He's carried the ball 128 times for 1,638 yards and 16 touchdowns. Moore's main receiving threats are Christopher Hudson and Trey Higgins.
Hudson has 39 receptions for 795 yards and 12 touchdowns, while Higgins has 22 catches for 395 yards and three touchdowns.
“They've got a lot of weapons,” Russell said. “We've got to find a way to slow them down. They can put up a lot of points quick, and we can't allow them to do that.”
Russell said he's hoping his team can control the football with an impressive option-type offense he has been running lately. He's got the talent to do just that with players such as Aaron Mills, Keanu Nolan and Tommy Hatfield.
“For us to win, we've got to control the ball,” Russell admitted. “We can't turn the ball over and we can't make mistakes. We've got to stay away from penalties, too.
“We've got to find a way to slow them down,” he added. “Their quarterback is very good and they've also got a good running back, too.”
By Les Dixon For the Tines-Tribune
- Local Sports
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.
You can never count out the Clay County Lady Tigers when it comes to the 13th Region Tournament.
Les Dixon's Daily Region Pick'em
After going just .500 during the girls games, things are going to get even tougher when it comes to picking the 13th Region Boys Tournament games.
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