By Chris Parsons / Staff Writer
The Barbourville Lady Tigers are off to their best start in the team's history, sitting at 11-3 at the midway point of the season.
The Lady Tigers are also 6-2 against 13th Region teams, with the two losses coming at the hands of Corbin and Harlan County, while knocking off South Laurel for the first time in the team's history this past Sunday.
Despite all the team has done so far this season, head coach Andrea Hillard may be the one person that isn't surprised with the Lady Tigers. She said the difference in this team and teams past is she thinks this team 'just wants to win.'
“I honestly saw the potential for something like this in these kids,” Hillard said. “I saw it in their work ethic in preseason practices and games and with how they approach the game.
“It comes down to the fact that I think they were tired of being on the wrong end of some of the losses and beatings they have taken over the past few years,” Hillard added. “They decided they wanted to win and be on the other side of those games for a change. They put their mind to it and they've done it so far.”
With the first half of the season behind them, this week starts an important stretch of basketball for the Lady Tigers.
They'll host North Laurel tonight before opening the 13th Region All “A” Classic against Lynn Camp on Monday. Hillard said her team has had its sights set on the All “A” Classic for quite some time.
“It's one of our goals that we wanted to achieve this season, so the girls are really fired up about it,” Hillard said. “We've never won a girls' 13th Region All “A” at our school and these kids want to be the first team to accomplish that.
“I really feel like we have a good shot at it and I think we are playing well enough to win it,” she added. “But you still have to come out and perform well and beat the teams in front of you if you want to get there.”
The best thing the Lady Tigers may have going for them at this point of the season is even though they're sitting at 11-3, Hillard said she doesn't feel like her team has played its best basketball.
“We have played very good on both sides of the ball, but I don't feel like we have peaked by any means,” she said. “There are still some areas we need to get better, and there always are, but I think we're the kind of team that can improve every time out on the floor.
“I think if we can play as well as we were on offense as the season winds down as we did early on, we'll be a lot better,” she added. “We started out shooting around 52 percent and we've dropped to around 48 percent, so we need to get better offensively. We also have to shoot free throws better if we want to win close games.”
In the end, Hillard said all she is going to ask of her team is to keep pushing like they have been and play like they want to win.
“The kids want to win and that's important,” Hillard said. “They're not just putting in their time while they're here and you can tell. You have to want to win to be able to win.”