By Les Dixon / Sports Editor
The 13th Region’s top two teams will square-off against each other today at Whitley County High School.
Larry Anderson’s Whitley County Lady Colonels are 4-0 and have been outscoring their opponents by an average of 15 points a game, while three-time defending region champion Clay County is 2-0 and doesn’t seem to have missed a beat after losing the services of Whitney Belle Jackson, who graduated.
The Lady Tigers also bring to the table some top notch credentials. Clay County is riding a 46-game win streak against 13th Region opponents. The Lady Tigers are also 90-2 against 13th Region opponents dating back to the 2005-6 season. The last time James Burchell’s squad lost to a 13th Region foe was back on March 9, 2008 when South Laurel handed the Lady Tigers a 74-64 loss.
Whitley County is the last 13th Region team to hand Clay County a regular season loss and that came on Jan. 21, 2008 when the Lady Colonels picked up a 44-32 win.
“Clay County is No. 1 until somebody beats them,” Anderson said. “I don’t know if we’re going to talk much about their streak. I kind of hesitate doing stuff like that because then your team overplays the game. If we win, it will be something we can build on and if we lose, we can build on it as well.”
Anderson admitted he’s impressed with the way Clay County has been able to sustain such dominance against 13th Region teams.
“It’s pretty impressive,” he said. “The amazing thing is how they maintain the level of play each year. It doesn’t matter who they have, they’ll always have solid guard play, play good defense and have a very good post player.
“Few high school teams across the state have been able to accomplish what they have,” he added. “You have to give them credit. The thing about Clay County is they don’t change much. Like I said, they have good guards and they do what what they do best — and they do it exceptionally well.”
But don’t let Anderson fool you, he’s got a pretty good team, too.
The Lady Colonels might be young, but they are led by sophomore guard Brandi Smith, who is averaging close to 20 points per game this season.
“This is one of the better teams I’ve had,” Anderson said. “We shoot the ball well and we will play 10 players. We have depth and that could be a plus for us.”
Clay County might have lost the services of Jackson, but they picked up former North Laurel star Cheyenne Madden, who scored a game-high 18 points during her first game in a Lady Tiger uniform this past week. The Lady Tigers also possess Sabrina Smith, Taluara Mathis, Morgan Chesnut and Alicia Mitchell, who all have the ability to score in double figures.
“Getting the Madden kid is huge for them,” Anderson said. “That gives them another strong post player. Most teams are lucky to have one good post player, but they’re on top of the world with two.
“They’re going to cause some matchup problems, but we’re just going to go out there and see who can execute the best,” he added. “Hopefully, our depth can play a role and we’ll see what happens.”