WILLIAMSBURG — The Williamsburg Lady Yellow Jackets are preparing for their second go-around in next week’s All ‘A’ Classic Girls State Tournament at Eastern Kentucky University.
Last week, the Lady Yellow Jackets captured their second 13th Region All ‘A’ Classic title in three years after running through the competition and picking up four straight wins with victories over Barbourville, Lynn Camp, Pineville and Jackson County.
Williamsburg Coach Randy Crider said he saw a lot of perseverance in his team throughout last week’s tournament, especially with the Lady Yellow Jackets being without the services of their head coach, who served a three-game suspension after being ejected during Williamsburg’s stay in the Smoky Mountain Classic.
“Not being able to coach the first three games was extremely stressful but at the same time, I felt confident in our girls and my coaching staff to be able to stick together and pull it out,” Crider said. “Once we got to the championship game and I was able to come back and coach, I wanted to do my best not to screw things up.”
Crider said one of his team’s biggest strengths heading into the state tournament next week is the improvement he’s seen out of his defense.
“The biggest thing is, since Christmas, I feel like we have become a better defensive team and over the next couple games and even including that Knox Central loss, we just want to continue to get better, as long as we can continue to improve and focus on the defensive side of the ball,” he said. “On the offensive side, we seem to be doing pretty good, it’s probably my best offensive teams I’ve had as a coach. So, defensively is what I pride myself on and want my teams to be known for and I feel like as long as we keep getting better at that every day, the sky is the limit.”
With this being his team’s second time in the All ‘A’ state tournament, Crider believes most of the Lady Yellow Jackets’ jitters from two years ago will be gone.
“We have a lot of girls that will be playing that have a lot of experience in Richmond, so hopefully that will bode well for us when we get there,” he said. “The last time it was really nerve wracking, not knowing what to expect and the large arena and bigger crowds than usual, so hopefully we’ll be able to come out guns blazing just because we have the confidence that we’ve already been there, we’ve done this before.
“Win or lose, I hope they take this experience and will be able to take the memories that are going to last the rest of their lives. That was what we had the last time being the first team in (school) history playing in the tournament, so that was a privilege. It definitely stung not being able to get back there last year, so being there this year, hopefully the girls will be able to take it all in and enjoy it regardless of any of the outcomes.”
The Lady Yellow Jackets are also looking for donations to help the players pay for expenses, such as meals, during their stay in next week’s tournament. Donations may be dropped off at Williamsburg Independent School by Tuesday afternoon or someone wishing to donate can contact Crider at Williamsburg Independent School, as the team will be leaving for Richmond on Tuesday night.
“We’re looking forward to the experience and the atmosphere,” Crider said. “We’d love to have people come out and would love to see a huge crowd up there on Wednesday.”