By Chris Parsons / Staff Writer
If you ask any Class 1A basketball coach school to underline their season’s goals, it’s almost certain that the All “A” Classic tournament will be toward the front every time.
The girls’ 13th region All “A” Tournament gets underway today at Williamsburg High School and three local teams will be fighting to move on as they set their sights on Frankfort and the All “A” state tournament later this month.
The action gets started tonight with what could be one of the better matchups of the tournament, pitting two teams on similar paths (they also happent to be district rivals) in the early stages of the season against each other for the second time in less than a month.
Lynn Camp (11-3) and Barbourville (12-3) met up in the 17th Annual Bowman Memorial Classic on January 17, where the Lady Tigers came away with a 32-29 win. Lately, Lynn Camp had won four straight before being knocked off by Whitley County last week, while Barbourville comes in having won two straight over South and North Laurel.
Considering the way both teams are playing, if you expect the coaches of either team to say who has the edge, don’t hold your breath.
Barbourville head coach Andrea Hillard said one thing is for sure, fans can expect a battle when the game tips off.
“Lynn Camp is one of the stronger teams in this tournament,” Hillard said. “We’ve played them once already this season so we know them, and they know us pretty well.
“Neither team is going to be overlooking the other, so it really should be a good matchup,” she added.
On the Lynn Camp side of things, Lady Cats’ head coach Richard Jones said anything can happen when these tournaments get underway and that his team is approaching the game like any other game. One things Jones said he hasn’t focused on is the revenge factor.
“The revenge factor is something that may affect the game early on, but once things get started, it doesn’t really play any part,” Jones said. “Barbourville is just like us and their goals are probably just like ours as well.
“I’m sure they wanted to win the Bowman Tournament and I guarantee they want to win the All “A” tournament as well,” he added. “You have to go out there and play one game at a time and try to go at your goals one at a time.”
While Barbourville and Lynn Camp will face off Monday, the host team, the Williamsburg Lady Jackets will have to wait until Tuesday for a chance to move on when they face Pineville.
Amber Ellis’ squad has struggled this season, having started 1-15 with their lone win coming against Jackson County, but she said there’s no time like the present to get a jump start on turning the season around.
“Now is our time to turn things around and show people that we can play basketball,” Ellis said. “I think we have a good shot at winning a few games and maybe getting to the championship game.
“We’ve got to get past Pineville first,” she added. “We’re taking it one game at a time so, if we do that, we’ll see where we go from there.”
Midway through the season, Ellis said one thing that has hurt Williamsburg so far is youth. At the same time, she said the All “A” tournament is a perfect chance to show how her team can prove that youth can be a double-edged sword.
“The good things about being young is that the younger girls don’t seem to dwell on the losses as much,” Ellis said. “With that said, they can turn things around because it may not get them down.
“Hopefully our whole team can use this opportunity to turn things around and show that we can play good basketball,” she added. “We’ve played good at times this season, but we still haven’t put together an entire game where we’ve played well. Hopefully we can do that in the All “A” here at home.”
Barbourville and Lynn Camp will tip off at 7 p.m. today at Williamsburg High School, while Williamsburg will face Pineville at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.