Both local high schools are poised to start the state playoffs with the Liberty County High School boys basketball team hosting Shaw tonight and the Bradwell Institute Lady Tigers hosting Luella tomorrow.
Both squads earned the right to host the first rounds after winning their respective region championships last weekend. The Panthers earned the Region 3-AAA trophy and the BI girls nabbed the 3-AAAAA title.
The Shaw Raiders have met the Liberty squad twice before in the state playoffs. The Hinesville boys won the first game 88-74 and the second one 55-54.
Panther coach Willie Graham said the Raiders are athletic and likely will slow the game’s tempo in an attempt to knock the Panthers out of their rhythm.
The boys are looking to improve on last year’s state run, which ended at the Sweet 16.
Tip-off is at 6 p.m. tonight.
Lady Tiger coach Faye Baker and her team will tip-off against the visiting Luella Lions at 6 p.m. Saturday.
These teams met last year at the Sweet 16 where the Lady Tigers won 57-56. But Baker said she doesn’t know much about this year’s Lion squad.
"I don’t know a whole lot about them other than they are out of Region 2, which is the region comprised of Redan and Stephenson and those powerhouse teams," she said. "They are used to playing in a very tough region so I’m sure their record is not really indicative of how their team really is. I’m sure they are better than 14-13."
She said she’s glad the Lady Tigers have a home-court advantage.
"We are comfortable at home," the coach said. "We also have experience on our side. A lot of these kids have been there, they went to the quarterfinals last year and they know what it’s all about. They understand at this point they have to win in order to advance. They know it’s all or nothing. I’m sure they are going to give it everything they have because I know they aren’t ready to go home yet."
Baker said her team has been able to accomplish a few of its short-term goals, such as winning the region and the region tournament.
"Our next goal is we want to advance further than we did last year," she said. "We went to the quarterfinals last year so we are trying to get a little further than that this year. But right now we are taking it one game at a time. We still have some goals we are trying to accomplish so we are all on the same page with that. They understand what is at stake."