Tigers control destiny, face BT Washington

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 19, 2005

Despite a loss in the finals of the area tournament to Charles Henderson, life still goes on for the Greenville High School Tigers – until Friday night.

Greenville has the distinct ability to end or extend their season Friday night when they travel to Tuskeegee and face Booker T. Washington.

Booker T. is the defending Area 4 champions after beating tournament host, Benjamin Russell High School in Alexander City.

That win secured them home-court for the sub-regional playoff. The winner of Friday's game will advance to the regional tournament held at Troy University and will face the winner of Chilton County and Talladega on Feb. 22 with a tip set for 10:30.

The winner of Benjamin Russell v. Charles Henderson will match-up with the winner of Briarwood Christian v. Shelby County to make up the other bracket pairing for the Troy Regional and will tip at 1:30.

As for the Tigers and the Eagles, Friday's game will be the first meeting between the two teams this season.

In the final polls released before the area tournaments, Booker T. was ranked No. 8 in 5A with an 18-5 record. That record is now 20-5 as they are officially 2-0 in the postseason with wins over Russell County in the first round of the area tournament and then with the area title win over Benjamin Russell.

Despite all of that, Greenville basketball coach Randy Fullington sees the Booker T. Eagles as a very beatable opponent.

"Watching them on film they are a very athletic team," said Fullington. "Everybody on the floor can shoot the ball really well which poses a match-up challenge for us. Even their big me can shoot. They have a 6'7" guy that can step out and shoot the three if needed. They rebound the ball well. We've got to concentrate on keeping them off the offensive glass. They've only lost five games so they must doing something right. They are a very beatable team and they have some key weaknesses that we are going to try to exploit."

Despite that, Fullington sees that his group of Tigers could have a size advantage.

"We are bigger than they are all over the floor, on the perimeter as well as on the inside and we are going to try to take advantage of that," said Fullington. "They try to run, but they are not very good at it. They run a half-court man to man defense, which is not a good defense. They are decent at it, but not great. They also run a 2-3 zone and really try to pack it inside and take away the inside game and give it up on the perimeter but they are very vulnerable to cutters so we are going to try to use that on them."

This is the match-up that the Tigers wanted. They only envisioned it as being the other way around, the Eagles coming to Greenville. But, thanks to a three point loss to the Trojans of Charles Henderson, the Tigers are making the road trip to Tuskeegee.

"The guys were real down following Monday's game," said Fullington. "But that's a game we felt like we should have won. We lost it from the free throw line. We shot 4-12 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter and lost by three. It may be a blessing in disguise that we ended playing the team that we wanted to play in Booker T. We felt like we were going to beat Charles Henderson and then Benjamin Russell would win out of those two. Which was the match-up that I wanted it's just at their place."

In the Area Championship game, the Trojans battled back and thanks to being the better free throw shooting team, they were able to capture and surpass their opponents lead.

Demonte King was sent to the line for a pair after being fouled by McMeans. King sank both and put the visitors from Troy up, 58-57. That one point quickly turned to three and the Tigers were never able to recapture the lead despite several attempts.

With time ticking down, the Tigers had one final shot to win the game, but Rashad Knight was fouled on the three-point try and the buzzer sounded giving the Trojans the victory.