Hungry for the win

Published 7:14 pm Thursday, December 18, 2008

County rivals Florala and Red Level will tip off tonight in Red Level and both teams are hungry for the win.

Both teams are coming off Monday night losses, with the Wildcats (0-8) losing to Samson, 74-52, and the Tigers (8-4) losing to Greenville, 80-45.

Red Level coach Fred Kelley said concerns about the game from his standpoint lie in Florala’s recent ball play.

“The first thing I’m always concerned about is (Florala coach) Brad Garner’s team,” Kelley said. “He always has them well prepared. I know that they are hungry for a win and they seem like these last few ball games, as I have been keeping up with them, that they’ve been playing a lot better ball.

“He’ll have them ready and it’s always a big rivalry for us,” he said. “We both look forward to playing each other.”

Garner said he is counting on his team to execute well during the game.

“They’re very talented and very good,” Garner said. “We’re going to have to play very well to have a chance in their gym.”

Kelley said in order for his team to be successful, they have to play quality basketball.

“We’re going to have to execute, play good solid defense and limit our turnovers and play our tempo of game and not theirs,” Kelley said. “If they set the tempo of the game, they dictate the flow of the game and that can cause us some problems.

“There’s a lot of incentive for both teams to win this one Friday night coming into the Christmas tournament and the first of the year,” he said. “We know we’re going to have to be fundamentally sound in our execution and take advantage of every opportunity we get. The good thing is that I’m glad we’re home to maybe try to get a little momentum.”

Garner also said controlling the tempo of the game is crucial.

“We’ve got to control the pace of the ball game (in order to be successful),” Garner said. “We can’t get running up at the floor with them. We’ve got to defend well and get some shots to fall.”

Last year, according to Kelley, both teams split and the result of the game came down to two shots.

“It came down to the last shot at Red Level and we made one and they missed one,” Kelley said. “Of course, they went on representing the regional there. But, every year, it seems like it’s a quote ‘barnburner’ and you might say forget the records and everybody shows up to play.

“Fortunately we’ve had some good crowd support,” he said. “The thing about Florala is that they’re well disciplined and well coached. That’s always a challenge.”

Garner said he has had to “change” some things around on his team.

“We’ve made changes to a lot of things,” Garner said. “I’m not going to go in the gym and keep doing the same things and be successful, so we’re going to change things to find what works.”

Tip off is at 4:30 p.m. with the B-team boys.