Red Level to play ‘huge’ area game tonight at home

Published 11:39 pm Thursday, January 15, 2009

Red Level will be vying for home court advantage in area play as they continue their run tonight against Excel at home.

The Tigers are coming off of a big, 70-64 win over Flomaton Tuesday night and on Jan. 6, Red Level won over Excel, 80-70.

Red Level coach Fred Kelley said this game is essential because a win will increase his team’s chance at having home court advantage in an area tournament.

“I tell you what, this is a huge one for us,” Kelley said. “We’ve got a chance to maybe take care of home court advantage and get our fourth area win and that will put us in the driver’s seat of determining our own destiny.

“It was a big win against Flomaton, which means we’ve beaten each of the area teams one time. The last two of the three area games are at home.”

Kelley said the recent wins have created a more focused Tigers (15-6, 3-0 in Class 2A, Area 1) basketball team.

“It’s caused us to refocus and realize how important it is to try to have that (area) tournament at home,” he said. “Excel played us extremely well down there and I look for them to play well against us. I know in the latest polls we were fortunate to be in there. “So, that’s another target on us and that’s something that we are going to have to realize every time somebody that comes to play us will be ready to play us and we’re going to have to be ready to play them as well.”

To get ready for the game tonight, Kelley said he has had to change things on the defensive side of the ball.

“We had a hard time matching up the kid they have inside,” Kelley said. “He really hurt us and we had to change up to provide a little more help against him. They penetrated inside and hurt us and then they were hitting on the outside.

“So, we changed some things on defense again to try to match up with what they do well,” he said.

Kelley said he will be relying on his seniors to have a good game tonight.

“All year long our seniors have stepped up,” he said. “Cale Nolen, D.J. Sankey, Luke Sharpe and Matthew Bond. Those four are our seniors and you know Kyle Nolen, he’s injured. Those have got to step up every night and play hard. Desmond Jones, a junior, has given a big boost because of his intensity every time.”

Kelley added there can not be a “bad game” in area play in order for his team to host the area tournament.

“You can’t have a bad game this time of the year if you want to host a tournament,” Kelley said. “We can make no excuses and we’ve got to go out there and do what we’ve done for 21 ball games, but do it right. We realize the importance of this and everybody realizes that it’s an advantage to host an area tournament. That’s our goal and we’ve got to get to 6-0 somehow. We may not do it but that’s our goal to host a tournament.”

Kelley added he hopes fans will come out and support the team tonight.

“It’s a huge game and it’s a great opportunity for us and our fans,” Kelley said. “I’m looking forward to having a house full here Friday night.”

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