An early test

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 25, 2009

Andalusia boys basketball coach Richard Robertson said tomorrow’s opening game at the 27th annual Dothan Eagle/Dothan Progress Holiday Prep Classic in Ozark will be an early test for the Bulldogs.

Andalusia drew defending Class 2A state champion Barbour County in their opening game that starts at 2 p.m.

This is Andalusia’s 13th appearance at the tournament. The Bulldogs have been runner-up four times (1995, 1996, 1998 and 2006).

Last year, Andalusia lost to Eufaula 70-64 in the opening round. Eufaula went on to play in the tournament championship game, losing to Barbour County.

“They have a good team and have a lot of size,” Andalusia coach Richard Robertson said about Barbour County. “Right now, they’re 6-3 and they are playing against adversity. They haven’t played at home yet.

“The people they have lost to are in their class or above,” he said. “It’s the product of a good, small team. Losing to a team that is a class above you, makes for a good team.”

Robertson said the tournament will provide a good “test” for his Bulldogs.

“This is going to be our test of playing with pressure on us,” he said. “This is our tune-up in showing us how we need to play under pressure. Now, the schedule is very, very tough. Our preseason is over.”

The Classic will feature 16 teams, including three from out of state — Whitefield Academy (Ga.), Randolph-Clay (Ga.) and Pensacola (Fla.). The tournament will be played in a single-elimination format.

“You’ve got to make it to the final four,” Robertson said. “We’ve got a 16-team field and you’re playing for the final four. The final four plays the last two days. Our goal right now is to play the entire tournament because we’re hoping to get better playing in tough competition.”

Will that be possible for the Bulldogs?

“It could happen if we can play well,” Robertson said. “The last two years, we haven’t played well at this tournament. Three years ago we played for the championship and got beat by Enterprise.”

Robertson said the key to success at the tournament is to play well.

“We’re going to use this as a measuring stick to show us where we really are,” he said. “Everybody over there is going to be tough. We’ve made some big mistakes and got away with some things in tournament play. If you don’t overcome it, then you’re going to be in trouble.”