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Playing their best game

Andalusia coach Richard Robertson said his team will have to play their best game to win against UMS-Wright in the Class 4A South Sub-Regional tournament.

“We’re going in it to win,” Robertson said. “We’re not going to give up.”

On Monday night, Andalusia (23-5) lost to Thomasville 36-34 in the Class 4A, Area 3 championship game, which forced a road game in the sub-regional tournament.

In the area championship game, Andalusia was 0-of-16 from the free throw line.

To make his team realize that free throws are important, Robertson had his team shoot and make 60 free throws on Wednesday and 70 on Thursday.

“We’re working on them, but we just didn’t make them in the game (Monday night),” Robertson said. “Once you get in the game, it becomes psychological.”

Robertson said the keys in the sub-regional tournament will be to play good defense and execution.

“We’ve got to play good defense,” he said. “I would like for us to execute a lot better, and that’s what I’m disappointed in. I feel like if you can execute our game plan, then you can win.”

Andalusia will be facing what Robertson calls a “dribble-drive” offense in UMS-Wright in the tournament.

UMS-Wright is 25-7 overall and just capped off a successful run at the Class 4A, Area 1 tournament, winning against W.S. Neal 63-45 in the first round, and 58-47 over Jackson in the championship game.

UMS-Wright coach Anthony Clark said his players are “excited” about the chance to play in the sub-regional tournament.

“It’s a huge accomplishment for our players,” Clark said. “I don’t think our guys are ready to turn it in. We’re just excited about the opportunity.”

Clark said it will be a challenge to match up with Andalusia’s inside game.

“Our post players have improved as the year has gone on,” he said. “I think they’ll respond to the challenge. Coach Robertson has always had a couple of big guys that finish well and score around the basket. It’s just a matter of us executing our plan.”

On Monday night when Clark found out who his team will be playing in the sub-regional tournament, he said simply that he was excited about the opportunity to play Andalusia again.

“It’s another game for our kids,” he said. “I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t excited about playing Andalusia. I think for me personally, it’s good to try to play against teams that are well coached. It’s going to be UMS­­ players playing against Andalusia players.”

After this week is over, either Andalusia or UMS-Wright will advance to the Class 4A South Regional tournament in Mobile.

Robertson said he would like to be one of the 96 schools still in the playoffs next week.

“We’re still proud to be still playing,” he said.

Andalusia senior O’Brien Curry said at this point, the team is focused on the task that awaits them this week.

He said that Robertson has continually stressed “hard work, dedication and defense” all this week leading up to the game.

“That’s what it all comes down to,” Curry said.

Curry said a season goal for the team is to make it to the state tournament in Birmingham.

“Our goal is to make it back to Birmingham and really to win the whole thing,” he said. “Last year, we made it up there and got beat by eight points. We’re trying to overcome the eight points and beat the opposing team by eight points.”

Being a senior, Curry said he hopes to get all of the players back on the same page.

“At the start of the season, everybody as a group was on the same page, but as the season got down to the boiling point, everybody did their own thing,” he said. “We really just got big-headed about it.

“But, right now we’re focused,” he said. “We’re trying to get coach Robertson back to Birmingham and are trying to get him a ring like he’s always wanted. It’s not about one individual, it’s about oneness.”