PLAS gets back to

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 31, 1999

work at Hooper on Monday


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The Pike Liberal Arts Patriots will return to action a little sooner than they thought come the new year, with both varsity teams squaring off against Region foe Hooper on Monday instead of Tuesday.

The game will be the third Region matchup for the two PLAS squads of the year with the boys coming in a perfect 2-0 and the girls 1-1 after their first Region victory in three years over this very Hooper team.

Pike Liberal head coach Jim Ryan’s two squads are pretty knowledgeable about their opponents from Hooper. This will be the third time the two squads have met, but only the second time it actually counts in Region play.

The Lady Patriots won the one that counted against Hooper, but lost 49-42 in overtime in tournament play. Both teams have proven themselves against each other, but Ryan knows his girls will have to bring their best game to have a chance Monday.

"It’s going to take our best effort," Ryan said of his girls’ team. "Hooper has one of the best players in the state in my opinion and it’s going to take a total-team effort for us to stop her and beat them. If we have an effort like we did Tuesday (against Dixie) defensively then we’ll be in the ball game. . We need to go for the sweep. It’s going to be tough to do playing over there, but hopefully we’ll be up for the challenge."

The start of the new year will mean a lot to this team of Lady Patriots. They will be knee deep in the Region schedule and the first couple of weeks will test if they have what it takes to measure up.

"It’s a big game, we’re 1-1 in the region and that’s acceptable at this point," Ryan said. "We’ve got to come back to practice on Sunday ready to play. We don’t have any time to waste. As soon as school starts on Monday we’re in the thick of the Region play and January is going to make us or break us."

On the boys’ side of things Ryan feels even though his team has already beaten Hooper twice they will have their work cut out for them on the third go around and a lot of that is due to their starting point guard returning.

"We’re expecting a much improved Hooper team," Ryan said. "They will be a lot better in the second half of the season. They’ve been struggling early, but now they have their point guard back. We defeated them twice without his services, but he’ll be back and that could make a big difference."

While Ryan expects Hooper to be an improved club Monday, the Patriots, once Ranked No. 7 in the state AISA polls, have been showing some question marks in some areas. After the loss to Crenshaw in the first round of the Patriots’ own Holiday tournament, Ryan was looking for answers.

"It’s frustrating because I know we’ve got talent," Ryan said. "My job as a coach is to put them in a position to win the ball game. If we don’t do that I feel like I haven’t done my job.

"We’ll have to play with intensity and emotion against everybody." he continued. "When we’re good, we’re good, when we’re bad, we’re bad. We’ve got to play hungry and play like you’ve got to play your best game to win. When they play with emotion and intensity, boys and girls, they are tough to beat and they can play with anybody."

Tipoff for the junior varsity games are set for 4 p.m. with varsity to follow.