Surprising Bulldogs face top-ranked Lafayette

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 21, 2002

Sports Editor

They were the ones that were not supposed to be here.

"I think we’re in a place where a lot of people thought we wouldn’t be at the end of the year," said Pike County head coach Danny Suber about the Bulldogs’ upcoming Class 3A Southeast Regional game against top-ranked Lafayette (21-4).

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The game starts at 1:30 p.m. in Trojan Arena today.

The Bulldogs (12-12) are making their first appearance in the regional tournament since 1999. That game also featured a Pike County-Lafayette match-up with the latter coming out on top big, 73-51, over the Bulldogs from Brundidge.

"It’s funny, but this is always the team we end up playing," said Suber. "We’re excited about being in the region tournament, but for them it’s kind of expected. Traditionally, they’re a basketball school. They definitely have a good team this year also."

But the Bulldogs are no strangers to quality competition. Pike County beat Elba and No. 2 Calhoun in the area tournament, advancing to sub-regional play where they downed Catholic by 40 points. They also upset two of 2A’s best in Goshen and Barbour County along the way.

"I think one of the reasons we got better was the the strength of our schedule. We had to get better," said Suber. "This is a special group of guys and it’s been fun to watch this team go from average to being a good and well-respected basketball team."

With a squad as young as Pike County has (just two seniors), most would have expected this team to fold in the latter stages of the season.

But the Bulldogs didn’t.

In fact, they got better.

Pike County opened the year with a 4-8 record, but ended the season on an 8-4 run in the win-loss column.

"Our confidence has got better," said Suber. "You can tell that, even in practice. Our intensity is up. I told the guys that we can’t use youth as our excuse anymore. We’ve got 24 games under our belt. We’re not young anymore. At this point, for them to have a chance, they know they’re going to have to work hard, regardless of who they’re playing."

And Suber knows Lafayette head coach John Woody will approach today’s game without the slightest bit of over confidence.

"He’s not going to let them take this game for granted," said Suber. "He knows he’s going to have to work to beat us. It’s going to be a challenge, but I think we can beat them also."