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PLAS looks to take No. 2 Lee-Scott

The patriots of Pike Liberal Arts will have a chance to move to 3-0 in region play today when they take on the Lee-Scott Warriors in Auburn.

PLAS won its first two region games to set up this early season showdown, including a dramatic 36-35 overtime win over Fort Dale Tuesday.

“We feel like we can play with just about anybody now because we have a lot of confidence,” said senior guard Ross Hixon. “Fort Dale was a big win for us. Not many people thought we could win, but we just came up big.”

Hixon was clutch against Fort Dale, hitting two of three free throw attempts with no time left on the clock to give PLAS the win.

Head coach Mike Barbaree said the momentum has building for PLAS over the last few games.

“The kids played hard in a close loss against Crenshaw Christian Monday, and that really carried over into Tuesday against Fort Dale,” Barbaree said. “I just hope the momentum from the game against Fort Dale carries over into the game against Lee-Scott.”

The Patriots will need momentum on their side, as Lee-Scott enters the game 6-1 and ranked No. 2 in AISA.

“Lee-Scott is always a good team,” Barbaree said. “They’re well-coached, and very sound fundamentally. We’re going to have to beat a good basketball team.”

Lee-Scott is averaging 60 points per game thus far this season, while PLAS has held its opponents to just 42.5 points per contest.

Hixon said the Patriots must continue to play solid defense in order to have success.

“We’re just trying to keep doing what we’ve been doing and play hard,” Hixon said. “If we put it all on our defense and try to keep it a low-scoring game, we’ll be OK.”

The Patriots have struggled offensively so far this season, averaging just 38 points per game, something that could be attributed to the lack of practice time prior to the season’s start.

Fortunately for PLAS, it has had two days of practice to prepare for Lee-Scott.

“I hope it will be a tremendous help and give us even more confidence,” Barbaree said.

“Defensively, we’ve been playing great, but offense has been a bit of a struggle. All we worked on Wednesday was offense, and we brushed back over that Thursday, so hopefully that will pay off against Lee-Scott.”

Hixon said the extra practices have helped many of the players to get back into the flow of basketball.

“It’s helped us become more focused and get some of the fundamentals down that we weren’t able to at the beginning of the season because of our football team doing so well,” Hixon said. “But now we’re staring to get some more repetitions in and starting to get more and more practice time heading into big games like we have against Lee-Scott.”

Barbaree has used the extra practice time to devise some offensive strategies that are specifically designed to help the Patriots have success against the Warriors.

“Lee-Scott’s going to play a very aggressive man-to-man defense, and we’ve been working this week on putting some plays in to counter that,” Barbaree said.

The game will be the region opener for Lee-Scott, and a win could give the Patriots a two-game lead over the Warriors in the region standings.

“It would put us in the driver seat, no doubt,” Hixon said.

The varsity boys’ game between Lee-Scott and PLAS will be the last of four games today, with the first tipping off at 4 p.m. in Auburn.