Patriots hope to take down Edgewood

Published 10:18 pm Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Through the thick and thin of the season, the Pike Liberal Arts Patriots find themselves in an interesting situation.

Even though the team is currently five games under .500, that is not enough to shake its postseason dreams thanks to its record against teams in its area.

While the team may have lost to Hooper for the second time this season, the Patriots are 3-2 in the area, with both losses coming thanks to Hooper, who is No. 5 in the state in the latest AISA polls.

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That area record has PLAS locked into the second spot in the upcoming region tournament and in a good position, according to head coach William Johnson.

“We have been progressing just fine,” Johnson said.

“I think our kids have won some big games and lost some big games, but that’s part of it all. We are learning how to play hard and that’s something that we are trying to instill. It’s been a tough year, we don’t have the kind of record that I would have liked, but we have played an extremely tough schedule so far. I like where we are at this point.”

Even though the loss to Hooper Tuesday night ended any chance of the Patriots winning the area championship this season, there was still something to be learned by playing one of the top teams in the state.

“The biggest difference in (Tuesday night’s game) was we lost composure,” Johnson said, “and that is expected sometimes with younger players on the court and a big crowd. “We got out of what we were trying to do offensively with the basketball and started doing something that played into their hands. Hooper is a good basketball team and good teams will make you do that. We are learning to win big games and how to handle tough situations, road situations, and how to handle them, because in those situations, all we can control is us.”

To end the season, PLAS will play three games in as many nights, starting tonight, at home against Edgewood, another Top 10 team in the AISA.

Friday night the team will travel to Monroe Academy and look to sweep the Volunteers in the season series, followed by date with Crenshaw Christian Saturday at home.

While Edgewood may not be a area game, Johnson said he knows his team is in for a tough game.

“They are a Top 10 team, very strong and very good. They will present a big challenge for us. They have great guard play – they will be extremely tough for us to play (tonight).”

Tonight’s game will mark the eighth team the Patriots have played who are or were ranked in the AISA Top 10 at some point this season.

Crenshaw Christian will be the ninth team during the weekend’s matchup.

“We have played nearly every Top 10 team by the time the season is over with,” Johnson said. “So, I am not upset with where we are.

“It is what it is and we are not going to complain about it. We have played well at times, but we have been inconsistent at others and that has been our biggest problem this season. Inexperience will sometimes bring that on. Our guys are pretty resilient, we have had a tough season. But our kids have stayed positive and they know the goals that we have set. They are riding the ship and staying the course. I don’t see anyone holding their heads or anything like that. We are excited to be playing at home and we are looking for a good game. We have standards and they stay the same no matter who we are playing against – we expect to win.”