January 21, 2010 7:08:00 AM
The Sulligent High School girls basketball team expects to be well rested when it plays host to the Lamar County Tournament.
Sulligent hasn''t played since Friday and doesn''t take the court again until it plays in the championship game of the tournament Saturday.
The Lady Blue Devils (17-2) earned a first-round bye as a result of having the best record of the three county teams. It will play the winner of the Lamar County-South Lamar in the championship game at 6 p.m. Saturday.
"It''s a good thing and a bad thing," Sulligent coach Ronnie Hubbert said. "The part I don''t like about it is this counts as one of our tournaments and we only get three. We only get one game out of it by getting the bye. I''d like to see us do a round-robin tournament or something like that (to get more games).
"On the good side, that means we had the top record of the three teams. That means we''re at least having a decent season."
The tournament tips off tonight with Lamar County and South Lamar meeting in a girls game at 6. Sulligent will face South Lamar in the boys game at 7:30.
Lamar County earned the byes in the boys bracket and plays the winner of the Sulligent-South Lamar game at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. The Bulldogs won''t have as long a layoff between games as the Lady Blue Devils. The defeated Winston County on Tuesday.
The Sulligent girls enter the tournament on a seven-game winning streak. They hasn''t lost to either of the teams they could play in the championship game. The Lady Blue Devils have beaten South Lamar three times and Lamar County twice.
"We know both of them and they''re both big rivals," Hubbert said. "We''re pretty confident in our ability, but we''re not overconfident. We feel if we play like we''re capable and we play Sulligent basketball, we''re going to win."
The Lady Blue Devils haven''t lost since Dec. 1 to Winfield, which they''ve lost to twice this season.
"If you come watch us play, we just play so hard," Hubbert said. "They''ve bought into the system. We play 15 players and we run them in and out and wear the other teams down. We really get after it. Everybody who sees us play talks about how hard we play. We''re not world-beaters athletic wise, but we play so hard."
The tournament will be a homecoming for Lamar County girls coach Jason Clark, who is a 1996 graduate of Sulligent High.
When Clark was in school, the Lady Blue Devils were the state runners-up in 1996 and state champions in 1996.
Clark couldn''t think of anything better than to beat his alma mater in the championship game.
"I''m excited about it," Clark said. "You see a lot of people you know and a lot of people you went to school with. I just enjoy the competitive nature of it. It''s a special time when you go back to your home school and get to play there again."
Lamar County suffered a 48-41 loss to Sulligent on Friday, but had a 17-5 lead in the second quarter.
In the opening round, Lamar County (8-7) will attempt to beat South Lamar for the third time this season.
"They basically had their way with us both ballgames," South Lamar coach Josh Harper said. "They''re big and physical. That''s where we''re lacking."
South Lamar (2-12) enters tournament looking for something positive to build.
The Lamar County boys have compiled the best record of the three county teams to earn the bye.
Lamar County (8-3) won the only game it has played against South Lamar this season, while it seeks revenge against Sulligent, which it has lost to twice in three meetings.
"It''s a tribute to (the players)," Lamar County coach Vance Herron said of getting the bye. "They play hard. They''ve lost three games and two of those games were by two points. They go and play hard. They''re an exciting group and they work hard."
The Sulligent-South Lamar matchup in the opening round of the boys bracket will be the third meeting between the teams this season. The Blue Devils won the first two.
A central figure in the game will be South Lamar senior DeShawn Davis, who is averaging 24 points per game.
"They''ve got a great player (in Davis)," Sulligent coach Tommy Chism said. "He gets off the bus and he''s in range. You have to get on him before he gets off the bus. The first thing you have to try to do when you play them is stop him."
If Sulligent (15-7) gets to the championship game it will attempt to keep the upper hand against Lamar County.
South Lamar (3-13) has the task of trying to counter Sulligent''s inside play with 6-foot-4 Dakota Carruth and 6-3 Tony Johnson.
"Their size hurts us because we''re not that tall," South Lamar coach Tony Seals said. "They''re so solid with their first five and even two or three off the bench. Their depth is pretty good. They''re very physical inside. They post up well.
"They''re just so dominant inside. They just pushed us around (in the previous two meetings).
Elsewhere, the Pickens County Tournament was scheduled for this past week, but the championships games were postponed until Saturday.
It will be Pickens County against Gordo in the girls and boys championship games at Gordo. The girls are scheduled to tip off at 2 p.m. with the boys to follow at 3:30 p.m.
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