As we dive headfirst into division play, both the Lady Red Hawks and the Red Hawks look poised to make deep runs.
Both teams have now seen a lot of size and athleticism outside the division to help prepare them for the remainder of the regular season and on into postseason play.
Whether it is the boys having to play Beech, Rossview, PJPII, and Galltin; or the girls facing Clarksville Academy, Green Hill, and Lakeview Christian, both these teams are set up for success not backing down from anyone.
All that being said, this is an interesting year.
Unlike in past years this year district record will carry more weight than ever.
The reason being is that due to Covid, many schools have not been able to play the same number of games as others, but all schools should theoretically be able to get in a full district schedule.
We wouldn’t be having a season at all if they couldn’t.
Therefore, both Coach Taylor and Coach Wilson, understanding that their district record is what will matter, have taken the stance that they will play anyone, anytime, anywhere.
What that has allowed them to gain is a very large advantage over other teams.
Win or lose, this season it may come down to simply who has gotten to play the most games.
That is because the more you play, again win or lose, the more practice and preparation you are getting. The more chemistry you build.
In a year when you did not get summer workouts, fall practices, or anything else, just playing games will become an advantage.
There are several examples this season where the Red Hawks and the Lady Red Hawks found a way to view over what was, on paper, superior competition simply because they had games under their belt when others did not.
The Red Hawks victory over Loretto or the Lady Red Hawks victory over Green Hill, either can stand as a shining example of a victory that came from having more experience being on the court as a unit.
These teams share many other similarities as well, good and bad, one of which is the versatility of their players.
On any given night, for either squad, someone can be the leading scorer or catalyst for victory.
On the Lady Red Hawks side, it can obviously be Allie Burgess with her ability to distribute or score, however, we have also seen it come from Brianna Burgess shot-making ability inside and outside the 3-point arc, Raegan Taylor creating 2nd and 3rd chance points with her ability to rebound against bigger competition, and even Laura Nichols who really is capable of being whatever you need her to be whether it is a shot-maker, a lockdown turnover causing defender, or an aggressive rebounder.
The Lady Red Hawks only flaw is not even their fault, it is just a fact of life. They do not have a tall or strong big like many opponents they have faced.
The Red Hawks struggle in similar ways lacking real size or elite athleticism.
Yet much like their females counter parts, they win, and they do it with many different people stepping up.
Whether it is Kaden Austin or Cole Adams shooting the lights out from 3, Braden Dawson creating 2nd and 3rd chance opportunities, Raekwonn Nesbit forcing turnovers for easy buckets, Jace Harrell drawing fouls and getting to the line, or Rex Edmondson dominating down low when they aren’t at a size disadvantage, this team has an ability to win in many different ways just like the girls team.
Both teams also have something you can’t coach, or recruit, or force; they have spirit.
What I mean is, they never believe or act like they are out of a game.
The weather other teams runs and go on runs of their own, they get knocked down and get back up with an energy to fight back twice as hard.
That, plus the experience they have against superior competition on paper, give both the Red Hawks and the Lady Red Hawks a fighting chance going into any game.
The road is not going to get any easier as this week will keep the teams on the road at Fairview Tuesday and at Lewis County Friday.
If I was a betting man though, I would say bet on both squads coming out 2-0 though, because no one plays as hard as these two teams.