The Bulldogs are ready for a sectional battle

Published 10:11 pm Friday, March 4, 2016

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The Hampton Bulldogs and the Meigs County Tigers will be experiencing a little deja vu come Monday.

Like last season, the ’Dogs will host the Tigers for an East Sectional showdown inside Van Huss White Gym at 7 p.m. on Monday. It’s either win and go to the  State Championships or lose and stay home.

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And after back-to-back Regional beatdowns of their opponents, the Hampton Bulldogs are hungry to head back to the glasshouse in Murfeesboro for the third-straight year.

“That has been our goal all year,” Smith said. “We are just taking things one game at a time. We have put ourselves in a great situation.”

Monday night, there will be one thing in Hampton’s favor and that is the loud and rowdy Bulldogs fan base, who will more than likely fill Van Huss White Gym to the rim.

“Playing at home is a great thing,” Hampton head coach Ned Smith said. “It is a big advantage. I am expecting a big crowd and a great atmosphere Monday night.”

However, the Tigers that will be visiting the Doghouse on Monday are in no way kittens.

The squad from the Southeast region of Tennessee are a team that have won 31 games while only dropping five. Over the course of their 36 contests, the Tigers have averaged roughly 76 points a game and have scored in the 90s in roughly nine games. Much like the Bulldogs, the Meigs County Tigers use an up-tempo and high-pressure game to overwhelm their opponents. The center piece of their high intensity play is senior post Matthew Meadows. Meadows, who racked up 20 points during Meigs County’s Region 1-AA Championship loss to Grace Christian, is a dual threat. If he is not scoring under the rim, Meadows is firing off 3-pointers from the outside. The Tigers offense is under the control of junior point-guard Zy Moore, who posted 23 points against Grace Christian. Last year when the two teams met, the Bulldogs dispatched the Tigers 88-80 after an overtime thriller.

“They have had a great season,” Smith said about the Tigers. “They have some really good players. There will be two really good teams on the floor Monday night.”

The Bulldogs are a team full of momentum. Thursday night, Hampton picked up its 18th-straight win and it was an important one. The Bulldogs dispatch the Cosby Eagles 74-54 for the Region 1-A Title, making the army of Cosby fans, who are typically loud and rambunctious, as quite as a mouse. Leading Thursday’s assault was senior Coby Jones, who tallied 15 points for the Bulldogs. Jones, the Region 1-A Tournament MVP, has averaged roughly 13 points a game during the Region and District tournaments. Jones’ fellow senior Nathan Norris has also been a huge tournament threat. The District 1-A Tournament MVP, tallied 19 and 21 points during the Bulldogs District tourney games and over the course of the two tournaments has averaged 16 points a game.

However, it is not the Bulldogs two senior leaders that make the team such a dominate force. It is the team’s overall athleticism and depth on the bench. Using fast and unrelenting defense, the Bulldogs make it hard on their opponents to get into rhythm. Hampton’s junior class have been as instrumental as the two senior Bulldogs. Juniors Adam McClain, Chris Holtsclaw, Charlie Butler, Dakota Crumley, Wyatt Lyons and Jose Valezquez all have added the spice to the Bulldogs big season, and when the whole Dog pack cuts loose they are hard to stop.

Make sure to show up to Monday’s game early, because Van Huss White Gym is sure to be packed.