KINGSTON — The Kingston High School basketball teams are in different positions entering Thursday’s Class 3A Regional Tournament, but both coaches are optimistic about their chances.
The squads will host the tournament for the first time in many years, due in no small part to the fact that they now play in the expansive Kingston Multipurpose Activity Center.
The Lady Redskins will face Valliant in an elimination game at 1:30 p.m. The Redskins play Hugo at 8 p.m.
The boys match will be a clash of state-ranked teams, with the Buffaloes ranked at 11, and the Redskins at 16. Head coach Taylor Wiebener said the game has the makings of a competitive, close contest.
“They’re athletic and they crash the boards,” Wiebener said of the Buffaloes. “I think rebounding is going to be a big key.”
Kingston and Hugo are both district champions, meaning neither has a loss in the double-elimination format. If the Redskins win, they will get Friday off, and play Saturday for the regional title. A win would also secure them a berth in next weekend’s area tournament. With a loss, the ‘Skins would play elimination games Friday and Saturday.
The Redskins enter regional play as district champions, after topping Marietta 50-48 in a squeaker last week in the KMAC. Wiebener said he was by no means surprised the Indians made it such a close contest against the favored Redskins.
“We knew it would be tough,” Wiebener said. “The first time we played them, they hit 10 three-pointers on us. They are one of those teams that are better than their record shows.”
The Redskins are led by top scorers Noah Hodges and Mason Whipkey. Wiebener said Whipkey and Dylan Mathews have been the team’s leading rebounders, with Paden Hayes leading the way in steals and assists.
Cole Nance, a key contributor before suffering an injury, is practicing full speed and is expected to play against Hugo.
The girls game may also be a close contest, as it features two teams with similar records. Coach Chad Rumer said he feels good about the Lady Redskins’ chances, if they accomplish their game objectives.
“We need to pressure the ball and try to force turnovers, and we need to be good in transition,” Rumer said. “If we do those things, I think it’s a winnable game for us.”
The Lady Bulldogs will play a lot of zone defense, and they will favor the halfcourt game on offense. Rumer expects their point guard to try to penetrate and their center to work down low. The Lady ‘Skins will look to counter with good defense, both in the post and on the perimeter.
The Lady Redskins are led by top scorers Katie Caraway and Raegan Wigley, with Lauren Bryce contributing down low.