Basketball in Lawrence County just means a little more and that was again on display Tuesday night as R.A. Hubbard picked up a season opening win at home against Hatton 60-45.
Just like most county games, emotions ran high and reached a boiling point towards the end as the Chiefs picked up the home win over their county rival.
But who would have it any other way as that county pride is what makes basketball in the county and the Lawrence County tournament such a thing to behold.
"I love playing the county teams, especially in a packed house," said Hubbard's Montoya Kellogg, who finished the game with a double double. "I've got a lot of friends at Hatton, so of course I had to give them all I had and show them who the top dog in the county is."
The two teams traded body blows for much of the first half , but Hubbard kept finding life at the end of quarters.
The Chiefs hit a 6-0 run at the end of the first to take a 17-14 lead and then a 9-0 run at the end of the second to take a 39-28 lead.
In the second half things were different as Hubbard was able to stifle the Hornets and pull away for the win.
"We were able to stop some of their drives that they were hurting us with in the first half. " said Hubbard head coach Sonny Conwill. "We didn't execute how I would like on offense in the second half, but we rebounded better and did a good job of not letting them get penetration inside."
Meanwhile, Hatton, who was strong in the first half shooting which included several three pointers, went cold near the end of the first half and then frozen in the second half.
The Hornets just couldn't buy a bucket as they were held to just 10 second half points until the final three minutes of the game.
"I talked about it with them after the game. I said 'guys there's not a shot clock in high school, but if there was we're probably shooting it five seconds into the shot clock," said Hatton head coach Tanner Tesney. "You look at anybody that plays and nobody is shooting it five seconds in. That's just something that comes with being early in the season and it's my job to get it corrected and we will."
Hubbard is the two time defending county champions, but they were breaking in four new starters.
Still, despite all the new faces, the Chiefs didn't make a lot of mistakes that could have costed them the game.
"They have really listened and had strong practices," Conwill said. "We've had a lot of distractions this year, but they have done a good job of staying focused and doing what we asked them to do. It wasn't pretty, but I thought they played as hard and as well as you can expect in the first game."
Montoya Kellogg led the Chiefs with 18 points and 12 rebounds. Ridge Harrison led Hatton with 14 points.
Hubbard will travel to Deshler Thursday, while Hatton will be at home vs. Falkville after a three game road stretch to open the season.