The seeding for the Lawrence County tournament is set and for the second time in three years, the Lawrence County boys basketball team will be the top seed in the tournament.
The Red Devils went on the road Thursday night and defeated the R.A. Hubbard Chiefs 61-51 to secure the top spot.
"I guess it's good that we're the one seed since we're hosting," laughed Royal Carpenter, Lawrence County's co head coach.
The tournament will start next Thursday January 16 and go through Saturday January 18. The tournament returns to Lawrence County High School after a round trip to the other county schools. Lawrence County, the top seed, will take on East Lawrence on the first night. The two and three seeds, R.A. Hubbard and East Lawrence will play on Friday.
The game Thursday night was to decide who would get the top seed in the tournament after both teams had already defeated Hatton and East Lawrence.
Hubbard got out to a fast start, leading 15-14 after the first quarter and 28-22 at halftime.
"They were killing us with the high low move," said Lawrence County co head coach Gary Steadman. "When they'd go in the middle the backside forward would come up instead of staying down."
"It's tough playing here," Carpenter added. "They're aggressive. They're going to get after you."
Lawrence County rebounded with a strong third quarter to retake the lead 44-42 at the end.
By the end of the game the Red Devils had pulled away with a comfortable cushion.
"We started making shots when we had to have it," Carpenter said. "Good thing too because what we planned to do in the second half we never got going. I won't tell you what it was because we'll save it for someone else."
Tayi Strickland finished as the game's leading scorer. He led Lawrence County with 18 points. Tyrus Johnson finished with 16 for the Chiefs.
For R.A. Hubbard, the loss stings as they had control before it slipped away. Now they will be the No. 2 seed in the tournament and have to play Hatton team that's won seven of their last nine games.
"They give us trouble with that press. They made some good runs out of it and we got sloppy at times," said Hubbard head coach Sonny Conwill. "Late in the game we didn't do a good job of boxing out and letting them getting second and third shots. We played hard bit with 25 turnovers we just didn't do the things we needed to do to win."
This will be the third tournament since Carpenter and Steadman took over as co head coaches for Lawrence County. Their return to the tournament hasn't been smooth sailing as they lost in the finals two straight years.
"Gary (Steadman) has won it several times, but I've only won it once," Carpenter said. "I don't think anybody has finished runner up more than me though."
As for R.A. Hubbard, the fact that they're two time defending champs plays no factor for Conwill.
"I don't really think about it. We graduated a lot of guys last year so this is basically a new team," he said. "We can't let the past affect us. These guys have got to make their own path."