D200117 lawrence tournament

East Lawrence's Coleman Garner (4) drives between Lawrence County's Tayi Strickland (2) and Garrett Lee during the 2020 Lawrence County tournament. [JERONIMO NISA/DECATUR DAILY]

The Lawrence County tournament kicked off this past weekend with the varsity girls action. 

Top seeded Hatton defeated East Lawrence and Lawrence County topped R.A. Hubbard to set up a rematch of last year’s county finals. That game will take place Friday at 6 pm. 

Now it’s the boys turn. 

The varsity boys’ action will take place this Thursday at East Lawrence High School. Hatton will play East Lawrence at 5 p.m., and Lawrence County will take on R.A. Hubbard at 8 p.m. 

The winners of those games will face off in the county championship on Saturday at 6 p.m. 

This year’s tournament will feature three new head coaches, Hubbard’s Bobby Winston, East Lawrence’s Baine Garner and Hatton’s Justin Henley. However, two of them have plenty of experience. Garner was the Eagles’ coach from 2000-06, while Henley was an All-State player at Hatton. 

The only returning boys coach this year are co-head coaches Gary Steadman and Royal Carpenter of the Lawrence County Red Devils, last year’s county champions.

In what is shaping up to be the toughest boys tournament top to bottom in recent years, here is where each team stand going into the tournament. Please note, team’s record was at time of publication.

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R.A. Hubbard Chiefs 

Head coach: Bobby Winston 

Seed: 4

Record: 5-6

This season’s county results:  Split with East Lawrence, lost to Lawrence County and Hatton 

2020 tournament results: Lost to Lawrence County in the finals 

Player to watch: Keyondrick Cobb

Preview: After starting the season 1-4, the Chiefs are picking up steam at the right time under first year head coach Bobby Winston. 

The Chiefs lost to East Lawrence on a buzzer beater and to Lawrence County in overtime early in the season. However, that was without their best player Keyondrick Cobb. 

With Cobb back, Hubbard lost to Hatton by just a point and defeated East Lawrence. 

Despite being the four seed, the Chiefs will be a tough out. 

East Lawrence Eagles 

Head coach: Baine Garner

Seed: 3

Record: 5-12

This season’s county results: Split with R.A. Hubbard, lost to Lawrence County and Hatton twice. 

2020 tournament results: Lost to Lawrence County in the semi-finals

Player to watch Peyton Kelly 

Preview: Though the record doesn’t exactly show it, the Eagles have made vast improvements under Garner. 

East Lawrence will be the host school, which bodes well for them as they have played better at home than on the road. 

The Eagles haven’t made the county finals since 2017, the last time the tournament was held at East Lawrence.  

Hatton Hornets 

Head coach: Justin Henley 

Seed: 2

Record: 10-4

This season’s county results: Defeated East Lawrence, twice, and R.A. Hubbard. Lost to Lawrence County twice. 

2020 tournament results: Lost to R.A. Hubbard in semi-finals

Player to watch: Ridge Harrison 

Preview: It’s been 44 years since Hatton won a Lawrence County championship, but that could all change this year. 

The Hornets are the most experienced team in the county and have arguably the best boy’s player in the county in Harrison. 

They’re also the hottest team coming in, having won seven of their last eight, including five in a row. That was good enough to land them at No. 7 in last week’s ASWA basketball poll. Their first top 10 ranking since 2009. 

Lawrence County Red Devils 

Head coach: Gary Steadman and Royal Carpenter 

Seed: 1

Record 9-6

This season’s county results: Defeated East Lawrence, twice, Hatton twice and R.A. Hubbard

2020 tournament results: County champions

Player to watch: BenMichael Bennett

Preview: The Lawrence County Red Devils are the defending county champions and the top seed in the county tournament for the third time since Steadman and Carpenter took over prior to the 2017-18 season.

After three straight years facing R.A. Hubbard in the county finals, they will now face the Chiefs in the semi-finals. 

Despite a few close calls, the Red Devils are undefeated in county play this season.

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