By Jonathan Deal
East Limestone’s boys basketball team has a new outlook this January. As area play winds down, the Indians are in an unfamiliar position. A win next week against Cullman would clinch first place in Class 5A Area 15 and allow East Limestone to host the boys area basketball tournament.
“When we first started the season that was our number 1 goal,” Drake said about hosting the area tournament. “Our ultimate goal was to make the state championship. But a more realistic goal was to host the area tournament.”
East Limestone has a 4-1 area record this season with one game remaining against Cullman. If the Indians can clinch first place in Area 15, it would be their first time to host an area tournament in “at least 10 years” according to Drake.
While East Limestone is improved, the opportunity to host the area tournament has a lot to do with a much favorable area. Previously, East was pitted against Huntsville teams such as Butler, Lee and Columbia that are consistently ranked in the top 10 in the state.
“It’s a lot different compared to what we’ve been playing in,” Drake said about this year’s area. “There are still some good athletes. Everybody is big, but we’ve played great defense. Playing pressure defense and pushing the ball up the floor has really helped us.”
That press defense was on display Tuesday night in a lopsided home-win against Ardmore. Ardmore kept things respectable in the first half, trailing by just 12 points at the break.
East Limestone put away any hopes of a comeback with a 16-0 run to begin the third quarter. The fast start to the third quarter allowed East to cruise the rest of the game for a 75-45 win.
“We couldn’t put the ball in the hole first half,” Drake said. “We found a way to pick it up on defense in the second half and it paid off. Good defense leads to easy offense.”
Blake Tucker led East Limestone with 16 points. Jordan Gandy scored 12 and Witt Black added 10. Myles Noblitt was Ardmore’s leading scorer with 14.
In addition to the Cullman game Friday, Jan. 18, East will play rival Tanner twice in a week, beginning tonight at Tanner. The return fixture will be at East Limestone, Jan. 17.
“We got a big game Thursday,” Drake said. “Any time you play Tanner or Athens, the guys are really excited. Those are two big rivals.”
East Limestone 58
East Limestone’s had no trouble with cross-county foe Ardmore Tuesday in a 58-38 win. Brennan Crabtree scored 19 points and Rachel Diamond added 18 points for East.
The win improves East Limestone’s record to 17-5 for the season. The Lady Indians are 2-3 in area play and will need a win against Cullman next week to have a chance at hosting the area tournament.