Headed to Hanceville
No. 2 Russellville faces No. 5 Wenonah
Russellville coach Michael Smith needs only one word to describe No. 5 Wenonah (28-6), the Golden Tigers' opponent today in the Northwest Regional tournament at Wallace State in Hanceville.
"Wenonah is a very athletic team," said Smith, who has guided No. 2 Russellville to a 29-0 season, which is a school record. "They're a combination of five or six teams we've faced this season – they have the inside presence of Deshler and athletic guards like the Piinson Valley guard we faced during the WQSB tournament."
Russellville will utilizes a six-man rotation that features starters Siran Winston (point guard), Jordan Hammond (wing) and Cory Trapp (shooting guard) in the backcourt and Jermaine Bates and Terence Smith in the post, plus center Nate Dunstan off the bench.
The Golden Tigers also have Yovanni Ramirez, Micah McCulloch, Mark Davis, Chase Johnson, Tucker Hammock and Mason Willis at their disposal.
"Right now we have a six-person rotation we're very comfortable with, and the seventh and eighth player will depend on the tempo of the game," Smith said.
"The competition is getting tougher now. The things we do well, we just need to capitalize on that," said Smith, who led the Eufaula girls to 5A state championships in 1994 and 1997. "We both have good offenses, so it's going to come down to who plays better defense and gets pressure with thet press. We have to do a better job of blocking out and play better transition defense."
Smith said his team is focusing on today's game and isn't looking ahead to a possible rematch with Muscle Shoals in the regional finals or the school's first trip to the Final Four since 2002.
"The regional tournament is not that much different from the other tournaments we've played in this year. There are just more expectations now but we have to treat this game like any other ball game. When it's all said and done, we'll look back but right now we're just focusing on one game at a time.
"There are only 16 teams left playing (in 5A), and it's a challenge for us. We're ready and excited to be playing in this tournament."
Russellville will play Wenonah today at 1:30 p.m. The winner will advance to the regional finals Saturday at 10:40 a.m. The regional winner will play Wednesday in the Final Four in Birmingham.