It truly will be a game of stinging proportions as Miller Grove Hornets (21-13) prepare to content with the defending state champion Laneville Yellowjackets (27-4) for the Class 1A Division II Regional Quarterfinal basketball title tonight at Lindale High School.
The buzz around Miller Grove is that Hornet head basketball coach Gary Billingsley is confident that the schedule they have played this season has sufficiently prepared his team for this point in the playoffs.
“I tried to play better teams this year to prepare us for this point in the season. I think it has given the kids confidence because they have had success against good teams,” he said. “Our success over the past four years has been to the hard work that the kids put in. We focus on fundamentals and hard work.” The contest is scheduled for 7 p.m. tonight due to TAKS testing. This is the first time these two stingers have met on the court. “Laneville is very good. They are extremely athletic and like to push the basketball any chance they get,” Billingsley said about their opponent. “I expect this game to be a very good one. We need to take care of the basketball and make sure we block out.”
With his many years of success, Billingsley brings a winning philosophy with him. “A smart man once told me that ‘Good things happen to those who deserve them,’ and if you work hard and do things the right way that will usually include you,” he said. “Our kids are enjoying the success and want more.”
In 2006-07, Laneville was edged out by Nazareth for the big prize. Last year, Miller Grove was defeated in the area round by Avinger. Avinger was defeated in the regional quarterfinal by Laneville as they took the whole title.
This year, Miller Grove has laid it on the line with a 42-37 win over Karnack for the area crown. “I was happy with the way we finished the game against Karnack. We still started the game nervous and can’t have a repeat of that if we want to advance to the regional tournament,” coach added.
The winner on the court tonight will advance to challenge the winner of the Saint Jo/Irving’s Universal Academy game at Stephen F. Austin State University Coliseum at 6 p.m. on Friday.
“The best thing about our team is that we need everyone to be successful. Every player has a role, and when they all play their role we are pretty good,” Billingsley said. “I believe that makes the success so much more rewarding for the team.”
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