Games of the week

Anderson County and Clinton both face strong opponents this week as Anderson County travels to Central before hosting Oak Ridge. Clinton hosts Karns before traveling to Campbell County.

Anderson County faces two strong opponents this week after the Mavericks’ roller coaster of a week last week. Oak Ridge and Central will test the Mavericks’ ability to punch above their weight class as they face off against opponents they have historically struggled against.

The Mavericks lost both games against Central last season, as well as their match-up earlier this season where they hosted Central. That being said, their game earlier this season was only lost by a single basket. They won’t have the home advantage this time around, but they’re a much more experienced team. Ultimately it will come down to whether they’ve progressed faster than Central, and AC is carrying some momentum into their game after an overtime win against Powell. That game was to be at Central on Jan. 21.

After the game against Central, Anderson County will host Oak Ridge for a rematch on Jan. 24. This comes after their disastrous defeat earlier this month in which Oak Ridge dominated the game, resulting in a crushing 34-81 loss. This time the game will be at Anderson County, giving the Mavericks home-court advantage, but whether it will be enough, especially after a stretch of such strong opponents, is difficult to say. Undoubtedly if the Mavericks can win their game against Central, it would give them a strong confidence boost, but even that may not be enough the Mavericks to repeat last year’s win over the Wildcats.

Coach Derek Wallace of the Mavericks said he’s excited about the game.

“I feel great about [it] really,” he said. “We had a shot to win when we hosted Central, and some guys really came forward this week. JaTrevor Stagnolia and Eli Varner both had amazing games on Friday, and I think we’ve got a good chance against Central.

“The kids believe they can win. We’ve competed against every team but Clinton and Oak Ridge.”

When looking to the game against Oak Ridge, Wallace was more hesitant.

“When we went against Oak Ridge, we had a game plan, and that game plan worked,” he said. “We just couldn’t make our shots. They didn’t do anything really new to us, they just sped us up and made us take our shots faster and take our shots from places we wouldn’t have normally. I mean, you get a shot against Oak Ridge and you take it.”

Meanwhile, Clinton hosts Karns for a rematch of its own. The last time Clinton and Karns met, the game was neck and neck the entire time, going into overtime before Clinton finally managed to cinch the victory. This time, the game happens at Clinton after both teams have matured greatly. With how close both teams were last game, it will be interesting to see whether Clinton has widened its lead over the Beavers or whether Karns has closed the gap.

Head Coach Chris Lockard admits that Karns is always challenging.

“If you don’t play at your highest level against [Karns], you’re in for a long night,” he said. “I feel like they’re as good as, if not better, than Oak Ridge.”

After that game, Clinton travels to Campbell County. The two teams last met on Clinton’s court in a game that ended with a strong 62-44 Clinton victory, but that game was close for the entire first half, and Campbell County will undoubtedly be much more prepared this time around.

“They have two strong sophomores,” said Lockard. “And the rest of their team has drastically improved. They shoot well enough to beat anyone, and they’re a young team. Young teams are scary because they just aren’t afraid of anything.

“These next three district games for us are strong games and important to make sure we keep our rank. This time of the year, we’re facing off against strong teams, and we’re going to be tested these next few games to see how we adjust.”