Head Basketball Coach Jonathan Pixley and his top-ranked Tigers head into the final three games of the regular season armed with a powerful weapon: home court advantage.
The Tigers (21-4) will face three district opponents —Episcopal, Lee High and Christian Life—over 8 days to close out the regular season, all at home.
“We have the best home court advantage in the city in my opinion,” Pixley said. “We have been very tough to beat in our gym, and I expect that to continue.”
Even with that key advantage, Pixley knows that his talented Tigers still face big challenges. “We have to stay focused against teams that we know are less talented. We know we should win these games, but focusing on maxing out our abilities needs to be our primary goal,” he said.
To secure those wins, Pixley will rely heavily on his starters to take care of business on the floor. “[Sophomore] Jordan Wright leads us in almost every statistical category. [Junior]Mike Williams has had a great season. [Senior] EJ Hitchens & [sophomore] Ty Spurlock are two of the best defenders I've ever coached, as well as being very solid offensive players. And [senior] Travis Myers has led by example on both ends of the floor all season long,” Pixley explained.
“We have to continue to focus on the defensive end of the floor first and foremost. We have really turned up the defensive intensity recently, starting with the first Episcopal game. When these guys are locked in, they are difficult to score on because of their athleticism, length, and toughness,” Pixley continued.
His young Tiger team’s performance reflects their progress throughout the season. “Their growth and recognition of each other’s strengths and weaknesses has been huge. The roles of each player have been clearly defined at this point, and each guy has accepted and embraced their responsibilities,” said Pixley. “ [The players] get along like the family they have become. Maintaining our edge will be the toughest challenge our coaching staff aces, but these guys have picked up their intensity in the last 2 weeks, so we are on track.”
With eyes on the ultimate prize, Pixley and his Tigers know they can not take any opponent for granted.
“Most importantly, we have to focus on one game at a time and not get caught up in what's ahead. Getting caught up in that is one way to ensure you never get to that point to begin with,” Pixley said. “ I know it's very cliche, but we cannot afford to skip any steps in the process that has brought us success thus far.”
(2017 photo by Steve Johnson)