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Golden Tigers win area to host subregion

When the Russellville boys left the gym at Hamilton High School Jan. 14 after a loss to the Aggies, they knew later in the season they would be back to play more meaningful games on that same floor.

Those games took place Feb. 5-8 at the area tournament taking place at HHS. This time, the Golden Tigers returned to the court and grabbed two wins to claim the Class 5A, Area 14 championship.

Russellville defeated the Aggies 62-52 in the area final after taking a 71-66 win over West Point in the first game of the tournament. The area championship was the third in the past four years for RHS, and with the area title came the reward of getting to host the sub-region game Feb. 12. The Golden Tigers faced Madison Academy in that contest, with a trip to the Northwest Regional at Wallace State on the line. Results were not available prior to press deadline.

With the win over the Aggies, the Golden Tigers improved their record on the season to 20-6; they haven’t lost since that January night at Hamilton, tallying eight-straight wins.

“It was a group of kids on a mission, and it is step one for us,” said Russellville head coach Patrick Odom. “A goal of area championship is good, and we’re proud of it. It’s a 20-win season for us and a lot of great stuff from tonight, but we’re not done. We want to make sure we enjoy it but move ahead, too, and there’s more work to do.

“I’m just proud of our kids. There’s so much toughness and character in that locker room, and you saw it play out tonight.”

Earlier in the week, Russellville got a scare from the West Point in the opening game of the tournament. The Golden Tigers led at the end of the first quarter, 20-18, but the Warriors came on strong in the second period and used outstanding outside shooting to outscore RHS 24-11 in the quarter to take a 42-31 lead into the halftime break.

RHS cut into the West Point advantage in the third quarter and took the lead at 65-64 on a three-point play with 2:00 to go in the game. The Warriors made eight three-pointers in the contest, but six of them came in the game’s first half. The RHS defense held the opponent to only one field goal in the final quarter.