Ringgold head basketball coach Greg Elkins said he's always believed in Duke head Coach Mike Krzyzewski's philosophy that "each team's success is only judged by that team and not the prior team."
After losing nine seniors from last season's team that won ?? games, Elkins said he didn't have "high expectations."
Nevertheless, the Blue-and-White defeated arch-rival Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe 69-52 on Thursday, Feb. 14 to qualify for the Class AAA State Tournament. The Tigers will play at Morgan County on Wednesday.
Elkins said he hated to have to defeat his friend, head coach Jerry Jones, and LFO to get to the state. However, he said he was ecstatic with his team's accomplishments.
"We have a bunch of hard working kids," Elkins said. "I feel like we've continued to get better each game. We've really started to peak at the end of the year and we've exceeded a lot of expectations."
Elkins said he's expecting a war with a Morgan County team that has one of the Top 50 point guards in the state. He said they also have two of the tallest post players Ringgold has faced this season.
"We would like to get in there and win a game," Elkins said. "The kids are pretty confident ... we'll see."
Elkins said the biggest turning point this season was getting Kile Sholl back in the lineup. He started out the year with a leg injury, but is now averaging 14 points per game. He averaged almost 18 points per game in the region tournament.
Tyler Adams and Zach Dean are the other two leading scorers, averaging 10 points each.
Adams, the team's lone senior, is averaging eight rebounds per game.
Elkins said win or lose, he's also looking forward to next season because his Tigers will lose just one player to graduation.
"This is a good group," he said. "I think chemistry is big. We have a team of unselfish players that are willing to pass the ball for a better shot. They work really hard defensively. We're not overly gifted or overly athletic, but they work really hard and they work well together."
Ringgold dropped its last two games of the tournament to Cartersville, 64-56, on Feb. 15 and to Gordon Central, 68-59, on Feb. 16.
LFO (9-15) defeated Coahulla Creek, 73-57, in Wednesday's game to advance to the match-up with Ringgold. The Tigers had defeated the Red-and-White in their two previous meetings this season (59-50 on Dec. 14 and 54-50 and Jan. 5).
LFO All-region selection Daniel Parrish scored 27 points, including five treys against Coahulla Creek. Daniel Oliver contributed 15 points for the Warriors.