THOMASVILLE — The Region 1-AA champions are ready to flex their muscle on the state stage.
Fresh off a region-clinching victory over Early County in the tournament title game last Saturday, the Thomasville Bulldogs return to the court this upcoming Saturday in the first round playoff game against Bleckley County.
Tip off is scheduled for 7 p.m.
Thomasville (21-4) enters the state tournament having won 12 of its last 13 games and have lost only once this calendar year.
“We’re playing well. I think the kids are finally starting to understand how to compete night in and night out,” Thomasville basketball coach Ben Tillman said. “With a very young team, you just don’t know what you’re going to get from game to game. It’s been a maturation process with those kids and they have continued to mature and grow from every game.
“I’m just so elated that the kids stepped up to the challenge and was able to make this month a very successful one, especially in the region tournament.”
Thomasville’s success is incredible considering how young this year’s team is. Thomasville lost six seniors from last year’s team that finished 22-7 and advanced to the second round of the state playoffs. This year’s Bulldogs have three seniors but only one sees substantial playing time.
A team composed of mostly juniors and sophomores has earned their coach’s respect.
“I don’t think they surpassed my expectations because my expectations are always high. But I do think they have earned my respect. That means a lot,” Tillman said. “As a coach you always have expectations for your kids to do well.
“But when you go into a game and when kids start earning your respect and trust and you can trust them in certain situations and respect that they will make good decisions, it’s really important. They have earned my trust and they have definitely earned my respect in being able to make decisions on the fly.”
If Thomasville wins Saturday, it’ll host the winner of Temple and Chattooga.