Middlesboro School District closes for State Tournament

Published 1:57 pm Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Classes have been canceled Wednesday and Thursday for the Middlesboro School District so students, teachers and communtiy members can travel to Richmond to support the boys’ and girls’ basketball teams in the All “A” State Tournament.

“It’s the first time in school history that we have had the boys and girls play in the state tournament,” said Superintendent Waylon Allen.

“I want the elementary, middle and high school teachers to be able to attend the ballgames along with parents and students, if they want to go,” he said. “I want it to be open to the community.”

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The Lady Yellow Jackets play at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday against Holy Cross. The tournament is being played at Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond.

“We are a very young team right now and I’m looking very forward for them getting this opportunity,” said Scott Overbay, Lady Jackets head coach. “Who knows what happens Wednesday morning? We can come out and light it up or we can come out and stink it up. It can happen either way.

“We want to go represent Middlesboro High School and our community the best that we can.”

Overbay has three seniors on the team and says it means the world to him to watch them make it this far in the season.

“To take them and win a 13th Region All “A” Title and to go play in the state means absolutely everything,” he said.

Senior Aubrey Sowders says the team goes into the gym every day and tries to do their best.

“We come in with our heads on straight and work hard at it,” Sowders said. “I think it’s a big accomplishment for us and we’ve grown a lot. The team chemistry has developed and we’ve grown a lot as individuals, and you can see it all come together.”

Senior Baylee Woody agrees that the team has grown as the season progressed.

“We started out slow,” she said. “It took us a while to come together and stick together as a team. We realized how good we could actually be and that’s led us to where we are now. I’m really excited to play at EKU with my team, I’m really excited about that and (to) show what we are capable of. I believe we have a really good chance in this tournament.”

Senior Lakyn King said, “Making it this far is a big accomplishment for us. I really think we have a chance because we have a chance against anyone as long as we play hard and play together.”

The boys’ basketball team will take on Knott Central at 11:30 a.m. Thursday.

“The kids, they’ve really worked hard to get to this point,” said head coach Lewis Morris. “The All “A” is a really special tournament …. It gives the smaller schools the opportunity to go up and play in the Sweet 16-type format.”

Morris said the tournament can be very beneficial for the boys if they treat it the right way.

“It was one of their goals at the beginning of the year, to win the All “A” Region and go to the All “A” State and compete,” he said. “They’ve worked really hard to get here. They just have to keep working hard.”

Senior Christian Hubbard says it means a lot to him because the first three years he played on the team, they fought hard, played good games, even won games, but they never won a championship.

“We went (to the) first round in the district,” he said. “It was a good game but we didn’t win it. It means a lot that we actually accomplished winning this year and it builds a foundation. I definitely want to win Thursday and go farther into the weekend and win all at State. If we could do that, it would make history and that would be amazing.”

Josh Overbay said, “Getting the chemistry together with everybody, that was the main thing. From the beginning of the season until now, we were just trying to find ourselves, get everything right, and we went to the All “A” Tournament and we ended up winning the thing.”

Overbay said the team is going in with a good mindset.

“We’ve already played this team once so we know how they play,” he said. “They’re a good team and if we do what we are supposed to, we should come out with the win.”

Superintendent Allen said he wants to encourage the whole community to support the Yellow Jackets and the Lady Jackets as they make their way to Richmond for this historic event.

“It’s a great time to be a Yellow Jacket,” he said.

Coach Overbay is encouraging the same kind of support.

“I would like to see as many people if they can come up, represent and support our girls,” he said.

Middlesboro School District will return to its regular school schedule on Friday.