HINDMAN, Ky. (WYMT) - Knott Central was oh so close to advancing to last year's Sweet 16 semifinals, and with the core of that team making a return trip to Rupp Arena, this year's Patriots are a year older and more experienced.
"We feel a lot better. We're a lot more experienced. We know what to do," says sophomore forward Simon Christon. "We just know that we got to make a lot more free throws than what we did last year. That hurt us a lot. We just got to play our game and I think we'll be fine."
"Like, tremendously. You get the feeling like last year was just fun. You know, you made it for the first time. But this year it's more of a business trip. And we feel like we can do better than what we did last year," adds Camron Justice, a sophomore guard.
The Patriots were able to defend their 14th region crown by blowing past Perry Central 52-32 thanks in large part to a strong defensive effort.
"We just knew that we had to play physical with them," says Christon. "The first two games that we played, we just let them really run over top of us, and we really didn't stand up. But this time we stood and just played a whole lot more physical then what we did."
And if Knott is to advance past their first round opponent, Clay County, they will need a similar defensive performance.
"They have good guard play but mostly, they're physical. They're a really physical team," says sophomore Chance Cornett. "They have inside boys that really go to the boards hard, and we're going to have to work hard to hold them down."
"To be honest, when you get to the state tournament, everyone is going to be tough. You're not going to have any easy games," adds Patriot head coach, B.B. King. "And of course Robert (Marcum), he does a good job there. I got all the respect in the world for him. And I know his team is going to battle you. You know, they're going to play physical. If there's a ball on the floor, they're going to be on it, they're going to be diving on it. That was him."
The Patriots will look to make it back to back trips to the Sweet 16 quarterfinals, and maybe more, when they tip-off with the Tigers Thursday night at 8:00pm at Rupp Arena.