Having defeated the South Cougars, 61-44, last Thursday, the Southwest Bulldogs ninth-grade boys' basketball team (13-3) begins the final week of the regular season with momentum.
Against South, Drake DeBiasse led all scorers with 15 points, while Nick Hassig and Bradley Jamierson each scored 14 to lead the Bulldog's balanced offensive attack.
Tough defensive pressure led to turnovers and easy buckets, which has been a benchmark of Southwest's team this year.
"We're a real hard-nosed defensive team," Southwest coach David Schneider said. "We got to rely on that. Some nights we just don't shoot well. We've got to work hard on defense and get baskets in transition. And some nights when the shots aren't falling, we can stay in the game just because we played good defense."
Having won 13 games already this season, the Bulldogs could be satisfied knowing they've had another fine season. But the Bulldogs hope to end their season on a higher note by repeating as champions of the Warhawk Invitational next week, which takes place Feb. 12-15.
To do that, they might have to make a few adjustments.
"We usually play man-to-man," Schneider said. "But when we match up with some of the teams in the tournament, we're going to have to play some zone."
No matter what kind of defense the Bulldogs play during the tournament, Jamierson is eager for it to begin.
"I'm excited," he said. "I'm ready to go. I think it's going to be fun."
In the fourth quarter against South, Jamierson's tough defense led to fastbreak opportunities for the Bulldogs, who eventually pushed a 10-point lead to 17.
While Southwest post player Michael Lisher had an off night, scoring just four points, Jamierson's effort in the Bulldogs' win didn't go unnoticed.
"Brad just plays hard for us," Schneider said.
And putting forth top-notch effort throughout the tournament is what Jamierson sees as the key to winning the championship for the Bulldogs.
"I think we're just going to have to play as a team in order to win," he said. "We have to play good defense."
Two of the Bulldogs' three loses this year have been to West. And the possibility of a potential championship game against their rivals already has the Bulldogs looking forward to it.
"That'd be neat," Schneider said. "These guys would love to do that. It's going to be a long road against a lot of good teams. This tournament is stacked and whoever comes out a winner is definitely a champ."