First-year Elkins coach John Lawson preached defense to his team during preseason drills.
Through five games, the message has been received by his young squad.
The Tigers (5-0) enter today's game against Oak Hill in the Lewis County Holiday Classic allowing only 43 ppg. They will face a stern test, however, against the Red Devils, who have traditionally produced high-scoring teams.
The Inter-Mountain photo file photo
Elkins coach John Lawson discusses strategy with his team during a recent game against Clay-Battelle. The Tigers will meet Oak Hill at 6 p.m. today in the Lewis County Holiday Classic.
"This will be a challenge for us," Lawson said. "I don't know a lot about (Oak Hill) but they seem to always have very athletic teams.
"But the key for us is to play our style of game. We've stressed to the kids to not allow the other team to dictate the pace of the game. If we come out and play good defense, we can be in every game."
While the Tigers have played well defensively, Lawson said the offense still needs to find an identity.
"I told the kids we can't expect to beat good teams only scoring 50 points," he said. "I think we just need to get on the floor and play some more games. Once we do that, I think our offense will start producing more points."
The weather has hurt Elkins in regards to seeing the inside of a gymnasium, according to Lawson.
"We needed a little break, but we haven't been able to practice much," he said. "I worry we may come out and be rusty."
The Tigers have been idle since defeating Lincoln, 54-43, on Dec. 18 as Logan Phillips fired in 21 points. The junior leads the squad in scoring.
"Logan has really played well for us," Lawson said. "He can shoot from the outside and has played exceptional in our offense."
Tyler Shreve, Colby Gainer, L.J. Lawrence and Brandon Roth will likely join Phillips in the starting lineup.
Oak Hill, which moved up to Class AAA this season, repeated as state champions in Class AA in 2010-11. Walter Raines is in his first year as the Red Devil coach after replacing Fred Ferri Jr., who retired at the end of last season after 30 years at the post.
Oak Hill (2-1) cruised past Buckhannon-Upshur, 73-31, in its last game on Dec. 15. The Red Devils were slated to compete in the Bluefield tournament, which was postponed due to the weather.
Host Lewis County will face Ripley in today's second game at 7:30 p.m. On Friday, the Tigers will face Ripley at 6 p.m., while the Minutemen battle Oak Hill in the nightcap.
In other tournament action today, Philip Barbour will face North Marion at the Lincoln Holiday Tournament and Pocahontas County will host the AMR Holiday Tournament.
In girls' tourney play, Elkins meets Grafton in the Lincoln Holiday Tournament and Philip Barbour faces the host Lady Cougars in the same event.
Buckhannon-Upshur, meanwhile, competes in the Hampshire Holiday Tournament.
Contact Joey Kittle by email at email@example.com.