By Joseph Hamrick
The Commerce Journal
The next four games are pivotal for the Commerce Tigers Basketball team.
After a loss to Alba Golden on Tuesday, the Tigers currently sit tied for third place in the district, behind Lone Oak and Edgewood.
Tigers Head Coach Kirby Jackson said his team has grown from last year, and expects them to finish strong this year and make the playoffs.
“I feel really good about this team,” he said. “Last year we missed the playoffs by one game. We have been working non-stop to correct that and get into the playoffs. The players have done an excellent job with that.”
Jackson said this team is much deeper than last year’s team, which has helped give his players needed rest for strong 4th quarter finishes.
That trend Jackson said will continue, as both the 8th and 7th grade teams are undefeated, and the junior varsity team is sitting at 13-4 overall.
Jackson said players Conner Ellis and Josh Mckeithen are two men who have stepped up and been role models for the younger players.
“They’ve really showed the younger guys the ropes with so far as we want to accomplish.”
Out of the next four games, the Tigers have won against all but Lone Oak the first time around. Jackson said that makes him optimistic about the final stretch.
“It doesn’t make it easy, but it shows we can beat them,” he said. “We feel really good; excited.”
According to Jackson, the crowds who have shown up to their games have helped the team play at a high calibur pace.
“Thank you to the fans and the community for coming out and supporting us,” he said.
With both the high school and middle school teams doing well, Jackson said the players’ mentality has changed to be more confident in their abilities.
“We’re the little guy on the block trying to be recognized,” he said. “It has been several years since Commerce has been in the playoffs, so these kids want to put us on the map.”
The Tigers’ next game is at home against Lone Oak at 5:30 p.m. on Jan. 31.