Jordan Hurrell
Jordan Hurrell
David vs. Goliath.

It's one of the more worn-out clichés in sports.

On paper, the Class AAA James Buchanan boys and girls basketball teams are playing the Goliath role today when they invade the home court of Class A Fannett-Metal.

To Rockets' girls coach Rick Cristofano and boys coach Larry Strawoet, that doesn't do justice to the environment their teams will enter in Willow Hill.

"It's going to be a packed gym," Cristofano said. "It will be an electrifying situation crowd-wise - they have a very small court. It's going to be hard to adapt to the challenge of overcoming tight quarters compared to what we're used to."

"We're going to be the underdogs," Strawoet said. "It's going to be a Hoosier-type feel."

Fannett boys coach Greg Best knows his boys team - currently on a five-game winning streak - is looking forward to the challenge.

"They play in a whole different league," Best said. "They don't want to come up and get a loss against a smaller school, so it'll definitely be a challenge - a great little Franklin County game."

The Tigers are hot - both teams won their respective four-team Christmas tournaments last week.

The boys game will feature a matchup of formidable backcourts. Fannett-Metal (5-1) will march to the beat of Walker Bannister and Jordan Hurrell. Through six games, Bannister has averaged 20.2 points per game, Hurrell 16.5.

Best will count on more from both boys than just putting the ball in the basket.

"I'll look for them to create plays for the rest of the guys," Best said, "and also defensively they've got to get after it."

Rocket senior guards Garrett Malanka, averaging 10.5 points per game, and Liam Corcoran, 8.5 points, have been bright spots for JB (1-7) amidst a tough start to the season. Strawoet will turn to Corcoran on defense with the assignment of limiting Bannister.

"Liam's gotten the task of guarding the best player from every one of our opponents in addition to running the offense as our point guard," Strawoet said.

Jannae Piper
Jannae Piper
"(Walker) Bannister can score some points. We're going to have to play some great team defense."

In contrast, the girls contest will shift the attention to the paint.

"One of our sayings this year has been when you get the ball on offense, first thought should be 'I'm going to score by taking it to the hole,'" said Tigers coach Jen Lauthers of her team's physical mentality.

Defensively, JB (1-6) will focus on the Tigers' Megan Dougherty and Blaire Lauthers. Dougherty has averaged 18 points. Lauthers hasn't been denied double-digits yet, averaging 15.7 points for FM (4-2).

"We expect to use our speed to our advantage," said Cristofano on his teams' key to slowing down the Tigers' scoring duo.

The Rockets have disguised their use of Jennae Piper - who leads JB with 13 points per game - by bringing her into their games off the bench.

That won't be the case in Willow Hill.

"She'll be starting," Cristofano said. "She's on her way into the lineup not just with her scoring, but defense and rebounding and dedication to helping her teammates. I'm looking forward to seeing what she can do."

Jeff Kolb can be reached at 262-4819 or jkolb@publicopinionnews.com.

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James Buchanan at Fannett-Metal

Game data: James Buchanan Rockets at Fannett-Metal Tigers Saturday, girls at 6 p.m., boys at 7:30 Non-league games.

Teams: The JB girls are 1-6; the Tigers are 4-2 For the boys, the Rockets are 1-7, while F-M is 5-1.

Series: In the 2 years the doubleheader has been played, 2008-09 and 2009-10, the teams have split both games.

P.O. pick: Fannett-Metal in a sweep, girls by 4, boys by 6.