SPRINGFIELD, Fla (WJHG/WECP) - Several area boys basketball teams are looking ahead to first round state playoff games Thursday night.
For those that were able to claim a district championship title last week, they get the luxury of hosting their playoff openers.
That list includes the Rutherford Rams, the champs of 6A-1, thanks to this win last Friday night over Bay.
That has Rutherford getting set for a game Thursday night at the Spiva Ram House against district two runner up Godby.
The Cougars come east with a 15-11 mark, they lost to Rickards in their district championship. The Rams are 22-4 on the season, and are making their ninth consecutive playoff appearance, and 11th in the last 12 years.
"I mean it's a blessing," Rhondie Ross, Rutherford boys basketball coach said. "That's the expectation to make it every year. Hopefully one of these years we'll win the thing, but it's good. Every year the kids get an opportuntiy to play when other people aren't playing. So, like I said, it's a great feeling. I think it's a big deal that we've got such an inexperienced team. Teams tend to play better at home anyway, so I think it's a big deal."
That's remarkable enough, but even more so, says coach Ross, given back in October, he was dealing with a very young squad, with eight first time varsity players.
"Yeah the kids have exceeded my expectations," Ross said. "You know with the turnover on our roster, we lost nine guys. We had a losing record this summer, we went to camp at FSU and didn't win a game. You know we didn't have our whole team together this summer either, but these guys have exceeded my expectations. And I think we won 15 games in a row, we won 20 games again. So it's been a pleasant surprise, so they've exceeded my expectations, like I said earlier."
Bay meanwhile as the district one runner up, takes its 7-18 record east Thursday night to take on Rickards which is 18-7.
In 7A, Crestview's at Pensacola. Choctaw, the champs of District 1, host Milton.
In 5A, Marianna's at Catholic. West Florida's at Gadsden.
In 1A Region Semifinals, Cottondale's at Bethlehem. Laurel Hill's at Blountstown. Franklin's at Baker. Chipley's at Port St. Joe.