Douglas County is taking a break from the Region 3-AAAAAA race to go against some of the best teams in Florida this weekend.
The Tigers traveled to Wally Keller Classic in Punta Gorda, Fla., to participate in the 16-team tournament over the next two days.
Douglas County opens the tournament against Norland, a powerhouse out of Miami, which is a four-time state champion. The 5:30 p.m. game today will feature two of the nation’s top players in Robinson and Norland’s center Dewan Huell.
A 6-foot-10 Miami signee, Huell is averaging 14.6 points, 8.8 rebounds and 2.1 block shots per game. He has 10 double-doubles this season.
In Saturday’s contest, the Tigers will face another Florida powerhouse in Bartow.
Huell is a five-star recruit, according to several online recruiting services.
The Yellow Jackets are also led by another major college signee in Tony Bradley. Like Robinson, he is a North Carolina signee.
“I’m very excited about playing against Tony again,” Robinson said. “We have played against each other in AAU ball.”
All three of the players are McDonald’s All-American nominees.
Douglas County players say they will have to play good defense against both big men in order to have a chance to win.
“I’ve really got to step up my play since I’m the tallest player we have,” Tigers senior center Devarion Davis said. “I’m going to guard them the best I can. I really feel good about our defense coming into the game because we have worked real hard. I know we can play at that level.”
The Tigers are coming off a region win over East Coweta heading into the tournament. In an earlier national tournament in Charlotte, N.C., the Tigers went 1-2 and finished seventh in the Hoodies National High School Hoops’ Tournament right after the Christmas holiday.
Robinson said the Tigers’ defense will be the key in playing against the two skilled big men.
“We are going down to Florida to compete with those teams,” he said. “I’ve got full confidence in our team. We have played against some top teams before so we know what to expect. I think playing in Charlotte and playing in this region has definitely helped us.”
The 6-foot-4 Robinson comes into the game averaging 25.9 points and 4.4 rebounds. Kalen Clifton is the team’s second-leading scorer at 13.1 points per contest.
Davis, who is 6-6, is averaging 6.6 points and 4.9 rebounds, the most on the team.
“It is going to be a big challenge for our big men this weekend,” Robinson said. “Communication is going to be a big key and the guards will have to help. We have to play a lot of help defense and try to give those teams different looks each time. We got to make it uncomfortable for them.”
Like Douglas County, Bartow has played a national schedule which included games in the Hoodies National High School Hoops’ Tournament, City of Palms Classic and the Beach Ball Classic in South Carolina. All are considered among the top holiday tournaments in the nation.
The Tigers left early Thursday morning by chartered bus to South Florida. The team said playing in this tournament should make them a little better when they get back to finish its region schedule.
Douglas County is 9-6 overall and 4-3 in the region. The region losses have been to defending region champion and state finalist Pebblebrook twice and to region leader Westlake.
“We know these games will help us,” Robinson said. “We are treating it like a business trip.”