By DAVID CLAYBOURN
Greenville’s Lions and Lady Lions are hoping for a big, loud crowd tonight as they entertain two state-ranked teams from McKinney North for Jam the Gym Night.
The 5-18 Lady Lions, who are 2-9 in District 13-4A basketball play, will face No. 3 state-ranked McKiney North at about 6:30 p.m. McKinney North is 20-4 for the season and 11-0 in district play.
The 12-9 Lions, who are 4-5 in district play, will face No. 22 state-ranked McKinney North in the game that follows at about 8. The Bulldogs are 16-4 for the season and 9-0 in district play.
Jam the Gym is a promotion started in 1985 by Greenville basketball fan Charles Hunnicutt to attract more interest in the Lions’ and Lady Lions’ basketball programs. Some of the Jam the Gym games in the past have attracted crowds of more than 2,000 to the Lions Den.
“An extra big crowd could boost our team and give them extra energy to play a tough team,” said Lions coach Marcus Smith. “I believe we can do it. I think we got that monkey off of our back as far as winning away from home on Friday.”
The Lions ended an 11-game district losing road streak with a 70-65 win at Wylie East. Collen Wilburn pumped in 21 points, Justin Wade banked in 16 and Jerry Dickeson added 15 as the Lions climbed into a tie with Wylie for fourth place in the district race. The top four teams will qualify for the playoffs.
“That was a very big win,” said Smith.
McKinney North outscored the Lions 92-75 in McKinney on Jan. 3. The Bulldogs spread the scoring around among Jola Otubu (20), Collin Curran (17), Julion Pearre (13), Jared Pearre (13) and Steele Douglas (11).
“They have great guards that can drive and shoot the ball real well,” said Smith.
The Lady Lions are up against a McKinney North team that beat them 93-30 at McKinney. Mikaehla Connor hurt the Lady Lions in that game with 35 points.
“They have an inside-out game,” said Lady Lions coach Lesa Darst. “I think they’re more deadly on the outside. They’re athletic. They’re going to press us. We’re going to give it our best shot. We just want to be competitive.”
The Lady Lions dropped their last game on Friday to Wylie East, 46-30. Savannah Himes led the Lady Lions with 15 points seven rebounds. LaQuesha Williams finished with three assists.