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Kia of Murfreesboro Game of Week: Blackman boys vs. MLK

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Blackman's boys will look to build on a solid 7-2 start on Monday when the Blaze face MLK in the Father Ryan Christmas Tournament and Kia of Murfreesboro Game of the Week.

Blackman is coming off victories over Stone Memorial (65-36) and Lawrence County (72-66) in the Outback Classic last weekend at Blackman.

"I thought it was a good two days for team and program," Blackman coach Barry Wortman said. "We got better each game. The first night out played with a lot of energy and played a lot of guys and different rotations.

"The night we played Lawrence County, who we've played two of last three years for the region championship. They shoot it really well. They made 11 3s. We did a really good job finding open guys and compromising. Both games were great tests."

Blackman will certainly face a tough test against a talented and athletic MLK squad.

"They're extremely athletic," Wortman said, "and they've got good size. You worry about a talented team that can score, and you're also worried about coming back after three days off.

"Can you go back and be focused and ready to play. We'll have to be ready to play."

Wortman said rebounding will be a key to the Blaze's chances at victory.

"They rebound it extremely well," he said. "We have a goal to be plus 12 on the glass every game, and that will be a good goal for us.

"Our concern is also to guard them off the dribble and keep them in front of us."

Wortman said MLK as well as Blackman's other two opponents yet to be determined will be good preparation for the upcoming grind in district play.

"All year long we've tried to play people that zone and press and do different things," he said. "We thought that would be important to see things that we can improve on and get better. Definitely during a Christmas tournament, it's always good to play people who play different styles of play."

* Last week's Kia of Murfreesboro Game of the Week unfortunately never materialized.

Riverdale's girls were set to face nationally ranked Riverdale (Maryland) Baptist in the Nike Tournament of Champions in Phoenix, Arizona, but the Lady Warriors were never able to catch a flight.

"It was a nightmare," said Riverdale coach Randy Coffman. "We were at the airport at 5:55 a.m. and set there for 10 hours. They canceled every flight on Saturday. There were no flights anywhere. The soonest we could get there would have been Tuesday, and I didn't want our first loss to be a forfeit.

"So we pulled out of the tournament. We tried to fly out of Birmingham, Atlanta and Memphis, but there just weren't any flights. It was frustrating for our kids. That kind of thing just doesn't happen. We did a lot of fundraising for the tournament. The good thing is they refunded our money and so did the tournament, so we'll have a nice trip paid for next year."

Reach sports editor Monte Hale Jr. at mhale@murfreesboropost.com

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