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Lizi Arbogast / The Outlook The Benjamin Russell versus Central Coosa game always brings out an enthusiastic crowd and is a good way for both teams to end the regular season.

There’s only one game left in the regular season, and it’s one of the most anticipated of the year. An even bigger excitement surrounds tonight’s Benjamin Russell versus Central Coosa boys basketball game as the Wildcats’ new coach Jeremy Freeman ushers in his old team for the first time.

“I wouldn’t say there’s any additional pressure for me but it is a home game and we would love to defend our home court against Coosa,” Freeman said. “If there’s any pressure, I would like to be bestowed on me more so than the players.”

The two teams went toe to toe in their first meeting this season. Benjamin Russell pushed the Cougars to overtime, but Central Coosa eventually prevailed as Casson Robbins got hot in the extra frame and helped his team to a 64-57 victory. 

It’s hard to predict exactly what’ll happen in tonight’s game though. Both teams have changed so much since the first meeting Dec. 13. For the Cougars, they’ve gelled together much better and freshman Dequalon Thomas and sophomore Tre Butler are really starting to come into their own. The duo helps Coosa run a fast-paced offense that’s given Benjamin Russell some fits in the past.

But the Wildcats, on the flip side, have also gotten some extra momentum from their young    players and they seem to be peaking at the right time. In the first meeting, Central Coosa had a more potent offense that was difficult for BRHS to keep up with but the Wildcats have started to score quite a bit more. 

After going five straight games without surpassing the 50-point mark — in fact, dating back to the first meeting with Coosa — the Wildcats have averaged 68.3 points per game over their last three outings.

“We have new players and it shows that our continuity is getting better and better,” Freeman said. “We’ve been more consistent with our offensive flow and our defensive strategies. Here again, there’s also a comfortableness at home. It makes everything a little bit easier for us at home.”

Regardless of the outcome, this is a great way to end the season not just for the fans but also for the teams. Both teams are looking to make a run in the postseason. Central Coosa will host its area tournament starting Tuesday and BRHS will hit the road to try to take a stab at Opelika, which it’s been inching closer to all season.

This game will certainly get both squads prepared for what playoff games, especially the further a team goes, will be like.

“This is something that can help us go into our playoff run and hopefully give us momentum,” Freeman said. “Playing in front of a big grown, that helps a team morale. This is for the fans. This is what they live for. This is our Alabama-Auburn. It’s huge, and being that this is going to be the last game before the playoffs start, you can’t ask for anything more.” 

Lizi Arbogast is the sports editor at Tallapoosa Publishers, Inc.