ANDERSON — Lapel boys basketball coach Jimmie Howell has 513 career victories, and Anderson is the defending Madison County tournament champion.
Still, few would have predicted the Bulldogs (6-3) and Indians (5-5) would meet for the 2014 title. But that will be the championship game matchup tonight at the Tepee, with each team coming off an upset of a rival.
Lapel's shocker came in Saturday's semifinals on a last-second basket for a 54-53 victory against Class 2A No. 2 Frankton. Anderson stunned Pendleton Heights 61-48 in Friday's opening round then roared past Liberty Christian 64-50 in the semifinals.
Now the Tribe will make its fifth straight title game appearance and chase its third title since 2008.
"We've played in some big games already," Anderson coach Joe Nadaline said. "The Pendleton atmosphere was a championship-type atmosphere Friday night, as was the Lapel-Frankton atmosphere Saturday night. Both teams have played in it, and it should be a fun game Monday night."
The teams met in the season-opener Nov. 26 at Lapel, with the Indians pulling out a 54-47 victory. But both coaches said that contest will have little impact tonight.
Neither team played particularly well in the first matchup, with just five or six practices under their belt. This time around, they'll each be playing for the third time in four nights.
"Both teams are better, both teams are a lot better," Howell said. "(Anderson sophomore) Kobe Clay, he's made big strides. He's going to be difficult for us to stop inside. They've gotten better on the perimeter. They've gotten deeper. They've certainly improved, and I hope we have, too."
Clay had 14 points and 12 rebounds in the semifinal victory against Liberty Christian. But senior guard Kenya Wilkerson led the team with 15 points and added 10 boards.
On Friday against Pendleton Heights, Grant Bennett led the Tribe with 20 points. And junior guard FreSan Reese ran the offense effectively in both games and protected the basketball.