Head coach John Good said he believes the Pioneers can use that experience to their advantage this time around.
Crockett will take on Mentor, Ohio, in the nightcap of the first day of the 33rd annual Arby’s Classic at Viking Hall in Bristol. Tipoff is scheduled for tonight at 8:30.
At least the Pioneers (10-2) know the flavor of the Arby’s from last year. They defeated Georgia’s North Gwinnett 70-67 before falling to Jefferson County and Milton, Florida, in a pair of competitive games.
“Playing in the Arby’s environment can be very daunting because of the huge crowd,” said Crockett head coach John Good. “We talk to the players about using the energy from the crowd. The crowd wants to cheer for someone, and it might as well be us. The kids felt that last year.”
In other first-round games today, Greeneville takes on Urspring, Germany, at 1 p.m., Christian Academy of Knoxville meets Grand Bahamas Tabernacle Baptist at 2:30, and Gate City, Va., goes up against Tift County, Ga., at 4 o’clock.
Also, Tennessee High plays North Mecklenburg, N.C., at 5:30 p.m., and Dobyns-Bennett faces off against Oak Ridge at 7 p.m.
The tournament takes a day off Sunday, and resumes with four games Monday. Included in that mix is Sullivan East going up against St. James, Md., at 7 o’clock. Play continues through Thursday’s championship at 6:30 p.m.
Mentor (5-1) is known as a high-scoring, 3-point-shooting wildcatter of a team. The Cardinals, who made it to the Arby’s finals in 2012, have already hit the 100-point mark once this season.
“Every player they put on the floor is a threat to score,” said Good. “Or they do something that will help a teammate score.”
Among the key players for Mentor are senior guard Andrew Valeri, Alan Sims, Jack Korsok and Andrew Robinson.
But Good said his team’s main focus is competing hard.
“We need to focus on us and the task at hand,” said Good. “We don’t talk about winning or losing. We talk about competing, and then the score will take care of itself.”
Crockett counters with a roster that includes Patrick Good, who is considered one of the top guards in the state. Other keys for Crockett include Brendan Coleman, Josh Releford and Dustin Day.
The Pioneers started this season with nine straight wins before losing 98-93 to Charlotte (N.C.) Providence Day, a game where Good put up 44 points and hit 10 3-pointers. The next night, Crockett lost 64-62 to Charlotte Christian.
Crockett bounced back Tuesday with a 68-46 win over Unicoi County.