Hopkinsville’s Bubba Leavell rises for a layup during a scrimmage at Meet the Tigers on Monday.

The Anthony Babb era for the Hopkinsville Tigers is set to begin next week and after being pulled back in to coach the boys’ program after stepping away from the Lady Tigers, Babb is happy to be in his new role with his new team.

“I love doing what I’m doing whether it’s on the boys’ side or the girls,” Babb said. “It feels good to be back coaching a group that loves to play hard.”

Babb said the transition into the program has been a smooth one and he believes his team is already buying into what he is trying to teach them.

“It’s all about relationships,” he said. “I come in just trying to build relationships with the kids before showing them anything on the court. We’re going to try to get up and down the floor, play solid defense and put points on the board. I think everybody is buying in.”

While losing some key pieces a year ago with the likes of Alijah Watts, Arthur McKnight, Reese Jesse and Jamarcus Burks, the Tigers still have the depth with the addition of some transfers from across town to build on the momentum it made a year ago.

However, the new head coach said it’s going to take a lot of work to get the Tigers back to the Second Region semifinals and even beyond that.

“It’s going to take hard work and dedication,” Babb said. “Each player knows they’re going to be held accountable. We’re going to hold each other accountable and we’re going to compete every day. That’s what it’s going to take to get where we want to be. … We just have to believe in ourselves and work hard.”

The Tigers were just short of a trip to the Second Region Championship a year ago and with Lyon County and Madisonville-North Hopkins back as the clear-cut top two in the region, they know it will be a tall task.

Babb is confident that his team can be one of the best in the region.

Even the best team.

“If we continue to work hard, we’re right there,” Babb said. “We’re looking at the region and maybe even state if we continue to work hard. We’ve got a group of athletes that like to get up and down the court. We’ve got to shoot the ball well, we’ve got to become a better free-throw shooting team and we’ve got to be a solid rebounding team in order to win.”

With the season starting on Nov. 30 for the Tigers, Babb is excited to get his first year back with the boys’ program started.

“All I can say God is good,” he said. “When one door closes, another one opens. I truly believe we have a chance with this group. I’ve already seen them go from boys to men. The sky is the limit with this group as long as we have a good attitude, stay focused and believe in ourselves.”

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