(LESTERVILLE) The #2 Lesterville Bearcats will play host to the boys Black River League semifinals Thursday on J-98. The first semifinal features the #1 South Iron Panthers against the #4 Ellington Whippets in a rematch from last season’s tournament title game. South Iron holds a 12-2 record and a #2 ranking in the Class 1 coaches poll, but will be without star sophomore guard Brock Wakefield due to a hand injury. Nevertheless, Panthers coach Dusty Dinkins says he has confidence that his group can overcome Wakefield’s absence.

Ellington is coming off a 75-67 victory over Clearwater in round one of the tournament Tuesday. Currently at 8-6, the Whippets played the Panthers in Ellington back on December 4th and lost 78-68. However, Whippets coach Jeremy Peterson liked the effort his boys played with and hopes they can repeat that Thursday.

In the second semifinal, the third-seeded East Carter Redbirds will face the host and two-seed Lesterville Bearcats. These two teams played on January 3rd and the Bearcats got the best of the Redbirds at home by a score of 70-62. Head coach of the Bearcats Anthony Caruso says that having home court advantage in this rematch could be a big factor.

The Redbirds are in the midst of their best strech of basketball in a long time says head coach Jordan Penn.

The Black River League boys semifinals will tip off at 6:30 Thursday night. The Flieg’s Equipment Pregame show will begin at 6:15 on J-98.