Since the first day of the 2019-2020 season, the Fairview Panthers have been focused on a singular out come — to win a state championship. And they won't settle for anything less.
"When you get to this point, you have to be confident," Fairview head coach Kyle Jinks said. "It is not that I am over confident. If we don't win it all this year, and my team agreed on this, then this year for us has been a wasted season. We feel like we have the talent, and we have worked hard enough.
"That is the only acceptable thing, we have to win it. That is our goal and nothing else matters."
The No. 1 Panthers are two wins away from their 12th state championship and will face No. 5 Florien in the Class B semifinals today at 2:30 p.m. today at the Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA Marsh Madness state tournament at Burton Coliseum. The Panthers will face Florien for the first time since a 67-45 loss to the Blackcats in the 2018 quarterfinals.
"They are looking pretty good," Jinks said. "They got here for a reason.
"They have some goods guards and have kids that can shoot the ball well from the perimeter and two or three kids that can put the ball well on the floor. We just have to go out there and see what happens. They are a lot like us."
The Panthers are looking to win their first state championship winning a record eight consecutive titles from 2007 to 2014.
Fairview has won an impressive 40 games this year against many of the top teams in the state, including a win over the 2018 and 2019 Class 5A champion Captain Shreve. The Panthers only losses were to a trio of No. 1 teams in LaGrange (4A), Doyle (2A) and Lee Magnet (Div. II).
"It has been a while since we won 40 games and we have played a pretty tough schedule," Jinks said. "We try to play the good teams.
"We have set one goal all year and that was to win state."
Fairview can score in a hurry at 85.6 points a game with Maggie Manuel (20 ppg, 11 rpg), Lanyee Jinks (16 ppg), Rylee Cloud (15 ppg) and Rylee Jinks (14 ppg, 10 apg) averaging in double figures, but it also tears down opponents on the defensive side, forcing 25 turnovers a game.
"Our pressure is what causes problems for other people," Jinks said. "We are going to guard you full court, man-to-man.
"If they can't not handle a lot of pressure, it might be a long night from them. If they can, it might be a good game. For us, it is our speed. We have quick people and our defense is what gets us going. Some nights we shoot the ball and some we don't. When we rebound the ball, we are not bad."
Jinks added that his team will have to stay out of foul trouble or risk limiting the affectiveness of its high-pressure defense.
"Foul trouble will be key," Jinks said. "If we get into some foul trouble because they are not allowing us to play, it could cause some problems. If we don't get into the foul trouble and push the pace we will have an advantage."