In sports at all levels, the host team has an advantage.
Both coaches of Saturday's Sandusky Bay Conference showdown of girls basketball powers Clyde and Perkins expressed that belief.
In the first meeting, Clyde (13-0, 10-0 SBC) rolled to a 60-46 win on Dec. 17 at Clyde High School. On Saturday afternoon, the scene shifts to Perkins where the Pirates (12-2, 9-1 SBC) have not lost a home game in nearly two years.
"We're hoping the home court can swing some things our way," Perkins coach Ray Neill said. "Our student body and fan base has been outstanding all year. Hopefully that will be an advantage for us."
Meanwhile, Clyde coach John Cahill said the venue changes things.
"It's a whole different challenge, it will be a big crowd mainly wearing black or red," Cahill said. "It will definitely have a different feel than the game in Clyde, but we're excited about it, to play in an environment like that you have to be privileged.
"A lot of Saturday games aren't packed so people will be excited, but it's what you do the work for. Perkins has a great home court advantage, they haven't lost there in a while so it is going to be a daunting task."
Neill likes to believe his team is different than the one that played at Clyde early in the season, but Cahill does see a different Perkins team.
"They looked good against Sandusky last week, you could tell they have more confidence and have a better team," he said. "Their level of play is better and that's to be expected. I think they had a little growing pain losing (point guard) Mallory Mullins, but they are hitting their stride now."
Perkins has played better once it decided on junior Jordan Fraley as the point guard. In replacing Mullins, the lone senior starter from last season's 21-2 team, Neill had spread the duties between Fraley, Chelsea Smith and Darcy Daniel.
"Deciding on Jordan being our dominant point guard has been a plus for us," Neill said. "That's not so say that the other girls we were running out there weren't doing OK, it's just the stability of having one person out there on a nightly basis.
"That was somewhat unfair to all three girls to share the position."
Neill said his team needs to limit turnovers in the offensive halfcourt that it had in the first meeting with the Fliers, while also limiting potential 6- to 8-point runs that Clyde tends to go on.
"We need to make some perimeter shots on the outside," he said. "Clyde has played well and with a lot of confidence. They came out of the gate, went to Tiffin and won big and got us at their place fifth game of the year.
"That kind of set things in motion for them, and they have continued to do that for 13 games."
Cahill admitted he's not a huge fan of having a week off between games heading into the showdown on Saturday, because his team hasn't played much in January in general.
"We like to be playing, we've just had so much time off," he said. "This will be our fifth game this month, so we've had a lot of down time.
"The good part is we've gotten to work on a lot of stuff, but I don't know how sharp we are with one game a week."
But, being 13-0, Cahill hasn't had much to complain about.
"I've been happy with way we've been playing," he said. "It will be a test to go into that environment and sustain a high level of play. I've told my team I'd take them anywhere to play anyone, and this will be a great test for them."
As for Perkins, Neill is pleased with where his team stands.
We're 12-2 and lost at Clyde (No. 10 in Division II AP poll) and Hathaway Brown (No. 6 in Division II AP poll)," he said. "And even the loss at Hathaway Brown was a plus for us. We may not have beaten some teams by the point differential than maybe some other people have, but I think recently we have turned a little corner.
"We've had some good solid practices, we've figured some things and simplified some things. Really we tried to find some things we can do well and stick with it."