Here are the top five teams in terms of their chances of reaching Murfreesboro for the state tournaments, which begin in March.
75 PERCENT CHANCE
Daniel Boone Lady Trailblazers
Boone has all of the pieces a team needs to complete the state tournament puzzle. The Lady ’Blazers have size, strength, toughness, coaching, teamwork, and the experience of getting close. They are Northeast Tennessee’s best bet.
Science Hill Lady Hilltoppers
One of their biggest hurdles is close to home. But if they can find a few more points in a potential rematch with Boone, Science Hill could supplant Boone as the frontrunner.
With 25 wins in pocket and a nice team makeup, D-B can plot a road for postseason success. But even if the Indians fight off Science Hill’s challenge, they may have to find a way to turn the tables on a Jefferson County team that has beaten them twice.
Science Hill Hilltoppers
Defense isn’t an issue, but consistent offense is one thing the Hilltoppers must produce in the postseason to have a dreamer’s chance of reaching The Boro.
Unicoi County Blue Devils
It helps to have a game changer like Trevor Hensley. It also helps to have Austin-East out of the picture (see following note). But the Blue Devils must wade through a competitive district and a challenging region just to set a sectional shot.
Path of less resistance
For Northeast Tennessee boys basketball teams with Class AA state tournament aspirations, the road got a little less rocky with the TSSAA’s decision last week to deny the appeals of Austin-East and Brainerd.
The schools had requested a reduction in their postseason ban for this year and next. The penalties were levied because of a brawl that took place during a recent game between these teams.
“This is consistent with the punishment we have handed down in numerous other cases in which a brawl took place,” said TSSAA executive director Bernard Childress. “We appreciate administrators from both schools taking full responsibility for what happened and recommending several self-imposed penalties. But while we have accepted those recommendations, our board has also determined to uphold the postseason ban for both.”
Austin-East was a favorite to reach the Class AA sectional along with Knox Fulton. Those teams typically stand in the way of the Region 1 champion and runner-up.
The TSSAA state individual wrestling tournament begins Thursday and runs through Saturday at the Williamson County Agricultural Center in Franklin. The Class AAA and Class A-AA events will run concurrently, with championship matches scheduled for Saturday.
Science Hill will load up the bus with seven regional champions and four runners-up as the Hilltoppers seek deep runs into the tournament. Leading the way are state-title hopefuls Luke Story (138 pounds) and Chase Diehl (160). Other Science Hill region champions headed to Franklin are Braxton Mann (113), Tyler Seeley (120), Jim Kalogeros (182), Weston Brown (195) and Denzel Medina (220).
Dobyns-Bennett region champs in the state mix are Brennan Watkins (106) and Brenton Sayers (285).
In the Class A-AA ranks, three local region champs are in the brackets. Leading the way is Sullivan East’s Elijah Hicks. He won his third consecutive region title Saturday in Pigeon Forge. Hicks finished as state runner-up in 2016 and took third place last year.
Others region champions were Sullivan East’s Kaleb Bare (285) and Elizabethton’s Hunter Morrell (106).
University High’s Cas Blevins made it official with Emory & Henry. He signed recently to play baseball. …
Two Sullivan East standouts made their college choices last week. Signing were Sierra Arnold (volleyball, University of the Cumberlands) and Ethan Mays (golf, Milligan).