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Region tournaments promise hope, eliminations

Douglas Fritz • Updated Feb 22, 2018 at 6:07 PM

Elimination rounds are here, so high school basketball is taking it up a notch.

The region tournaments begin Friday with girls quarterfinal action, followed Saturday by the boys. All of those games begin at 7 p.m. and are at the home sites of the higher-seeded teams.

Semifinal and championship rounds are scheduled for central locations, and teams that reach the finals earn a berth in the sectional round, where a trip to Murfreesboro will be on the line.

Here’s a look at who’s favored in each of the six Region 1 events:

1-AAA

It looks like a very competitive tournament, right from the start.

Dobyns-Bennett would be the logical choice as favorite, but Jefferson County owns five victories this season over the two No. 1 seeds. The Patriots beat the District 1 champion Indians twice and topped Morristown East three times before losing to the Hurricanes in the District 2 finals. Plus the semifinals and finals are on Jeff County’s home court.

Therefore, the Patriots get the unorthodox nod as the team to beat despite being a No. 2 seed.

Favorite: Jefferson County

Predicted winner: Dobyns-Bennett

Darkhorse: Science Hill

Semifinals/Finals: At Dandridge

1-AA

District 2 champ Grainger played a good schedule and is hot coming in, having won 11 of its last 12 games.

But this is a tournament without a big dog. Or maybe better said it’s a tournament with a lot of mid-sized dogs willing to bite their way to the sectional. It’s reasonable to make a case for five teams having a legitimate shot to reach the finals.

Favorite: Grainger

Predicted winner: Unicoi County

Darkhorse: Johnson County

Semifinals/Finals: At Chuckey-Doak

1-A

Greenback’s surprising run to the District 2 championship may have opened the door for some, and blocked the path for others.

Hampton and North Greene find Cosby — which hadn’t lost to a Class A team all season before the loss to Greenback on Tuesday — on their side of the bracket.

Meanwhile, a less-troublesome path may be ahead for Sullivan North while University High can still dream big.

Favorite: Cosby

Predicted winner: Cosby

Darkhorse: Sullivan North

Semifinals/Finals: At Cocke County

1-AAA girls

Somebody isn’t going home very happy.

A trio of landlocked powers — Daniel Boone, Morristown West and Science Hill — all reside on the same side of the bracket. That means only one of them can earn a berth in the sectional tournament.

West was upset by Jeff County in the District 2 final. Science Hill was upset by Dobyns-Bennett in the District 1 semifinals. Boone held serve and won the District 1 title.

The Lady Trailblazers are still favored — but barring a quarterfinal upset, that semifinal promises to be a doozy.

Favorite: Daniel Boone

Predicted winner: Daniel Boone

Darkhorse: Dobyns-Bennett

1-AA girls

It wasn’t a banner year for District 1 teams, but Sullivan Central emerged as the cream of the crop.

Unfortunately for the area bunch, District 2 was loaded at the top. How tough is it likely to be? Consider this: Central went 0-5 against Grainger, Chuckey-Doak, and Greeneville — and none of those teams can really hold a candle to South Greene.

Because of the matchups, it is conceivable for District 1 teams to get swept in Friday’s quarterfinals.

Favorite: South Greene

Predicted winner: South Greene

Darkhorse: Grainger

1-A girls

North Greene won the District 1 title, and the local teams appear to have the edge over District 2 squads. How big of an edge will be determined by Cloudland traveling to meet Greenback, and Hampton visiting Cosby.

This tournament is fairly wide open with any of six teams having a legitimate shot to reach the finals.

Favorite: North Greene

Predicted winner: Unaka

Darkhorse: Cloudland

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