Here’s a brief look at what wasn’t, historically speaking, one of the better seasons for boys and girls basketball in this area.
Of the six teams involved in the boys state championship contests, only Knox Fulton was located east of Nashville. Four of the teams were from the Memphis area with East (Class AAA) and Hamilton (Class AA) earning titles.
Loretto, located in south middle Tennessee near the Alabama state line, earned the Class A championship by beating Memphis Douglass — which knocked off North Greene in the semifinals. The Huskies made a spirited run deep into the postseason, and who knows what would have happened if leading scorer Andy Stevens hadn’t been hurt late in the second quarter of the semifinal contest. The Huskies played nip and tuck with Douglass throughout the first half and even into the late stages of the third quarter.
It wasn’t a happy ending for Dobyns-Bennett and Science Hill, who each found their endgame in the sectional. The Indians couldn’t overcome Science Hill in the Region 1-AAA final, and that left them with little chance on the road against powerful Knox Bearden — which challenged but couldn’t beat East in the state semifinals.
Meanwhile, Science Hill couldn’t make home-court advantage work for a trip to Murfreesboro, losing to Knox Powell.
Unicoi County saw its Class AA state tournament hopes pretty much end with a region final loss to Grainger. The Blue Devils were forced to travel to Knox Fulton, which came within two points of surprising Hamilton in the Class AA final.
And Sullivan North made its deepest postseason penetration with a Class A sectional berth. Can the Raiders carry the momentum into next season?
Basketball has traditionally been very good across the area, but this year it seemed like there was an overall dip in the quality of play. Teams struggled to score and fundamentals were lacking at times.
But out of this mix of below-average play, two very good teams emerged and were able to compete at a state level. Daniel Boone reached the Class AAA state tournament for the first time ever, and Unaka not only reached the Class A event but also won a game in Murfreesboro.
Sullivan Central reached the region semifinals and has a trio of sophomores good enough to make the Lady Cougars a state tournament threat next season.
And Science Hill’s impressive group of young could make the Lady Hilltoppers the area’s best team in 2018-19.
New play clock for football
At its Board of Control meeting last week, the TSSAA voted to approve a 40-second play clock for football beginning with the upcoming season.
The National Federation of High Schools is expected to implement the change for the 2019 season, so Tennessee will get a jumpstart on other states.
As was the case with the 25-second play clock, schools will not be required to have a visible play clock on the field. Officials will control the play clock if one is not visible.
The 40-second clock will start when the ball is ruled dead, and the game clock will roll when the ball is marked ready for play — even for out-of-bounds plays.
Basketball coaching vacancy
After four seasons leading Volunteer’s program, Greg Barnett stepped down as head coach.
The Falcons won 11 games in Barnett’s first season, but have totaled only 16 wins over the last three seasons.
Now in market for a coach, Volunteer will have to find someone willing to take a challenge. It’s a tough job for any coach as the Falcons haven’t won more than three Big Seven Conference games since the 2007-08 season.
Science Hill has played the tougher schedule to date, and the Hilltoppers hold the edge over Dobyns-Bennett at the top of this week’s Baseball Top 10.
Team (W-L) — Prv
1. Science Hill (4-2) — 1
2. Dobyns-Bennett (4-2) — 2
3. Unicoi County (1-0) — 3
4. Tennessee High (5-1) — 6
5. Sullivan East (3-0) — 8
6. Daniel Boone (2-1) — 5
7. Elizabethton (2-2) — 4
8. Sullivan South (2-2) — 7
9. North Greene (0-0) — 10
10. Sullivan Central (3-0) — NR
With its 8-1 win over Elizabethton on Thursday, David Crockett proved itself on the field. So the Lady Pioneers jump all the way to No. 2 in this week’s rankings.
Team (W-L) — Prv
1. Daniel Boone (4-2) — 3
2. David Crockett (2-0) — 6
3. Unicoi County (3-2) — 2
4. Elizabethton (1-1) — 1
5. Science Hill (4-3) — 4
6. Unaka (2-0) — 5
7. Dobyns-Bennett (3-2) — 7
8. Sullivan South (1-1) — 8
9. Sullivan East (1-1) — 9
10. Cherokee (0-2) — 7
(tie) Volunteer (1-0) — NR