NET-less state tourney first in three-plus decades

Douglas Fritz • Mar 18, 2013 at 7:09 PM

Tennessee tilted slightly to the left as the state basketball championships took place in Murfreesboro last week.

And Northeast Tennessee was left in the dark for the first time in over three decades.

West Tennessee dominated the tournaments with Nashville's Christ Presbyterian Academy the eastern-most team in the finals. CPA won the Class AA championship, pounding Jackson South Side in the title game.

Southwind beat Dyer County, giving the Memphis area 13 of the last 14 Class AAA state titles. And in Class A, Humboldt edged Lake County.

Meanwhile, no Northeast Tennessee team reached the quarterfinals for the first time since 1979 — which had been the only only year in the three-classification era that NET failed to have a team reach the state tournament.

It had been a rich tradition for NET, often sending multiple teams to Murfreesboro, where the state tournament has been held every year since 1989.

Here are the teams who reached the quarterfinals in the previous 15 years:

Year Team Class

2012 Science Hill AAA

Cloudland A

2011 Hampton, Cloudland A

2010 Dobyns-Bennett AAA

2009 Science Hill AAA

Cloudland A

2008 Dobyns-Bennett AAA

University High A

2007 Cloudland A

2006 Greeneville AAA

Cloudland A

2005 Tennessee High AAA

Sullivan Central AA

Unaka A

2004 Dobyns-Bennett AAA

Unaka A

2003 D-B, Greeneville AAA

Elizabethton AA

University High A

2002 Science Hill AAA

Unaka A

2001 TN High, Greeneville AAA

2000 Science Hill AAA

1999 Science Hill AAA

Daniel Boone AA

1998 Science Hill, TN High AAA

Science Hill provided a safety net for Northeast Tennessee from 1993-2000, reaching the tournament eight straight years. The Hilltoppers also made appearances in 1990 and 1991 along with 1987 and 1988.

Dobyns-Bennett filled in the gaps, reaching in 1989 and 1992.

Unicoi County made it to the Class AA tournament in 1986 and 1985. Unaka (Class A) and Tennessee High (AAA) joined the Blue Devils in 1985.

University High (Class A), Johnson County (AA) and Sullivan Central (Class AAA) all made the field in 1984.

Elizabethton reached the Class AAA state event in 1983, Science Hill was there in 1982, and Dobyns-Bennett turned the trick in 1981. Hampton kept things afloat in 1980.

Prior to the whiff in 1979, Tennessee High reached in 1978, Lynn View earned a Class AA trip in 1977, and Dobyns-Bennett and Science Hill both made the field in 1976.

So March 4, 2013, will be remembered as “Black Monday” for Northeast Tennessee. Five area teams were turned away, each of them losing by single-digit margins.

Both Science Hill (five points in the final minute) and Elizabethton (20 points in the fourth quarter) wasted leads and fell a point short.

Hampton lost by six points, Cloudland lost by four, and Sullivan East was defeated by six. Add it up, and Northeast Tennessee lost five games by a total of 18 points.

In one way, it shows the area gave itself a fighting chance. And perhaps the boys teams haven't lost their footing at the state level.

However, all five of those teams had seniors playing major roles. Science Hill always seems to reload and threaten the doors of Murphy Center, but each of those teams lost a bunch of points from the lineup.

It's time for a major regroup for Northeast Tennessee boys basketball, and a return to The 'Boro.

— — —

The Fellowship of Christian Athletes all-star basketball game will be held Saturday at Sullivan Central in Blountville.

This will be the fifth annual Virginia versus Tennessee All-Star Senior Challenge. The girls game will tipoff at 5:30 p.m. while the boys will play at 7:30.

The Tennessee girls' roster includes Elizabethton's Reazyn DeMoss and Whitney Roberts, Unicoi County's Emily Edwards, Science Hill's Shae Smith, Daniel Boone's Jenny Snyder, and Cloudland's Brooke Rhodes.

Sullivan East's John Dyer and Tennessee High's Roby Witcher will coach the boys' squad while Sullivan Central's Gary Surcey and Tennessee High's Barry Wade will coach the girls' team.

There will also be a 3-point contest for each game, and a slam-dunk contest for the boys.

— — —

Prep signings: Elizabethton's Will Robinson made his college choice Monday, and he kept it in the family.

The Cyclones' senior forward signed to play basketball at Milligan College, where his dad, Bill, is the head coach.

Elizabethton head coach Lucas Honeycutt said Robinson is a coaches' dream.

“He does everything right,” said Honeycutt. “Anything you change on the fly, he's ready for it. He can guard multiple spots on the floor. He can play inside or step out on the wing. He makes the big hustle plays, takes charges and passes well.”

— — —

Girls wrestling: Science Hill captured a championship in the recent TSSAA State Girls Invitational in Franklin.

The Hilltoppers had 132 points, easily outdistancing Pigeon Forge's total of 73. Science Hill earned one individual title with Morgan Kite's victory at 165 pounds.

Elizabethton's Clarissa Ceffalo won her third state title, beating Science Hill's Olivia Cannon in the finals. And Science Hill's Gillian Garman-Davis reached the 148-pound finals.

Sam Hammonds of Sullivan South won the 125-pound title.

— — —

Baseball games of the week — (Today) Sullivan South at Dobyns-Bennett, Unicoi County at Elizabethton, (Wednesday) Sullivan East at Elizabethton, (Saturday) Murfreesboro Siegel at Science Hill.

Elizabethton faces a serious Three Rivers Conference challenge with Unicoi and East on back-to-back days. …

South and D-B have their sights set on being the team that pushes Science Hill out of the top spot.

— — —

Unicoi County is at the head of the class in the first Prep Top 10 baseball rankings of the season:

Team W-L

1. Unicoi County 3-0

2. Dobyns-Bennett 3-0

3. Sullivan South 2-1

4. Science Hill 2-2

5. Elizabethton 3-3

6. Daniel Boone 2-3

7. Tennessee High 2-0

8. Sullivan East 0-1

9. University High 3-0

10. Johnson County 1-2

— — —

Softball games of the week — (Today) Science Hill at Dobyns-Bennett, David Crockett at Volunteer, (Thursday) Daniel Boone at Science Hill, Happy Valley at Unicoi County, Unaka at University High.

The Hilltoppers will know a lot about themselves after a pair of major Big Eight Conference challenges this week. …

Happy Valley will see where it stands in the Three Rivers picture after facing the Lady Blue Devils.

— — —

Daniel Boone gets the early nod at the top in the first softball rankings of the season:

Team W-L

1. Daniel Boone 2-0

2. Unicoi County 2-0

3. Dobyns-Bennett 6-1

4. Greeneville 2-0

5. Elizabethton 2-0

6. Science Hill 2-6

7. Volunteer 0-0

8. David Crockett 0-1

9. Happy Valley 2-0

10. University High 1-1

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