Crucial games this week in league races

Douglas Fritz • Jan 6, 2014 at 8:08 PM

Plenty of opinions have been expressed about how things will go in the chase for area basketball championships.Now it's time to let the action on the court do the talking.Much more will be known about the Big Seven Conference and Three Rivers title chases after several important games get played this week.Here's a game-by-game look at today's matchups that figure to greatly impact league title races:David Crockett at Science Hill — It's hard to imagine what it will be like for Pioneers' coach John Good to walk into the 'Topper Palace, this time as the “enemy.” It could also be a challenging experience for Pioneers' point guard Patrick Good. Both were part of Science Hill's 37-3 record last season.From a matchup standpoint, if the Hilltoppers are dialed in from trey country, it's going to be tough for Crockett to win. Already holding two league losses, a three-game deficit would be tough for the Pioneers to overcome.Tennessee High at Daniel Boone — It's important for the Vikings as they try to stay within a game of Science Hill, but it's even more vital for the Trailblazers because it's at home.Johnson County at Elizabethton — This one looks like a good old-fashioned tossup, and the winner will likely be the team that imposes its will on the other. It's not a tempo thing, but rather answers will be found in the paint.Sullivan South at Unicoi County — With the Rebels standing as the only unbeaten team in the Three Rivers, someone has to prove they don't belong there. A win by South in Erwin would certainly go a long way toward a title.After a 10-0 start, Unicoi has lost, won, lost, won, lost, won, lost, won.The Three Rivers games will have a major impact on the desperation teams could feel Friday as Elizabethton visits South, and Johnson County hits the road to play Unicoi County.— — —Which teams are considered the best in the state? The first rankings of the 2013-14 season were released Monday by the Associated Press.Getting No. 1 votes on the boys' side from the Johnson City Press were Memphis White Station in Class AAA, Nashville Christ Presbyterian Academy in Class AA, and Humboldt in Class A.Hampton (No. 8 in Class A) was the only local team getting a vote from the Press.On the girls' side, the top spots from the Press went to Murfreesboro Blackman in Class AAA, Elizabethton in Class AA, and Union City in Class A.Other local votes went to Science Hill (No. 3 in Class AAA), South Greene (No. 8 in Class A) and Cloudland (No. 9 in Class A).For a look at the way sports writers across the state voted on things, please see the scoreboard page.— — —Tennessee High's record-setting wide receiver Adam Mitchell has made his college choice, and East Tennessee State University came out on top.Mitchell, who recently committed to play for the Buccaneers, set school records with the Vikings in career catches (150), yards (2,261) and touchdowns (29).— — —Points of interest: Science Hill's girls basketball team ranks 12th in the state in scoring with 63.7 points per game, and in No. 8 in scoring defense with 35.9 per contest.The combination is tied for the best in the state with Dyer County, which ranks No. 8 in offense (65.3) and No. 12 in defense (36.8). …Knox Fulton's total of 862 points for the football season was the fifth highest in the history of the nation.The top spot is held by Aledo, Texas, which rang up 1,023 points in 16 games this season. The previous record was 903 by Albemarle, N.C., in 2001, also in 16 gamesRefugio, Texas, scored 891 in 2011 in 15 games while Bloomington, Calif., had 880 in 1994 in 14 games.— — —Follow Douglas Fritz on Twitter @FritzBlitzzz.— — —David Crockett football standout Luke Hopson has been invited to participate in the Tennessee-Kentucky Border Bowl VII.The game will be played Saturday at the University of the Cumberlands in Williamsburg, Ky., at 12:30 p.m.Hopson was the Pioneers' leading receiver this season.Also on the Tennessee roster is Greeneville defensive lineman Jake Sell.— — —Boys basketball games of the week: (Today) David Crockett at Science Hill, Tennessee High at Daniel Boone, Johnson County at Elizabethton, Sullivan South at Unicoi County; (Friday) Daniel Boone at Dobyns-Bennett, Elizabethton at Sullivan South, Johnson County at Unicoi County, (Saturday) Unicoi County at David Crockett.Standing the shadows somewhat with a record of 11-8, the Trailblazers have shown enough fight to be a dangerous team. If they are going to be in the mix near the top of the Big Seven, they need a really good effort this week.— — —Boys player of the week — Gavin Grubb of Sullivan East.Just a freshman, the point guard is already making a name for himself.Grubb fired in 30 points as the Patriots held off Chuckey-Doak 62-51 on Friday.Grubb came back with a 14-point effort, and two game-clinching free throws, in Saturday's 68-64 victory over Providence Academy.— — —Boys pick of the week — Science Hill 69, David Crockett 62.Look for the Pioneers to stay within striking distance, but the Hilltoppers have the ability to come at them from too many different directions to adequately defend for 32 minutes.Picks record: 1-2.— — —It has been a rugged year for area teams with Hampton the only one finding real consistency. The Bulldogs carry a 14-game winning streak, and muscle their way up three spots to No. 3 in this week's Prep Top 10.Team W-L Prv1. Science Hill 14-6 12. Tennessee High 12-4 33. Hampton 15-2 64. Unicoi County 14-4 25. David Crockett 13-6 56. Dobyns-Bennett 6-8 47. Elizabethton 13-5 98. Sullivan South 8-7 79. Johnson County 7-7 810. Daniel Boone 11-8 10— — —Girls basketball games of the week: (Today) Tennessee High at Daniel Boone, Sullivan South at Unicoi County, Happy Valley at Sullivan East, (Friday) Science Hill at Volunteer, Daniel Boone at Dobyns-Bennett, Elizabethton at Sullivan South, North Greene at Hampton.Coaches don't like for their players to look ahead, but Friday's battle in Kingsport between Elizabethton and Sullivan South will give somebody a big step toward the Three Rivers title.The Rebels are reeling with four straight losses, but it has come against good competition. A win Tuesday in Erwin is almost a prerequisite for Friday's game. …Daniel Boone has a chance to establish itself this week as the legitimate second-best team in the Big Seven Conference.— — —Girls player of the week — Tianna Tarter of Science Hill.The Hilltoppers' senior point guard was 32 minutes of trouble for Elizabethton on Friday.Tarter finished with 26 points, six assists, five rebounds and two steals in the 65-52 victory.— — —Girls pick of the week — Elizabethton 57, Sullivan South 47.The Rebels have scored some points this season, but the Cyclones can defend the basket — and score on the other end, too.Picks record: 3-0.— — —Daniel Boone takes a big holiday leap, up three spots to No. 3 in this week's girls rankings.Team W-L Prv1. Science Hill 19-0 12. Elizabethton 13-3 23. Daniel Boone 13-6 64. Cloudland 15-3 35. Sullivan South 10-6 46. Sullivan East 15-5 57. South Greene 14-5 88. Hampton 12-6 79. Volunteer 16-4 910. North Greene 11-8 10Douglas Fritz is a sports writer for the Johnson City Press. Contact him at dfritz@johnsoncitypress.com

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