Sometimes it’s hard not to laugh at the TSSAA.
Here is the organization’s solution to an embarrassment a couple of months ago, where it left a qualifying Sullivan South team out of the football playoffs: Let’s anticipate messing up the football playoff bracket, and make a rule that gives schools only five hours to catch any errors. If they don’t spot the mistake — and make an appeal within the five-hour window — they are out of luck. Furthermore, we will announce the brackets but not make them official — until the five-hour “oops! window” has passed. Then, and only then, will the brackets be official.
At last week’s Board of Control meeting, the TSSAA announced it will release the football playoff brackets at 11 a.m. (EST) on the Saturday preceding the first round of the playoffs. Schools have until 4 p.m. to appeal if an error is suspected. The appeal, says the new TSSAA rule, must include the nature of the suspected error. (Does that mean a school cannot appeal an error without telling the TSSAA what the error is? So for all the silly little schools across the state that were planning to make an anonymous appeal, the TSSAA is having none of that business).
If no appeal is turned in by 4 p.m., the bracket becomes final. No word on what happens if someone does make an appeal. There is apparently no deadline on the TSSAA to rectify the situation.
Also, the TSSAA changed the wording of what games count toward opponents’ records for tiebreaker purposes. Previously the handbook stated: “In the event of a tie for a championship, second place, or qualifier, should one of the team’s opponents play 11 games, only the first 10 games played shall be counted.”
Now it reads, “In the event of a tie for a championship, second place, or qualifier, all opponents’ varsity games played through TSSAA Week 10 will be counted.”
The new language would have doomed Sullivan South this year, which made the Class 5A playoffs because the 11th game for Enka, N.C., didn’t count. Enka remained a .500 team — in the TSSAA eyes — with an overall record of 5-6.
Also, the TSSAA voted to increase the crews for football playoff games from five to seven. This begins with the quarterfinal round, and the cost will be paid from the percentage of gate receipts received by the association.
The move adds two more officials on the field. They will be in the position of side judges, approximately 15 yards from the line of scrimmage on the defensive side.
Elizabethton guard Morgan Depew suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in the first quarter of Friday’s win over Happy Valley at Bayless Gym.
The 5-foot-5 senior went down with the non-contact injury and was helped off the court using a teammate’s crutches. She received the diagnosis Monday.
Depew will likely miss the remainder of the season, but the typical ACL recovery time should allow her to be ready for her freshman season at Tusculum College. Depew recently signed with the Lady Pioneers.
It’s a tough blow for the Lady Cyclones, who were already down a starter (Lauren McCurry) and a key reserve (Caley Hodge). Coach Len Dugger has a deep team — including some talented freshmen — but will miss the scoring, ballhandling, leadership and clutch play of Depew.
Elizabethton is in first place in the Three Rivers Conference with a record of 4-0. The Lady Cyclones are 15-3 overall, and will play at Johnson County on Friday.
Swimming update: It’s postseason time for area competitors with the Northeast Tennessee Regional Swimming and Diving Championships on tap for this weekend at the Tennessee High pool in Bristol.
The diving portion of the meet is scheduled for Friday with competition starting at 5:45 p.m. The swimming preliminaries and championships are scheduled for Saturday with the finals starting at 5:45 p.m.
The state meet is slated for Feb. 8-9 in Knoxville.
Boys basketball games of the week — (Today) Tennessee High at Daniel Boone, Unicoi County at Johnson County, Sullivan North at Elizabethton, (Friday) Science Hill at Tennessee High, Daniel Boone at Sullivan South, Unicoi County at Sullivan East, Elizabethton at Johnson County, Cloudland at Hampton.
Daniel Boone surely remembers blowing a big lead on its home court in a 69-66 overtime loss to Sullivan South on Dec. 4. …
Cloudland could take a giant step toward a Watauga Valley Conference title with a road win.
Boys player of the week — Ryan Gaitor of Daniel Boone.
The senior guard cut loose for 50 points, helping his team record a pair of victories.
Gaitor had 28 points in Tuesday’s 68-59 decision against county rival David Crockett. He followed that up with 22 points in Friday’s 73-47 victory over Sullivan Central.
Boys pick of the week — Daniel Boone 59, Tennessee High 57.
The Trailblazers have won nine of their last 10 games with the only loss coming at Science Hill. Confidence and home-court advantage should help in this one.
Picks record: 5-0.
There is very little change from last week’s boys Prep Top 10. However, Unicoi County uses a four-game winning streak to get back into the conversation.
Team W-L Prv
1. Science Hill 23-2 1
2. Sullivan East 17-6 2
3. Elizabethton 13-5 3
4. Dobyns-Bennett 13-4 4
5. Daniel Boone 14-6 5
6. Cloudland 13-5 6
7. Greeneville 14-7 7
8. Sullivan South 10-9 8
9. Tennessee High 13-8 9
10. University High 12-6 10
(tie) Unicoi County 8-10 nr
Girls basketball games of the week — (Today) Sullivan South at Science Hill, Tennessee High at Daniel Boone, Sullivan East at Happy Valley, (Friday) Science Hill at Tennessee High, Daniel Boone at Sullivan South, Unicoi County at Sullivan East, Unaka at North Greene, Cloudland at Hampton.
The Lady Trailblazers have a chance to make a little Big Eight Conference noise, but the tasks at hand are difficult. …
Sullivan East will find out this week whether it belongs in the upper or lower half of the Three Rivers Conference.
Girls player of the week — Ashlee Mitchell of Tennessee High.
The Lady Vikings’ standout, who has signed with Virginia Commonwealth, totaled 48 points in a pair of victories.
Mitchell had 32 points, four rebounds, four steals and four assists in a 67-50 win over Dobyns-Bennett on Tuesday. She came back on Friday with 16 points, six steals, five rebounds and four assists in a 70-33 whipping of Volunteer.
Girls pick of the week — Science Hill 66, Tennessee High 54.
It will likely be much more competitive than the 37-point blistering in early December, but the Lady Hilltoppers should still put together a solid victory.
Picks record: 5-0.
Dobyns-Bennett, South and Volunteer mix things up in the middle of the pack in this week’s girls rankings:
Team W-L Prv
1. Science Hill 17-2 1
2. Elizabethton 15-3 2
3. Tennessee High 15-3 3
4. Hampton 16-4 4
5. South Greene 15-6 5
6. Dobyns-Bennett 13-6 8
7. Sullivan South 13-6 6
8. Volunteer 14-9 7
9. Unicoi County 10-7 10
10. Cloudland 10-9 nr