It may be hard to believe, as we are still in January, but the District 1-AAA basketball tournament is less than two weeks away.
Action begins Feb. 11 at Daniel Boone’s Snyder Gymnasium in Gray.
The early start for the Big Eight Conference postseason event is necessitated because of having 16 teams, eight girls and eight boys.
And even though the tournament is right around the corner, nothing is settled seeding-wise. Things are still up for grabs on the boys’ side with Science Hill (10-0 in league play) trying to hold off rival Dobyns-Bennett (9-1).
Sullivan South, Daniel Boone and Tennessee High are in the mix for the next three spots while David Crockett, Sullivan Central and Volunteer are fighting to avoid a first-round elimination matchup against D-B or Science Hill — the likely opponents for the No. 7 and No. 8 finishers.
On the girls’ side, Science Hill (10-0) has a comfortable two-game lead over Tennessee High (8-2) — and two wins over the Lady Vikings.
D-B (7-3) still has a shot at the No. 2 spot while South, Boone and Volunteer are battling for the 4-5 positions.
Central and Crockett appeared to be locked into the last two spots with each trying to avoid a first-round game against state-level power Science Hill.
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Science Hill didn’t get a favorable draw, but the Hilltoppers’ wrestlers are headed to the state duals with enthusiasm and confidence.
“The kids accept the challenge,” said assistant coach Jimmy Miller. “But it will take a momentous effort for us to win. We will have to wrestle our best match of the year.”
The Hilltoppers will wrestle defending Class AAA state champion Soddy Daisy in Friday’s round of 16 at the Williamson County Expo Center in Franklin. The match is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. (EST).
Saturday’s championship match is slated for 8 p.m.
Science Hill enters the state event on the high of a Region 1-AAA championship victory over rival Dobyns-Bennett. Despite losing captain Max Vaughn to an injury in the semifinals, the Hilltoppers regrouped and beat the Indians 35-30.
“We could have folded, but we circled the wagons and the young kids responded,” said Miller. “They picked up the slack in several places, and we made up that six points we would have gotten from Max. We had kids win matches they had lost against the same kid just two days earlier against D-B.”
Vaughn is expected to be ready for the state duals, and the 132-pound junior carries an individual record of 47-4 into the tournament.
Science Hill, which is 29-9 in dual matches this season, should also have a good chance for points against Soddy from 113-pound junior Gary Hudgins, and 145-pound junior Austin Bagley.
“With those three kids we can line up against anybody in the state, and they give us a chance to win,” said Miller.
Soddy is ranked No. 4 in the state while Science Hill is unranked. Miller said a top-six finish is within reach for the youthful Hilltoppers, and a top-four performance is not out of the question.
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Greeneville senior Caleb Nunn finished sixth in the state bowling tournament over the weekend in Smyrna. His total pinfall of 2,657 fell short of champion Kamron Doyle of Brentwood. Doyle, a freshman, had a pinfall of 3,293, over 300 better than the second-place finisher.
Columbia won the boys’ team title while York Institute captured the girls’ crown.
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Boys basketball games of the week — (Today) Science Hill at Daniel Boone, Sullivan South at Tennessee High, Elizabethton at Hampton, Cloudland at University High, (Friday) Dobyns-Bennett at Sullivan South, Unaka at Hampton.
The Hilltoppers get back on the court after a week off, and face a rival. …
University High will get a chance to prove the Highlanders are not 27 points better. …
After a two-point win at home, can Unaka make it a sweep over the Bulldogs?
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Boys player of the week — David Casaday of Sullivan East.
The Patriots’ senior guard proved his worth in a pair of tight Three Rivers Conference victories.
Casaday totaled 17 points as East held off Sullivan North 53-49 on Tuesday. Then on Saturday, Casaday had 11 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter, helping his team erase a 17-point deficit and defeat Elizabethton, 54-52.
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Boys pick of the week — Science Hill 74, Daniel Boone 63.
This one should be close deep into the contest, but the Hilltoppers have the horses to pull away late.
Picks record: 6-0.
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Dobyns-Bennett takes advantage of Elizabethton’s tough loss to Sullivan East, scraping its way past the Cyclones into the No. 3 spot in this week’s Prep Top 10.
Team W-L Prv
1. Science Hill 26-2 1
2. Sullivan East 21-6 2
3. Dobyns-Bennett 17-4 4
4. Elizabethton 15-6 3
5. Daniel Boone 17-7 5
6. Greeneville 17-8 6
7. Tennessee High 15-10 7
8. Hampton 14-7 8
9. Cloudland 15-8 9
10. University High 15-6 10
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Girls basketball games of the week — (Today) Sullivan South at Tennessee High, Elizabethton at Hampton, (Friday) Dobyns-Bennett at Sullivan South, Happy Valley at Elizabethton, Unaka at Hampton, North Greene at Cloudland.
Elizabethton and Hampton should have quite a battle after a fairly close contest earlier this season. …
Cloudland hasn’t been clipped in league play while the Lady Huskies are trying to stay out of the No. 4 spot in the Watauga Valley Conference.
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Girls player of the week — Brooke Rhodes of Cloudland.
The Lady Highlanders’ senior post totaled 41 points as Cloudland picked up a pair of victories.
Rhodes’ most impressive performance came Thursday against South Greene. She finished with 21 points and 17 rebounds in the 55-50 win.
On Tuesday, Rhodes totaled 20 points in a 65-32 victory over Providence Academy.
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Girls pick of the week — Cloudland 52, North Greene 50.
The Lady Highlanders are on a roll with eight straight wins, and have home-court advantage. But this should still be a tough, tight contest.
Picks record: 7-0.
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Unicoi County uses it win over Elizabethton to jump two spots in this week’s girls rankings. Cloudland’s victory over South Greene allows the Lady Highlanders to move up a pair of positions.
Team W-L Prv
1. Science Hill 21-3 1
2. Elizabethton 18-4 2
3. Tennessee High 18-4 3
4. Hampton 18-5 5
5. Unicoi County 13-7 7
6. Dobyns-Bennett 17-6 6
7. Cloudland 14-9 9
8. South Greene 17-7 4
9. Sullivan South 14-7 8
10. North Greene 18-7 nr