State basketball rankings are good conversation pieces, and they do tell a story — although the conclusion isn't revealed until it's settled on the court.
Since the issue is eventually resolved face to face in Murfreesboro, it's better for rankings to produce a picture of the entire state instead of trying to cram a bunch of really good teams from one area into the poll.
After all, no matter how good one area claims to be — and no matter how easily a team from that area might win the state championship — nobody will ever be able to prove on the court that the third- or fourth-best team from a region is better than a state tournament team from another area.
The Johnson City Press has long been a proponent for ranking teams based not only on their perceived ability to win a state title, but also taking into consideration their ability to get to Murfreesboro.
Therefore, it wouldn't matter if eight Memphis boys teams were ranked in the top 10 nationally. They won't get ranked one through eight by the Press in the state poll because only a maximum of two will be dancing to the 'Boro.
Occasionally the Press will toss a third or fourth Memphis team into the rankings in a given week just to acknowledge the obvious strength of District 16 year in and year out — and there are two “free spots” in the top 10 with only eight teams earning berths to the state tournament. The same thing goes for Region 4 in Class AAA girls.
Still, the champion from even the perceived weakest region gets to Murfreesboro ahead of the third-best team from the perceived strongest region.
Our little corner of the state houses a Class AAA district that isn't getting a lot of respect statewide this year. However, there's still a potential seam to the 'Boro for the Big Seven Conference.
District 2 has Jefferson County, District 3 has Oak Ridge, and District 4 has Maryville. Oak Ridge is the real deal, and Jeff County is certainly looking like it.
It's no easy road, but Science Hill has held serve at every turn in its league, and the Hilltoppers were within 10 points of Oak Ridge earlier this season.
Science Hill (16-6 overall) has won enough games to earn the No. 10 spot from the Johnson City Press vote in this week's Associated Press state poll.
In Class AA, Unicoi County has regrouped and earned the No. 9 spot in the Press vote. In Class A, Hampton was moved up to the No. 5 position.
On the girls' side, Science Hill took advantage of Murfreesboro Riverdale's loss to Blackman. Yes, it was just by one point, but it was Riverdale's second in-state loss in four games — so undefeated Science Hill slides up to No. 2 behind nationally ranked Blackman.
In Class AA, Elizabethton received the Press' No. 1 vote. So much for respect, however.
When the polls were released, the Lady Cyclones dropped to No. 2 despite beating Sullivan South by 36 points in a battle of undefeated league teams while new No. 1 Grainger beat a 9-7 team by 11 points and a one-win team.
In Class A, South Greene was voted No. 9 by the Press and Cloudland was No. 10.
To see where all of the aforementioned teams stand in the statewide rankings, please see the scoreboard page.
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Follow Douglas Fritz on Twitter @FritzBlitzzz.
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Points of interest: Science Hill's girls improved their ranking as the best defense-offense combination in the state.
The Lady Hilltoppers are 10th offensively in the state with 64.7 points per game, and sixth in defense by allowing 35.0 a contest. The combination total of 16 is well ahead of Dyer County, which is seventh in offense and 14th in defense for a total of 21.
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Boys basketball games of the week: (Today) Tennessee High at Science Hill, Daniel Boone at David Crockett, South Greene at Hampton; (Friday) Science Hill at Dobyns-Bennett, Hampton at Cloudland; (Saturday) Sullivan South at Unicoi County.
Let's face it folks: For Tennessee High and D-B, the games against Science Hill are must-win situations. The Hilltoppers could emerge from the week with a three-game lead in the Big Seven Conference and hold two wins over its biggest challengers. That's lights out for the league title, and the only suspense remaining would be the Hilltoppers' conference winning streak — which has stretched to 60 games. …
Hampton can't wrap up the Watauga Valley Conference title this week, but the Bulldogs can take two giant steps toward it. With wins over South Greene and Cloudland, Hampton would have a three-game lead over the field with five games to go. …
Unicoi County could have a chance to catch the Rebels in the Three Rivers Conference standings in the weekend showdown.
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Boys player of the week — Connor Simpson of Unicoi County.
In a pair of victories, the Blue Devils' senior post player totaled 51 points and 23 rebounds.
Simpson had 21 points and 11 rebounds in Friday's 73-47 win over Johnson County. He came back to knock down 30 points and grab 12 rebounds in Saturday's 67-62 conquest of David Crockett.
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Boys pick of the week — Unicoi County 59, Sullivan South 57.
The Rebels are pesky and do a lot of things well, but the Blue Devils are figuring some things out lately. And beating the Blue Devils in Erwin is always a difficult proposition.
Picks record: 2-2.
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Unicoi County and Hampton bounced past Tennessee High in this week's Prep Top 10.
Team W-L Prv
1. Science Hill 16-6 1
2. Hampton 16-2 3
3. Unicoi County 16-4 4
4. Tennessee High 14-5 2
5. David Crockett 14-8 5
6. Dobyns-Bennett 7-8 6
7. Sullivan South 9-7 8
8. Elizabethton 13-6 7
9. Daniel Boone 12-9 10
10. Johnson County 7-8 9
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This Week in Prep History: January 14, 1992.
Science Hill's girls got ranked for the first time in school history, but blew a 15-point lead and lost later that same day.
Kelly Stewart's 3-pointer put the game into overtime, and Laura Calfee banked in a 10-footer at the buzzer to lift Sullivan East to a 70-69 victory.
Roscelle Bullock had 25 points for the Lady Hilltoppers while Lea Simpson added 23. Calfee finished with 24 points and 16 rebounds.
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Girls basketball games of the week: (Today) Tennessee High at Science Hill, Elizabethton at Happy Valley, South Greene at Hampton; (Friday) Science Hill at Dobyns-Bennett, Daniel Boone at Volunteer; Happy Valley at Unicoi County, Sullivan East at Sullivan South, Hampton at Cloudland; (Saturday) Sullivan South at Unicoi County.
Science Hill has a chance to completely erase a pair of rivals from the Big Seven title chase. …
The Lady Trailblazers and Falcons will fight it out for second place. ...
Hampton faces its biggest challenge week of the season. …
Unicoi County has a chance to move back up the ladder in the Three Rivers.
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Girls player of the week — Destinie Hayes.
It was Unicoi's destiny for a post player to shine.
The Blue Devils' junior rebounded everything in sight for two straight nights. Hayes had a pair of double-doubles with 12 points and 22 rebounds in Friday's 51-42 over Johnson County.
She came back with 11 points and 24 rebounds in Saturday's 61-50 victory over David Crockett.
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Girls pick of the week — Cloudland 52, Hampton 49.
The Lady Highlanders backed themselves into a corner with a pair of league losses early, but are still tough to beat on their home court.
Picks record: 4-0.
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Cloudland took advantage of Daniel Boone's slip against Dobyns-Bennett and moved back into the No. 3 spot in this week's girls rankings.
Team W-L Prv
1. Science Hill 21-0 1
2. Elizabethton 14-3 2
3. Cloudland 17-3 4
4. Daniel Boone 14-7 3
5. Sullivan East 17-5 6
6. South Greene 15-6 7
7. Sullivan South 10-7 5
8. Hampton 13-7 8
9. North Greene 12-9 10
10. Volunteer 17-5 9