Darkhorse title threats across state belie their records

Douglas Fritz • Feb 4, 2020 at 12:00 PM

At this point, it’s easy to see which basketball teams are deep-run threats for the postseason based on their pristine records.

But what about the teams who may be more of a state-title threat than their record indicates?

Here’s a look at some teams across the state that may have more bite than bark despite a handful of setbacks:



Memphis East (17-5)

Throw out the out-of-state defeats to teams from Georgia, Florida and California — along with a recent loss to private Christian school Hamilton Heights — and you have an undefeated Memphis team. Also, the Mustangs have a powerhouse tradition with three straight Class AAA state titles (2016-18) along with a runner-up finish last year.


Memphis Wooddale (19-6)

Two losses came against Memphis East, three were against out-of-state opponents, and the other was to private school, and No. 1-ranked, Lausanne. Wooddale is a major threat to repeat its 2019 title.


Loretto (17-5)

The 2018 state champions have a pair of out-of-state losses and two others against Class AAA teams. They’ve won 12 games in a row with a 10-0 mark in the new year.



Arlington (22-5)

Three of the losses were against out-of-state teams from Kentucky and Texas, and one was against undefeated private-school powerhouse Ensworth. The other was against Christian school power Hamilton Heights.


Nolensville (17-4)

Throw out a pair of Hall of Fame losses, and the Lady Knights’ only in-state loss was against Class AAA power Brentwood.


Gibson County (18-7)

The losses came against undefeated and top-ranked Greenfield, Class AAA power Arlington, No. 1-ranked private school Trinity Christian, and four against Class AA top 10-level teams Dyersburg, Covington and Jackson South Side. The biggest problem for the Lady Pioneers is they are in the same region as Greenfield.


District tournament action is two weeks away, and this year’s area events stretch from Rogersville to Bluff City. In each tournament, the top two regular season finishers get a first-round bye and automatically earn a region berth.

1-AAA — The tournament will be held in its entirety, including “play-in” games at Cherokee. It is scheduled to begin Feb. 17.

1-AA — Sullivan East’s Dyer Dome (tentative start date of Feb. 19 or 20)

1-A — Daniel Boone’s Snyder Gym (tentative start date of Feb. 21)

Region tournaments begin with the girls quarterfinals on Feb. 28 and the boys on Feb. 29 at home sites of the higher seed. The semifinals and finals will move to the following locations:

1-AAA — Morristown East’s Isenberg-Siler Gym

1-AA — Grainger High School in Rutledge

1-A — Walters State Community College in Morristown


The state tournament begins Friday with Dobyns-Bennett and Science Hill both in the Class AAA field.

The Indians will be favored against Maryville in a match set for 4 p.m. (EST) at the Williamson County Expo Center in Franklin.

Science Hill has a much more difficult opening-round opponent, taking on state-title threat Wilson Central at 4 p.m.

The quarterfinals are also Friday while the semifinals and finals are scheduled for Saturday.


Dobyns-Bennett will have several student-athletes signing college deals on Wednesday. Included in the mix are football players Jet Harris (Air Force), Ben McCluskey (Emory & Henry) and Jaden Alderson (Tusculum).

Also scheduled to sign are Jack Perry (ETSU, soccer), Martin Torres (soccer, Milligan), Julianna McReynolds (track, Chattanooga), Grace Allen (track, Milligan) and Kassidy Miller (softball, Lincoln Memorial).


Boys highlight games


Dobyns-Bennett at Daniel Boone

David Crockett at Science Hill

Unicoi County at Elizabethton


Science Hill at Dobyns-Bennett

David Crockett at Daniel Boone

Elizabethton at Sullivan East

David Crockett has taken some big strides in the second half of the season, but the Pioneers’ postseason readiness will likely be shaped by how they perform this week. ...

Science Hill has a chance to lock up the Big Seven Conference title with a pair of wins. ...

Elizabethton has two challenges as it tries to earn at least second place in the Three Rivers Conference.


Coming off a big win over Dobyns-Bennett and riding a four-game winning streak, David Crockett moves up two spots to No. 4 in this week’s rankings.

Team W-L Prv
1. Science Hill 25-2 1
2. Sullivan South 22-3 2
3. Tennessee High 19-8 3
4. David Crockett 16-8 6
5. Hampton 18-8 7
6. Dobyns-Bennett 12-11 4
7. Daniel Boone 13-9 5
8. Elizabethton 9-13 8
9. Sullivan East 13-12 9
10. Unicoi County 13-12 10

Girls highlight games


Dobyns-Bennett at Daniel Boone

David Crockett at Science Hill


Science Hill at Dobyns-Bennett

David Crockett at Daniel Boone

Elizabethton at Sullivan East

The Big Seven Conference title will likely be decided Friday in Kingsport. ...

Daniel Boone still has a chance to forge a tie for second place in the Big Seven, but that journey has to start with a win over D-B.


Sullivan East has won eight of its last nine games and moves up a spot to No. 6 in this week’s rankings.

Team W-L Prv
1. Sullivan Central 22-2 1
2. Science Hill 18-7 2
3. Dobyns-Bennett 20-7 3
4. Daniel Boone 13-9 4
5. Cloudland 19-3 5
6. Sullivan East 17-9 7
7. David Crockett 13-12 6
8. Elizabethton 15-9 8
9. Volunteer 12-12 9
10. Johnson County 14-9 NR
Johnson City Press Videos