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SH boys, girls among state tournament threats

Douglas Fritz • Feb 11, 2020 at 12:00 PM

With district basketball tournaments beginning next week, teams have stated their cases for postseason success.

Proceeding with the understanding that a team or two, here or there, won’t sprout their butterfly wings until late February, here’s a look at how far some of the top area squads might go based on their current bodies of work.

STATE TOURNAMENT THREATS

Science Hill boys

The Hilltoppers likely won’t have an easy time in the district, and adding Sevier County to the mix makes the region even more challenging.

The next level boasts threats like Maryville, Oak Ridge and Bearden. To get to Murfreesboro, Science Hill will have to put together three weeks of its best basketball.

Science Hill girls

The Lady Hilltoppers would be No. 1 in the region if such rankings existed. So they are currently favored to get to the sectional.

But the sectional level is absolutely loaded with Bearden, Maryville, Oak Ridge, Farragut, Heritage and emerging Powell all in the fight. Four of those tough teams won’t make it that far.

Sullivan Central girls

The Lady Cougars’ face a regional threat with Grainger and South Greene potentially standing in the way. If they navigate the region, a sectional battle against Northview Academy, Alcoa, or Gatlinburg-Pittman could be winnable at home or on the road.

Cloudland girls

The Lady Highlanders may need to handle North Greene at both the district and regional levels. A home sectional game against Wartburg, Oneida or Tellico Plains would be a reasonable challenge, but a road win would be tough.

SECTIONAL THREATS

Sullivan South boys

Avoiding Greeneville before the region championship is a good idea. If the Rebels get to the sectional, traditional powerhouse Fulton awaits while Alcoa and Carter also appear to be obstacles.

Dobyns-Bennett boys

The door is open for two 1-AAA teams to reach this round, and the Indians have proven — when they play at their best like they have done twice against Science Hill — they are in the mix.

Hampton boys

Winning the district to potentially stay out of Cosby’s bracket in the region could make it a path of least resistance to the sectional — where threats like Oneida and Harriman await.

TOUGH RECORD

Volunteer’s Dakota Hicks has spent more time on the court — on his back — than any player in Falcons’ history.

The 6-foot-1 senior has taken 35 charges heading into Tuesday’s game against Science Hill.

“It’s pretty amazing,” said Volunteer head coach Mike Poe. “It’s good to have someone to anchor the backside of your defense. Someone like that can cover for a lot of mistakes made by other players.”

MILESTONE TRIO

Sullivan South has enjoyed its share of milestone accomplishments this season.

The school can boast of three players reaching the 1,000-point mark. Senior guards Ben Diamond and Cole Layne both accomplished the feat for the boys’ team. Diamond’s accomplishment is especially impressive because he made it in a little over two seasons. He missed all but 10 games of his sophomore year because of a broken arm.

On the girls side, senior guard Alex Harris reached the prestigious club earlier this season.

WRESTLING UPDATE

Cleveland rolled to the Class AAA state dual wrestling title with a 43-18 win over Wilson Central in Saturday’s championship match.

Pigeon Forge won the Class A-AA title with a 43-26 win over Fairview.

The Region 1-AAA individual tournament will be held this coming Saturday at Volunteer High School in Church Hill.

Qualifiers advance to the state tournament, which will be held Feb. 20-22 in Franklin.

BASKETBALL OVERVIEW

Boys highlight games

Tuesday

Volunteer at Science Hill

Dobyns-Bennett at Cherokee

Tennessee High at David Crockett

Sullivan South at Elizabethton

Thursday

Hampton at Cloudland

The entire Big Seven Conference schedule on Tuesday matters.

Science Hill will try to wrap up an outright title by defeating Volunteer. If the Hilltoppers are upset, Dobyns-Bennett can tie the Hilltoppers for the title with a win over Cherokee. The Hilltoppers will remain the top seed because of their season sweep of Crockett, which split with D-B.

The top two finishers in the regular season get a bye into the district semifinals and an automatic berth in the region. Tennessee High still has a shot at one of those byes. The Vikings would need to beat Crockett, have Cherokee upset D-B, and then win a coin toss against the Indians on Wednesday.

Both Tennessee High and D-B have a win over top-seeded Science Hill, and they split their head-to-head regular season meetings. 

BOYS’ TOP 10

Dobyns-Bennett used its upset of No. 1 Science Hill to move up two spots to No. 4 in this week’s rankings

Team W-L Prv
1. Science Hill 26-3 1
2. Sullivan South 23-3 2
3. Tennessee High 21-8 3
4. Dobyns-Bennett 14-11 6
5. David Crockett 17-9 4
6. Hampton 18-9 5
7. Daniel Boone 13-10 7
8. Elizabethton 10-13 8
9. Sullivan East 14-13 9
10. Unicoi County 13-12 10

Girls highlight games

Thursday

North Greene at Unaka

Hampton at Cloudland

Friday

Sullivan Central at Dobyns-Bennett

North Greene and Cloudland will try to settle the Watauga Valley Conference title issue as they are each 8-1 with one game remaining. …

The Lady Cougars face a rematch of their closest win of the season. They beat the Indians 40-39 in Blountville on Dec. 17. Central carries an 11-game winning streak into the rematch.

GIRLS’ TOP 10

Daniel Boone knocked off Dobyns-Bennett and jumped past the Lady Indians into the No. 3 spot for this week’s rankings.

Team W-L Prv
1. Sullivan Central 25-2 1
2. Science Hill 20-7 2
3. Daniel Boone 15-9 4
4. Dobyns-Bennett 20-9 3
5. Cloudland 20-3 5
6. Sullivan East 19-9 7
7. Elizabethton 15-10 8
8. David Crockett 13-14 7
9. Volunteer 13-12 9
10. Johnson County 15-10 10
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