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Hampton picks up a tough challenge for state quarterfinals

Douglas Fritz • Mar 10, 2020 at 8:49 PM

Northeast Tennessee basketball teams don’t get to look at the state tournament bracket and relax.

It’s always tough, and Hampton experienced it first hand during a blind draw for the Class A event Tuesday in Murfreesboro. The Bulldogs will play 2018 state champion Loretto, which was won 22 straight games this season, on March 19 at 3:45 p.m. (EDT). The game will be the second contest in the Class A tournament at Murphy Center in Murfreesboro.

“Honestly I don’t know anything about them,” said Hampton head coach Ned Smith. “I will gather some information first thing (Wednesday) morning. We’re excited to be at the state tournament.”

Hampton (26-10) is in the field for the first time since 2016. Loretto has a record of 27-5.

On the same side of the bracket with Hampton are Monterey (27-7) and Booker T. Washington (27-4). Booker T. Washington hasn’t lost to a Class AA or Class A team this season. It lost two of three games against Class AAA state tournament entrant Memphis Whitehaven.

“Yes, Booker T is probably one of the better teams in the state,” said Smith.

Sullivan South probably feels much like Hampton. The Rebels drew Nashville Pearl Cohn for its quarterfinal matchup in next week’s Class AA event. The Rebels (30-5) will meet the Firebirds (25-3) at 5:30 p.m. (EDT) on March 18 in Murphy Center.

It will be the first-ever state appearance for the Rebels, who finished as the Region 1-AA runner-up before going on the road to knock off Region 2-AA champion Alcoa in Monday’s sectional round.

South and Greeneville made the final eight from Region 1, marking the first time Knoxville failed to have a representative in the Class AA state tournament, which began with the 1975-76 season.

Pearl Cohn has won 17 straight games against Division I opponents and has just one loss this year against a public school team.

On the same side of the bracket with South is defending champion Memphis Wooddale (26-6), and it will play York Institute (25-8) on March 18 at 7 p.m.

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