Christmas is the time of the year that brings hope and cheer to all it touches. It also means hoops events galore and none bigger than the 2008 Venture Express Great 8 Holiday Tourney at Riverdale High School starting this Saturday.
The event is loaded with teams from all corners of the state and action begins on Saturday and concludes with the championship round on Monday the 29th.
A Middle Tennessee clash begins things at 4:00 with powerful Maplewood tangling with always tough Wilson Central. Maplewood currently stands at 8-1 and is one of the best teams in the mid-state area. Robert Wade (Maplewood) is the focal point for the Music City group and will be assisted inside by talented Josh Lee (Maplewood) and Justin Snelling (Maplewood). Maplewood got some great news in the past few weeks as former McGavock scorer Fred Lee (Maplewood) transfered to the squad. Lee can score and will be a welcome addition in the Maplewood backcourt.
For the senior laden Wilson Central group, Kelton Stewart (Wilson Central) runs their show. The senior point guard will be joined by his classmates Arcavious McCurry, JuJuan Brooks and Preston Jenkins in helping lead the boys from the WC to the next round.
Our Middle Tennessee Game of the Week highlights the second game of the evening with powerful Siegel taking on Shelbyville. This game will be a mile a minute scoring feast that is sure to please any crowd. Siegel is coming off a signature win against powerful Liberty Tech and will use that momentum in this event. Marc Gooch (Siegel) was a go to guy in the big win and his efforts along with those from fellow juniors Kerry Hammonds (Siegel) and Levon Tate (Siegel) will continue to propel the Stars towards a night in March at the Murphy Center.
Shelbyville will have other ideas but scoring will not be an issue with "EA Hoops" Emmanuel Andrews (Shelbyville) in the game. The junior scoring machine is on a tear as of late and we see no reason for this not to continue. He will certainly draw Mr. Gooch and that could be worth the price of admission itself. The Eagles will need a big effort from the last remaining Shebyville Twilley, Deonta Twilley (Shelbyville), to move into the next round in the winners bracket.
One of the better and more consistent squads from the West will do battle with a traditional East Tennessee power who has fallen on some tough times. Memphis Central will bring their unique brand of basketball to the 'boro led by some of the state's best including Tyler Stone (Memphis Central), Tim Peete (Memphis Central) and Chris Sledge (Memphis Central). Depth is always a Central trait and this squad should prove no different.
On the other side of the ledger, the Bears are struggling a bit with an inexperienced lineup. The return of Matt Perkins (Bradley Central) and Colby Ownby (Bradley Central) combined with the steady efforts of newcomer Bradley Allen (Bradley Central) should help Coach Smith and his Bears get this pointed in the right direction.
The final contest of the evening will pit the host squad Riverdale against 2007 AAA state champion Maryville. Riverdale is talented but painfully young. Sophomore guards Janeal McDonald (Riverdale) and T.J. Chesterfield (Riverdale) have a world of potential while senior stalwart Craig Nowlin (Riverdale) will be looked upon for leadership.
Maryville comes into the contest with a nice mix of talent including big Jay Reynolds (Maryville) and Ryan Click (Maryville). Reynolds has improved his offensive production and is a threat to score on the block, while Click has advanced his game past the simple three-pointer with the ability to score off the dribble and dish the rock to his big guns. The return of rising junior Cameron Langley (Maryville) will be a huge boost for the Rebels in this opening contest.
Heres to wishing everyone a Merry christmas and Happy New Year and if your out we'll see you in the 'boro on Saturday.