What a great time of year my friends. With the new format of the state tournament the teams from the AA ranks begin the action tomorrow tipping at 11:00 with four games and concluding with two from the ranks of AAA. Here is a preview of the games that will take place tomorrow.
Alcoa vs. Mitchell (11:00)
Two first year coaches begin their quest to bring home the gold ball to their respective communities as the Tornadoes of Alcoa battle the Tigers of Memphis Mitchell in the opener at 11:00 on Wednesday at the Murphy Center.
Alcoa will continue to play the up-tempo style that helped them win 30 games this season led by seniors Matt Shown (Alcoa), Gabe Dando (Alcoa), Tre Tate (Alcoa) and Hunter Ramsey (Alcoa). The Tornadoes can bust the three or bring the ball into the post for Shown. Look for a big game from junior wing Kenny Dean (Alcoa) with his ability to knock down the three and finish at the rim in transition.
Mitchell is one of the surprise teams in this classification, having made steady improvement during the district and region tournaments and continuing this trend into the state tournament. First year head man Faragi Phillips is excited about this group which has very balanced scoring and is led by Aquarius Stevenson (Mitchell).
Former Tennessee assistant head coach and first year Alcoa mentor Tony Jones knows a thing or two about big games and will have his troops ready for the task at hand,
Howard vs. Liberty Tech (12;45)
The Crusaders make their annual pilgrimage to the ‘boro to defend their Class AA state title for second year coach Jarrett Jones. A different cast of characters lead the Liberty Tech boys including on-coming senior wing/post Matt Smith (Liberty Tech), who was at his best during the region tournament scoring points and lifting his teammates to their rightful spot in the Murphy Center.
Over at Howard, venerable coach Walter McGary is excited about the emergence of 6'8 junior post Brandon Walters (Howard). The big man always had the soft hands and was light on his feet now his body is catching up and his production is clearly visible. His emergence will be key for the Hustlin Tigers if they wish to advance past the first round.
Smith has been the catalyst in the playoffs but for the Crusaders to make a move onward and upward they will need more production from a trio they have depending on the entire season in Daniel Hill (Liberty Tech), Tavarius Gause (Liberty Tech) and Rashad Crisp (Liberty Tech).
Livingston Academy vs. Stone Memorial (2:30)
These two have met twice this season with mixed results but both positive for the Panthers of Stone Memorial. A buzzer beater and a convincing 94-68 thrashing should have the "Hog-Eye" up in arms.
Coach Jimmy Miller will turn to the brothers Ramsey to lift the Wildcats into the victory column. Senior Logan Ramsey (Livingston Academy) and junior Mason Ramsey (Livingston Academy) are the two leading scorers for L.A. Coach Miller will be depending on junior guard Brock McCoin (Livingston Academy) to continue his production from the region tourney into state competition.
Over at Stone, Mr. Basketball finalist the creative and productive Brandon Cole (Stone Memorial) is the key to what makes Coach Mike Buck's Panthers click. However, statistics show when Cole scores in the 30's the teams results are not always positive, so his supporting cast led by the dynamic guard tandem of Brock Rowan (Stone Memorial) and Robert Troino (Stone Memorial) will need to provide double digit scoring to smooth the road for Stone.
Spring Hill vs. CPA (4:15)
Two teams sporting records which include over 30 victories make this a very attractive final contest in the ranks of AA. CPA has been riding high all season, improving at every stage of the game led by Belmont signee and Mr. Basketball finalist Craig Bradshaw (CPA).
Spring Hill will look to it's backcourt as it has all season, led by a pair of seniors in Montrae Williams (Spring Hill) and Lamar signee Kielan Blanks (Spring Hill). The Raiders suffered only one loss during the regular season while the Lions only had two.
CPA should have the advantage inside with fellow Mr. Basketball finalist sophomore sensation Jalen Lindsey (CPA).
This game should be a 3 point-shooter heaven with both teams enamored with the shot from the bent line. Williams and Blanks will take the reigns for the Raiders while CPA will rely on sophomore sharpshooter Jake Allsmiller (CPA) from that distance.
Depth will be a factor as CPA can bring so many guards into the fray to make it difficult for the dynamic duo from Spring Hill. Braxton Bonds (CPA) and Vic Wharton (CPA) will attempt to cause havoc with the Raider guards.
Clarksville vs. Cherokee (6:00)
A superb guard match-up highlights this contest between the omnipresent Wildcats of Clarksville and the Chiefs from Cherokee.
Daijon Williams (Clarksville) makes this Clarksville team go and the dynamic Lilliputian will have his hands full defensively with King College signee and Chiefs leader James Scales (Cherokee).
Scales helped lead Cherokee to a monumental upset against Knoxville West and the Chiefs believe they have the skill and basketball toughness to continue on here in the ‘boro.
Clarksville came on strong in the region tournament as they seem to do every year and venerable Coach Ted Young has his group ready and able to move into the second round if they execute and defend.
Memphis Central vs. Ooltewah (7:45)
Representing Memphis is a big job for the Warriors of Memphis Central. Led by Andre Applewhite (Memphis Central) this group dispatched of the favorite Ridgeway and find themselves in Murfreesboro ready to bring the gold ball to their side of the Bluff City.
Ooltewah struggled a bit during the opening rounds of the playoffs but did just enough to win then found their groove and with 30+ from senior leader Jervon Johnson (Ooltewah) will represent at state.
Applewhite has provided the scoring but the catalyst for this Warrior squad has been the emergence of senior point guard Myron Johnson (Memphis Central). The diminutive one has been outplaying his more heavily inked about brethren and only he stands with the Warriors at state.
Central will have a size advantage with the powerful Applewhite and 6'6 D'Arius Sorrell (Memphis Central) yet if the Owls can knock down the outside shot and keep the tempo to their liking this could be a great game to end the first day of action.