It was everything I thought it could be and more.
What a fantastic choice for the second game of my hoops caravan around the state.
Austin East remained unbeaten on the young season slipping by a determined howard squad 64-60 in Knoxville.
Despite losing majority of their squad to graduation the Hustlin Tigers came to play. They held a lead throughout the majority of the contest before sophomore guard Brandon Lopez (Austin East) made a sic driving bucket and converted the foul shot then stole the inblounds and hit one of two to tie the contest.
A couple of clutch inside hoops from Travai Pryor (Austin East) and a clutch three from rising senior Chance Jones (Austin East) helped close things out for the Runners.
Pryor led AE with 20, Lopez chipped in 15 and senior Chase Jones added 14.
For the Hustlin Tigers their scoring balance was led by Calvin Ross with 13 and Chris Deloney with 12.
This my friends is the best time of the year. January when games get interesting and district and region battles are formulated.
The move into February when playoffs get underway, then March when it all comes to a head is without question the zenith for the hoops junkie.
I love it!!!!!!!
I am embarking on a magical mystery tour of the state this month covering alot of miles and touching almost every corner along the way.
Let's take a look at where we are headed:
It all started last night with a trip to Sweetwater to watch the Wildcats take on the Panthers of Brainerd. Fred Strudivant (Brainerd) ,one of the most talented players in the state, finished with 22 and the Panthers rolled in this one. Not to be left out sophomore combo guard Cory Billingsley (Sweetwater) led all scorers in the game with 23.
On Thursday we gotta watch the Sooners.
Friday, January 9th
Howard @ Austin East
The states top ranked AA squad taking on their arch nemesis. The Hustlin Tigers come to Knoxville unblemished and would love nothing more than to upset the Roadrunners.
Saturday, January 10th
USN @ Kings Academy
Meiko Lyles (USN) brings his considerable game to East Tennessee for this Saturday clash.
Monday, January 12th
Anderson County @ Alcoa
No travel time in this one as the Mavericks and senior guards Jordan Rorex and Tyler Cross invade Blount County. No travel time cause home is the home of the FIVE TIME Class AA state football champs.
Tuesday, January 13th
Tyner Academy @ Tellico Plains
Very excited to get to get the opportunity to see a couple of nice juniors in Reggie Gilmore (Tyner Academy) and Michael Bradley (Tyner Academy).
Thursday, January 15th
Cloudland @ Carter
Over in Strawberry Plains, Lester Wilson (Carter) gives us a show in this Thursday night clash.
Friday, January 16th
Columbia Central @ Tullahoma
To the mid-state for a chance to see the top five AP state ranked boys from Columbia. Tryston Horton (Tullahoma) has also raised some eyebrows in that part of the state.
Saturday, January 17th
Fayette-Ware @ Bolivar Central
Down West we go to see Chris Reeves, Jay Murphy and Des Crisp give it their all for the town of Bolivar. Also looking forward to seeing big Nick Barbee (Fayette-Ware) for the first time in a while.
Tuesday, January 20th
Red Bank @ Walker Valley
Who's hotter than David Ware (Walker Valley) right now and hitting the road to see the Valley will be a treat. Red Bank has a host of youngsters in Nick Ross and Kelvin Clay that have shown improvement, can't wait.
Friday, January 23rd
Oak Hill @ Bearden
National power Oak Hill makes the trip to East Tennessee to battle the talented and deep Bulldogs. This will be a classic and make sure your in attendance, I know I will be.
Saturday, January 24th
Marshall County @ Lipscomb
Sophomore sensation Kedren Johnson (Marshall County) makes the trip to one of the toughest venues in the mid-state. Carter Sanderson (Lipscomb) has a habit of knocking down game winners and is playing the best basketball of his career thus far. A must see.
Tuesday, January 27th
Greeneville @ Maryville
It was in this match-up six short years ago that my friend Lee Humphrey played his last high school game. Greeneville will be led by talented senior Jordan Short. The Rebels are gaining momentum for another late season run and this could trigger all those emotions once again.
Friday, January 30th
Grainger @ Union County
This game always has some sort of complications within the final talley of this district. Skylar McBee (Grainger) is scoring in bunches right now and looks to permanently put his name in the scribes of the new Grainger High. The return of Tyler Vittetoe (Union County) should give the boys from the UC much to be happy about.
Saturday, January 31st
Chattanooga Central @ Chattanooga Christian
We conclude the tour with a trip down to Chatt town to see my boy Steve Cook (Chattanooga Christian) and his squad. Looking forward to this one as well.
That makes for a busy January and I realize the schedules can change and I will confirm before heading in the appropriate direction. If you know that some of these games are posted wrong please let me know and we'll make a change.
Hope to see you in the gym....Happy Hoops...Andre
McBee was deadly over the holidays putting up numbers and keeping folks in East Tennessee riveted with his exploits.
The talented senior shooting guard rocketed 30 markers on Cannon County and to top that finished the tourney with 35 large against Somerset (Ky.).
"Silk" keeps pouring in the points and this holiday season was no exception. The Vanderbilt signee dropped 35 in the semi-final and then 34 in the title game against Harding Academy to lead his squad to the championship of the Hickman County Christmas Tourney.
Then on Saturday he scored 51 in a tough loss to powerful Livingston Academy.
The talented senior is probably not a welcome visitor in the Bluegrass State.
Jones was unmercioulous to Kentucky during the holiday season dropping 43 on Russell County (Ky.), then scoring 27 against Pulaski County (Ky.) then finished up with 23 against Clay County (Ky.).