Riding a 60-game winning streak, the two-time defending state champion Riverdale girls will square off against Bradley Central at Jim Smiddy Arena at 6 p.m.
The Lady Warriors have played in the last four TSSAA state title games, winning three of them, while the Bearettes are coming off their first state tournament appearance in 13 years.
Ranked 11th nationally by MaxPreps, Riverdale had four players sign college scholarships last week, including four-year starter Alexia Middleton inking with the Tennessee Lady Vols and Shelbie Davenport heading to Clemson.
Bradley had a pair of NCAA DI signings as well, with four-year starter Brooke Copeland making her choice for the University of Florida official, as did 6-foot-2 “Twin Tower” teammate Rebecca Reuter, who is heading to Middle Tennessee State.
“It’s should be a heck of a game,” declared head coach Jason Reuter, who has won 89 of his first 100 games since taking over the Bearette program four years ago. “They obviously have more experience up and down their lineup than we do, but playing a strong team like this early will help us get better and more prepared for the challenges down the road.”
Bradley won its only Hall of Fame game last week with a 54-25 blowout of Cookeville, while Riverdale did the same to 2013 Class AA state runner-up Macon County (72-39) and Shelbyville (52-33).
The Riverdale boys are also off to a strong start, with a pair of wins in Hall of Fame action last week, and will take on the Bears (0-1) at 7:30.
The Bradley teams will be at home again Friday evening to take on the tall Hamilton Heights squads. The Hawks feature a “7-foot sophomore and a 6-foot-8 point guard,” according to new Bear head coach Chuck Clark. They also have a 6-foot-9 freshman and a 6-foot-7 wing player, plus the girls team also has several 6-footers.
Cleveland High will open its hardwood campaign with a trip up the mountain to face region-foe Cumberland County for a pair of games, tipping off at 7 p.m.
While the Blue Raider squads have yet to take the court, the Crossville crews got in a trio of Hall of Fame games last week, with the Lady Jets winning all three, while the Cumberland County boys have yet to taste victory.
After both teams went 1-1 in HOF games last week, Polk County opens the regular season this evening in Benton with Coahulla Creek (Ga.) coming across the border. The Wildcat squads will go south of the border on Friday evening with a trip to North Murray (Ga.).
The college courts continue in full swing with the Bryan College men coming to Walker Arena this evening at 7 to face off against Lee, before the Flames head off to Young Harris, Ga., for the Peach Belt/Gulf South Challenge this weekend.
The Cleveland State women are at Milligan tonight before both Cougar squads head to Motlow State Friday and Volunteer State Saturday.
— The high school wrestling season will open this week as well, with defending state duals and traditional champion Cleveland High playing host to Northwest Whitfield (Ga.) Thursday evening. The Raider wrestlers will travel to the Kennesaw (Ga.) Duals this weekend.
Cleveland’s fifth-ranked football team will continue its TSSAA playoff run Friday evening with it’s second trip to eighth-ranked East Hamilton this fall for a state quarterfinal matchup. The Hurricanes nipped the Raiders 21-20 back in early October.