Local hoops ready for liftoff

By PATRICK MacCOON

Posted 11/13/17

Very soon the squeaking of shoes on the gym floor will turn into meaningful basketball games, as the tipoff to the 2017-18 prep basketball season is just a day away.For quite a while now District …

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Local hoops ready for liftoff

Posted

Very soon the squeaking of shoes on the gym floor will turn into meaningful basketball games, as the tipoff to the 2017-18 prep basketball season is just a day away.


For quite a while now District 5-AAA has seen Bradley County teams have strong success in a very competitive league.


The girls district champion for 12 straight seasons has been either Bradley Central (7), Cleveland (4) or Walker Valley (1), while the Bearettes have won the last seven in a row.


Meanwhile, on the boys' side the district tournament champion has been a local team for the past six years: Mustangs (3), Bears (2), Blue Raiders (1).


The goal is simple for all: Play the best basketball come February.


This week's Hall of Fame action includes season tipoffs for Walker Valley at Riverdale on Tuesday and Bradley Central at William Blount on Thursday, while the Cleveland girls will host Oakland Tuesday and travel to Scott County to face Knox Central and Campbell County this Saturday.


With a new season comes different lineups to the court and here are possible key and surprise players.


Full season previews will come out in Sunday's paper.


Bradley Central


Boys


Tray Curry


If the name sounds familiar, that is because the younger brother of former Cleveland High School standout KK Curry now has the chance to make his presence felt on the prep hardwood.


With over 80 percent of last year's scoring gone, the Bears will look wherever they can to take charge on offense.


Curry is a 6-foot-3 dynamic athlete who can already dunk.


No one should expect the 23-point, 9.5-rebound average his brother put forth last season, but it wouldn't be out of the realm of possibility for the first-year player to average 13 points per game and six rebounds.


Jared Elrod (surprise)


This senior guard will be a key focal point for the Bears and should take a major leap this season.


With a nice outside shot, Elrod will be relied upon to make big shots this season after putting forth 5-7 points a lot of nights last season.


He returns with as much experience as anyone, and will be expected to lead.


Girls


Rhyne Howard


Driven to lead the Bearettes to a state championship, there is a strong chance Howard will not be denied this season.


With the ability to completely take over a game at any moment, Howard could very well average over 20 points per game this season while stuffing the stat sheet.


The University of Kentucky commit is ready to leave it all out on the floor and help bring home a banner the program has been longing to obtain.


Anna Walker (surprise)


Another player who will bring length to the court and cause a lot of problems for opposing teams, Walker may just be a sophomore but could take a major step forward this season.


The graduations to Emma Kate Brown and Kailey McRee leave a rebounding void of over 10 boards per game. 


Not only will the 6-foot second-year player have an impact on the defensive and offensive boards, but she could be around the 8-10 points per game mark.


Cleveland


Boys


Dionte Ware


While playing on a team chock-full of talented guards, Ware's 6-foot-4 presence will be a tremendous asset inside.


He broke out for a pair of 26-point games last season as just a sophomore and should be in line for a breakout junior campaign.


Expect Ware to be a walking double-double for the Blue Raiders.


Jacobi Wood (surprise)


With a pair of 40-point games and 10-plus assist performances on the JV side of action last season, Wood earned his way to playing time as just a freshman last season.


The flashy guard should see ample minutes this season, and have a chance to have a major impact when he has the hot hand.


Wood and fellow point guard Mullek Bradford could create fireworks for CHS this season.


Girls


Emma Flowers 


A nightly threat to post 25-40 kills on the volleyball court, Flowers looks to be a major threat in the post for the Lady Raiders.


With youthful talent around her, the 6-foot-1 senior center will look to help lead on both ends of the court.


Flowers showed her breakout potential last season when she posted 30 points and 16 rebounds against Rhea County.


Kara Williams (surprise)


The freshman class is expected to make a difference as early as this season on varsity.


Williams has good size for a freshman and will be one of the key ball handlers, along with sophomore Bailey Anderson.


Cleveland believes they can shock the district this season in year two of the Tony Williams era.


Walker Valley


Boys


Kolten Gibson 


Cleveland's Deontae Davis knocked down 3.8 3-pointers per game last season, while Gibson averaged 2.2 per night for the Mustangs.


With seniors Bryce Nunnelly and Cooper Melton gone, Gibson could take over in spurts this season to where he lets loose in the scoring column.


He was the only member of the team to have multiple 20-point outings last season and has to be confident after just posting unbelievable numbers on the gridiron this fall.


Dustin Bunton (surprise)


After awaiting his time, Bunton looks ready to have a major impact this season.


The 6-foot-4 junior can finish strong around the rim and also hit shots from outside.


While 3-point shots will be flying for Walker Valley, Bunton provides a strong presence down low.


Girls


Abbey Davis


This junior point guard has the ability to go off for 15-20 points nightly when attacking the basket and getting to the line.


However, Davis does much more than just score as has a motor that can charge the team on both sides.


Lauren Lay (surprise)


While Lady led the Lady Mustangs in scoring last season, this season could be her true breakout.


A good 3-point shooter and rim attacker as well, the shooting guard very well could average 12 points per game.

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