As has become a local custom, a pair of high-quality events will be held in Cleveland, with a dozen teams converging on the Raider Dome for the Murmaid Mattress Classic, while eight top-notch girls teams will invade Jim Smiddy Arena for the 12th annual Mountain View Inn Thanksgiving Tournament.
Meanwhile, the Walker Valley squads will gallop north to Maryville for two days of hardwood action to get their season “officially” under way.
Both teams from Cleveland High and Polk County, along with the Bradley Central boys, will participate in the dozen games of the Murmaid Classic with action tipping off at noon Friday. The host Blue Raiders, who were 15-13 last season, and defending District 5-AA champion Wildcats will square off in the opener.
It will be the first action of the season for the Cleveland boys, while Polk County came up on the short end of a 56-49 tally against Tellico Plains in a HOF game last week.
In a matchup of 20-win teams last year, the Bears (28-7) will try to slow down the Roadrunners of Austin-East (21-12) at 1:30 tomorrow afternoon.
After coming up just short of a state tournament berth in March, Coach Kent Smith’s 17th season at Bradley has yet to tip off, while the perennially tough Knoxville squad has already notched a 67-61 win over Greeneville in HOF play.
Rounding out the three boys’ games Friday finds McMinn County welcoming former Raider assistant coach Keith Galloway and his Hardin Valley Academy squad back to CHS.
The Cherokees went 18-13 last year and dropped a 71-59 HOF matchup with Cookeville 10 days ago, while the Hawks are currently 1-3 on the new season, including a 79-66 defeat at Ooltewah Tuesday evening.
The girls action will begin at 4:30 with the other half of the Galloway coaching duo, Jennifer, bringing her 3-1 Lady Hawks to her old digs to face Polk County, which came up short in its HOF game with Tellico last week.
The Baylor School girls will battle McMinn County in the 6 p.m. game. Both won their HOF games last week against Marion County and Cookeville respectively.
A battle of 19-win teams from last season will cap the first day’s play with the host Lady Raiders (19-9) taking on Cumberland County (19-16).
Cleveland dropped its season opener to CAK Tuesday evening, while the Lady Jets have yet to find the win column in four games.
The roles will be reverse on Saturday with the girls going first. Cumberland County and Baylor open the day at noon, followed by McMinn and Polk counties going at it at 1:30. Cleveland and Hardin Valley will make it a true homecoming for coach Jennifer Galloway at 3 p.m.
The boys will take the court at 4:30 with Polk and McMinn playing, followed by Bradley and Hardin Valley. Cleveland will close out the event against Austin-East in the 7:30 contest.
Some familiar faces along with a few of new ones will gather across town for the Mountain View Inn event.
The action will tip off at 2 Friday afternoon with defending District 4-AAA champion Bearden (24-6 last season), taking on the international squad from Hamilton Heights.
Bearden defeated Morristown-East in its HOF game last week, while Hamilton Heights is 2-0 behind the play of 6-foot-4 Western Kentucky commitment Rokas Paulauskas.
Game 2 finds District 6-AA champion and substate participant East Hamilton battling perennial power Oak Ridge at 3:45.
Brainerd, a 20-win team, and Alcoa, 18-13 last season and with a victory over five-time state tournament participant McMinn Central in its opener this season, will tangle at 5:30.
In a rematch of last year’s tournament title game, the host Bearettes will cap the opening round against two-time defending state champion GPS at 7:15.
The Bruisers (27-4) defeated Bradley (32-2) for last year’s crown before coach Jason Reuter’s squad went on a 27-game winning streak. The Bearettes advanced the TSSAA sectional playoffs for the second straight season.
On Saturday, the Bearden/Hamilton Heights loser will take on the East Hamilton/Oak Ridge loser at 1 p.m., while the Brainerd/Alcoa and Bradley/GPS losers will tangle at 2:45.
The tournament’s semifinals will begin at 4:30 with the Bearden/Hamilton Heights winner facing the East Hamilton/Oak Ridge winner, while the Bradley/GPS victor will square off against the Brainerd/Alcoa survivor at 6:15.
The event will wrap up Sunday with the seventh-place game starting at 11:30 a.m., followed in order by the fifth-place and third-place games. The tournament championship will be determined at 4:45 p.m.
In a classic-style event at Maryville Heritage High School, the Walker Valley squads will play Morristown-East at 1 and 2:30 Friday afternoon and Sevier County at 4 and 5:30 Saturday.
Coach Bob Williams’ Mustangs notched victories over East Hamilton and White County in HOF play last week, while coach Jessica Stone’s Lady Mustangs are 1-1.