The hardwood action was supposed to get underway this evening in Collegedale at the home of district newcomer East Hamilton. However, with the second winter storm of the season settling into the Tennessee Valley today, the annual hoop events have been shifted to a possible Thursday start but could be pushed back until Friday depending on weather conditions.
According to East Hamilton boys’ basketball coach Michael Stone, administrators are anticipating Hamilton County schools being closed both Wednesday and Thursday, in which case all six opening round tournament games would be moved to Friday.
The East Hamilton facilties have two gymnasiums, both of which have been utilized simultaneously without any problems the last two Januarys to host the Scenic City Showcase events.
Should classes resume Thursday, three games will be played that evening with the second-seeded McMinn County (9-16, 9-3 District 5-AAA) taking on No. 7 seed East Hamilton (4-22, 2-10) in a girls’ contest at 4:30. The regularly scheduled Thursday evening games would follow with third-seeded Walker Valley (17-10, 9-3) girls dueling Soddy-Daisy (6-19, 2-10), before the No. 3 Cleveland boys (15-7, 8-4) tangle with the host Hurricanes (6-20, 3-9) at 7:30.
Under those circumstances, the Friday slate would include a 4:30 boys contest between No. 2 Ooltewah (15-8, 9-3) and seventh-seeded McMinn County (3-21, 2-10). The regular Friday brackets would follow with the fourth-seeded Cleveland girls (12-12, 6-6) taking on No. 5 Ooltewah (5-14, 3-9) at 6 p.m., while the nightcap would find No. 4 and defending district champion Walker Valley (18-9, 7-5) and Soddy-Daisy (11-13, 3-9) tangling in a boys’ matchup.
In the more likely scenario of the opening round being moved to Friday, the action would begin at 3 in the afternoon in the high school gym, with the Cleveland-Ooltewah girls opening the packed agenda followed by the Ooltewah-McMinn boys at 4:30.
On the same floor that evening, the Cleveland and East Hamilton boys would tip off at 6, followed by the Walker Valley and Soddy-Daisy boys at 7:30.
In the middle school gym that same evening at 6, the host Lady Hurricanes would take on McMinn County, while the Walker Valley and Soddy girls would play at 7:30.
Whichever way the opening round elimination battles go, the district semifinals are slated for Saturday with the two girls’ games in the afternoon, while the boys will take the court that evening.
The victor of the Walker Valley-Soddy girls game will tangle with the McMinn-East Hamilton winner in Saturday’s opener at 3 p.m., while the Cleveland-Ooltewah victor will square off against top-seeded Bradley Central (20-5, 11-1) at 4:30.
Coach Jason Reuter’s Bearettes have won the last three district championships, compiling a 108-16 record, including going 55-3 against 5-AAA opponents, since he took over the program before the 2010-11 season.
Bradley’s lone district defeat this season came at the hands of county-rival Walker Valley in a 45-38 December showdown at “The Stable.” The Bearettes avenged that loss in January by stopping District Coach of the Year Jessica Stone’s “Fillies” by a 58-41 margin at Jim Smiddy Arena.
On the boys’ side of the semifinal ledger, the Cleveland-East Hamilton victor will tangle with the Ooltewah-McMinn survivor at 6 Saturday evening, before the Walker Valley-Soddy winner battles No. 1 seed Bradley Central (14-10, 10-2).
Claiming their first regular season title since 2006, District Coach of the Year Chuck Clark’s Bears won their first 10 league games this season, but come into the tournament looking to bounce back from three losses in their last five games, including 5-AAA defeats at the hands of the Blue Raiders and Owls.
The tournaments will wrap up the first of the week with the girls’ consolation and championship games set for Monday evening, while the boys will do the same on Tuesday.
All eight of Saturday’s semifinalist will advance to the Region 3-AAA events Feb. 21-27. The opening rounds of the region will be at the home of the higher seeds with the semifinalists gathering at Cookeville High School to battle for TSSAA Sectional berths.
The District 6-AAA Tournaments is also slated to get underway Thursday with White County (20-6, 9-1), Cumberland County (24-4, 7-3) and Rhea County (20-6, 7-3) as the top three seeded girls’ teams, while Cookeville (20-8, 9-1), Stone Memorial (22-6, 8-2) and White County (20-6, 7-3) hold down the top spots in the boys’ bracket.