With only three teams in action Friday night, Valley hoops action is slowly fading into the postseason abyss. Or is it?
If it’s anything like the title insinuates, then we’ve a least got another lap and some donuts left on the freshly-manicured lawn before we’re ready to call it quits and prepare ourselves for spring specialties.
That being said, there’s still a lot of work left to do in the hoops sector of the Valley sporting world.
Marion County Rolls Over Copper Basin, 65-41
After taking the district title from hands of Van Buren County Monday night, the Lady Warriors took down Copper Basin with the 65-41 victory Friday night in front of a home crowd.
Keeping the focus was a main concern for Marion County head coach Randy Ellis, but he had some help from fearless senior Emily Webb who has been under the weather as of late.
“Before the game, Emily said ‘I am not ready for this to be my last game,” Ellis explained. “She wasn’t lying. She battled the flu this week and had t during the game. She’s just so tough that she would stand in a hurricane to watch two dogs fight.”
The Warriors took an early 18-9 lead over the Cougars coming out of the first quarter and maintained the lead throughout the contest. Part of that can be attributed to the edgy moves down on the court.
“Our girls were very comfortable on offense tonight,” Ellis continued. “They took some crazy shots and had a lot of determination on the boards. We were concerned about Copper Basin’s first step to the basket, but our defense was outstanding tonight.”
After practicing two days without knowing how then would play earlier in the week, Marion County will have just the weekend to prepare for their next test in Region 3-A play, CSAS.
“You still have to win the next game to advance,” Ellis said. “Unfortunately, we have to get ready for multiple games. Practice time at this stage in the postseason is precious when you include battling the flu and limited floor time due to hosting the Region Tournament. when you have to anticipate. At this point all coaches are up most of the night breaking down film and scheming what to incorporate into practice.”
Marion County hosts through the tournament and will take on CSAS Monday at 7:30 PM. The Warriors have already beaten CSAS twice this season by sizeable margins.
Lady Pirates Showing Signs of Future Success
Barely in the cusp of the 2016-2017 season, the South Pittsburg Lady Pirates laid a goose egg at the feet of now-District 5A Champion Silverdale in the form of a 65-28 shelacking.
That’s 37 points of difference between the 1- and 4-seeds of the 5A and 6A districts.
Friday night, though, South Pittsburg fell just nine points short of downing the Seahawks on their own turf. The 37-point margin took place in “The Pitt,” which showed the Seahawks’ dominance to an even greater extent.
And among the stories of Valley hoops, South Pittsburg, which is known for its powerhouse football program, is one of the more interesting as they have an 8th-grader on the roster with plenty of pieces to set up in the periphery. The most interesting aspect, though, is the eventual decline of powers like rival Marion County and Van Buren County.
After the departure of Lakelyn Bouldin, the Eaglettes have struggled a tad, losing the district title for the first time in years. Both Marion County and Van Buren County will also lose key playmakers that have kept them afloat for the past few years.
The door might not be wide open for the Lady Pirates, but the future looks to be a lot more competitive, at least in district and region play.
District 8-AA Not Fading Anytime Soon?
After last year’s split between 7-AA and 8-AA in the Region 4-AA first round by Sequatchie County and Signal Mountain, many thought that District 8, at least on the girls’ side of the sport, was fading back into the realm of ‘average.’
Maybe the coaches of 8-AA had a meeting about the situation and thought it proper to not stoop down to 7-AA again, but maybe, just maybe, 2015-2016 was a fluke. Maybe Sequatchie County was the fluke after being upset by Notre Dame over a week ago. Maybe Signal Mountain was a fluke as they hosted the 4-seed Friday night and lost by 22.
Maybe 8-AA just let its guard down after years and years of pure dominance. It happens.
Next season, though, many 8-AA teams will lose a load of seniors while Bledsoe County, the regular season district champs, may have a year of unhindered success.
“Everybody else in AA loses seniors,” Bledsoe County head coach Carlos Davis explained. “We lose zero with four juniors. Everyone else loses a lot, 5-6 a team out in District 8. Upper Man loses some. McMinn Central loses some. Livingston loses some.”
The Lady Warriors may be in shape to take over the district, but the region may reload quicker than expected with Middle Tennessee powerhouses ready to stock up on harwood talent on a consistent basis.
The door may open, but you still have to push it.