STATE PREVIEW: Van Buren Looking to Oust Bulldogs in Opening Round

A Well-Rounded First Round

With their third trip to the Glass House, you could say that Van Buren’s County presence is becoming a tradition for the Class A Basketball Bracket. Their opponent, though, has as much clout recently, making the Tourney in three of the last four years.

Cue Columbia Academy, who some in the Valley may know for their football success.  This week though, the hardwood is all the talk in Columbia, Tennessee where the Bulldogs have bolstered a 26-6 record with a roster to boot.

With only two seniors and a base of sophomores leading the charge, the parallels drawn between the Eagles and Bulldogs are not are to hard to cypher.  Last season, that may have been the tale of the tape for head coach Dustin Sullivan who had three seniors on his squad, but he’d still tell you he has an amazing base of sophomores behind junior phenoms Bo Walker and Caden Mills.

“I think a lot of teams forget about a lot of our players,” Sullivan explained.  “We’ve got really good basketball players sitting on the bench, not getting any minutes.  I hate it for them, that they’re not getting on the floor as much, but we’ve got a really good sophomore class sitting back there.”

And for a Class A program with an enrollment of 224 students who seem to have relied on a backbone of Mills, Walker, and a hoard of juniors, the depth sitting down-bench from Sullivan can be frightening for any squad trying to match up with the Eagles.

“Everyone of those juniors can play,” Sullivan continued.  “Caden gets keyed on in every game, but everyone is capable of picking it up.  It doesn’t even show in the stat sheet how well some of the guys like Jacob Crain and Sawyer Shockley played.  This year, we’ve just had a great basketball team, top to bottom.”

As well-rounded as the Eagles are, the Bulldogs may be just as versatile heading into the State Tournament.  Several players have stepped up in the past three or four games for Columbia Academy with four players scoring in double digits through the latter end of the postseason.  And the lack numbers in the senior class is just as striking as it was for Van Buren County the past two seasons.

 Only time will tell how well-rounded the first round of the State Tournament will be.


Columbia Academy vs. Van Buren County

Murphy Center, Murfreesboro, TN

Tip-Off Time:  March 16th [4:30 PM CT/5:30 PM ET]

The Road To The Golden Ball


DISCLAIMER:  These are not actual spreads or odds, and cannot be used in kind of sports betting context.

The Spread:  Columbia Academy (-7.5) vs. Van Buren County

Odds to Win:  Van Buren County 5 to 1; Columbia Academy 3 to 5

Over/Under (Total Points):  (124.5 Points) CA 66.0 | VB 68.8

Breaking Down the Bets:  ‘The Spread’ is based on who is favored in the matchup and by how many points.  ‘Odds to Win’ are the odds for a certain team to win that game and is not related to the odds of ‘The Spread.’  The ‘Over/Under’ is how many points both teams are expected to combine for, unrelated to ‘The Spread’ or “Odds to Win.’  These betting lines are simply to display what Vegas would perceive the matchup at and cannot be used in any sports betting enterprise.


The Eagles are averaging 68.8 PPG during their last five games.

The Eagles have won 13 of their last 15 games this season.

Two of Van Buren County’s six losses have come against Clay County, who is also in the Bracket.

The Eagles are 1-1 in First Round games at the State Tournament.  

Columbia Academy has an almost identical record as the Eagles at 26-6 on the season.

The Last Time the Bulldogs Made it To State, Van Buren Made its First Appearance.

The Bulldogs Missed the Cut Last Season, Losing On The Road in Sectionals

The Stat That Matters

Only One of Van Buren County’s Losses was to a team in Class A that didn’t make the Tourney (Jackson County).  Of the six losses, The Eagles fell to (2) Class AA Teams, (1) Class AAA team, (1) Jackson County, and Twice to Clay County, who is also in the Tournament.

What The Coach Said

“We’re going up to Murfreesboro to win three games.  You really have to get game film on all seven teams, and you’ve got to have it ready.  If you win Thursday, you’ve got to turn right around and play Friday.  When we go into a tournament, I’ve got scouting reports and game film on all the teams because there’s a possibility that we could play any one of them.  We’ll play on some big floors at Tennessee Tech and Chattanooga to try and get ready for Tournament as well.”

— Coach Dustin Sullivan, Van Buren County

“I don’t know a lot.  [Van Buren’s] got some length to them. They shoot the ball well. They’re a perimeter-oriented team. We went to their camp this past summer and saw them. We know they’re good. They’ll be a good challenge. At this stage, they’re all good. But we’ll get some film on them, start breaking down some things and see how we match up.”

— Coach Marty DeJarnette, Columbia Academy


Van Buren County:  Caden Mills (Junior Wing [6’6]), Bo Walker (Junior Guard [6’1]), Jacob Crain (Junior Wing [6’4]), and Austin Miller (Junior Point Guard [5’8])

Columbia Academy: Carson Cary (#12, Sophomore Guard [6’0]), Chase Butterfield (#14, Junior Guard [5’9]), Blake Kincaid (#20, Junior Guard [6’0]), Nygil Arms (#5, Senior Guard [5’9]), and Walker Galbraith (#32, Junior Forward [6’2])

Contact Chandler Morrison at and follow him on Twitter@RCS_Chandler!


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