Home court big advantage in sectionals

Home court big advantage in sectionals

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Home court big advantage in sectionals

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MURFREESBORO

There isn’t a current player or coach involved in the Riverdale girls basketball program that has experienced a loss at Johnny Parsley Memorial Gymnasium.

If the percentages play out, the chances of that continuing tonight are fairly decent.

Over the past 10 seasons, 70.4 percent of teams hosting a TSSAA Division I girls basketball sectional have won to advance to the TSSAA BlueCross Girls Basketball State Championships. That number, though, dips to 62.5 percent among Class AAA teams.

Top-ranked Riverdale (31-0) hosts unranked White County (21-12) at 7 p.m. today in a Class AAA sectional. It is one of three girls sectional games involving area teams. It is also the only home game involving local teams.

Fourth-ranked Blackman (26-4) plays at third-ranked Bradley Central (28-2) at 6 p.m. (CST) today in a Class AAA sectional. And sixth-ranked Cannon County (27-6) plays at third-ranked McMinn Central (29-3) at 6 p.m. (CST) today in a Class AA sectional.

All sectional winners advance to next week’s TSSAA BlueCross Girls Basketball State Championships held at Middle Tennessee State University. State tournament pairings will be announced during a blind draw scheduled for 2 p.m. Sunday at the Embassy Suites and Conference Center in Murfreesboro.

“The home game is big,” Riverdale coach Cory Barrett said. “I don’t know what the percentages are. I don’t get caught up in all of that. But I know one thing. I’d rather play at Riverdale than anywhere in the country.

“I’m glad we’re doing that (tonight).”

Riverdale has won 54 consecutive games, and is one win shy from tying its longest streak that was snapped in 2011. The Lady Warriors have won 66 consecutive at home. The past three Riverdale head coaches — Hillary Hodges, John Wild and Barrett — have never lost on their home floor.

While the percentages favor the home team, Blackman has enjoyed success going on the road and winning sectional games. The Lady Blaze are 2-1 in the sectional round, with all three games coming on the road.

Teams from Region 4-AAA, which includes District 7-AAA, have fared well from Region 3-AAA. It is 18-6 against Region 3-AAA since the TSSAA moved to the current playoff format in the sectional round. And Bradley Central is 0-6 in those games, including a 44-27 home loss to Blackman in the 2011 sectional.

“It’s just part of the experience,” said Blackman coach Chad Hibdon of going on the road. “We’d like to have gotten another home game for our seniors and our fans. But you look at it two ways.

“It will be a big-time environment down there. They are going to pack the gym. It’s nothing new. We’ve experienced this. We understand what we have to do leading up to it, how we need to take the trip and prepare for it.”

Cannon County also will have an uphill battle when it travels to Englewood. McMinn Central is 8-3 in Class AA sectional games since 2001, including a 7-2 record at home. The Chargerettes lone road win came at Cannon County in 2010.

But Cannon County coach Michael Dodgen is confident his team can win on the road.

“If we take care of the ball and rebound, we’ll give ourselves a chance,” Dodgen said. “They are a good basketball team. It will be a tough environment, and we have prepared for that. They are going to pressure fullcourt all night and they rebound the ball well.

“If we limit turnovers and attack the basketball, we have a chance.”

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