The 2016 Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association Division I girls state basketball tournaments get under way Wednesday morning at Middle Tennessee State University’s Murphy Center.
Here’s a look at what to expect from the Glass House over the next four days.
Three Midstate squads — Dickson County, Riverdale and Wilson Central — have advanced to this week’s eight-team Class AAA tournament field, and for the first time in three seasons, two-time defending champion Blackman isn’t among them.
And without a clear-cut favorite, the gold ball truly appears to be up for grabs.
“The last few years, the teams that Blackman and Oakland had were just amazing,” first-year Dickson County coach Greg Tipps said. “That’s not to say those teams aren’t still great, but I think everybody feels like it’s a wide-open state tournament. I think every game that’s being played Wednesday will be a good one, and I think that’s going to make it fun.
“I don’t think there’s a clear-cut favorite in any game.”
Dickson County (29-3), coming off a 50-45 sectional win over Rossview, will be making its second BlueCross Basketball Championships appearance in as many seasons Wednesday, but the Region 6-AAA champion Lady Cougars aren’t exactly loaded with state tournament experience.
“We’re really only playing three girls that played a lot last year,” said Tipps.
Among those, however, are Vanderbilt signee Lea Lea Carter and District 11-AAA MVP Emily Beard — a pair that registered a combined 34 points in 64 minutes in last season’s 57-49 quarterfinal defeat to Bearden.
“We just have to keep doing what we’re doing,” said Tipps, whose Lady Cougars take on Region 3-AAA champion Bradley Central in Wednesday’s 11:30 a.m. quarterfinal. “We want to make sure that when we get to Murphy Center that we do what we do and we don’t worry about the distractions of a different environment.”
In addition to the McDonald’s All-American Carter, a pair of Miss Basketball finalists — Wilson Central’s Kendall Spray and Riverdale’s Anastasia Hayes — will be on display as well.
The senior UT Martin signee, Spray, who recently set the TSSAA record for most career 3-pointers (388), knocked down a state-record 165 triples this season for the Lady Wildcats (33-0), who’ll square off with Memphis Central in Wednesday’s 1:15 p.m. quarterfinal.
Hayes, whose Lady Warriors take on Morristown West on Wednesday at 2:45 p.m., is averaging 19.8 points, 5.6 rebounds and 4.9 assists. The 5-foot-7 junior guard, who is ranked as the No. 20 prospect nationally according to ESPN Hoopgurlz, is averaging 19.8 points, 5.6 rebounds and 4.9 assists.
Three area schools — Christ Presbyterian Academy, East Nashville and Upperman — will also be vying for a TSSAA Class AA state title this week in Murfreesboro.
CPA (26-4), which has strung together 17 straight wins since suffering a 63-41 defeat to Division II-AA champion Brentwood Academy on Dec. 29, has outscored its postseason opponents 360-231 en route to capturing Region 6-AA and District 12-AA tournament championships.
The Lady Lions, who suffered a sectional defeat to state champion M.L. King last season, will square off with fellow East Nashville in Thursday’s 6 p.m. quarterfinals.
The District 10-AA and Region 5-AA champion Lady Eagles (29-2), ranked eighth in The Tennessean Midstate Top 10, are led by a trio of double-digit scorers in Erica Haynes-Overton (19.0 ppg), Le’Jzae Davidson (17.8 ppg) and Kaia Upton (13.3 ppg).
Haynes-Overton also leads the team in rebounding (8.4), steals (7.1) and blocked shots (1.5), registering eight triple-doubles and eight double-doubles.
The Lady Eagles have reeled off 23 straight wins en route to the school’s first state tournament appearance.
District 8-AA and Region 4-AA champion Upperman (33-2), led by Miss Basketball finalist Akira Levy, snapped the school’s seven-year state-tournament drought with Saturday’s 55-29 sectional victory over Sequoyah. The Lady Bees, winners of 27 in a row, will take on Haywood in Thursday’s 2:45 p.m. quarterfinals.
In Class A action, Community (29-2), making its second straight BlueCross Basketball Championships appearance, will be looking to improve on last season’s state quarterfinal finish when the Viqueens take on Perry County (26-5) on Wednesday at 4:30 p.m.
District 7-A and Region 4-A champion Pickett Co. (29-2) will take on South Greene (32-4) in Wednesday’s 6 p.m. opener, while Van Buren County (28-4), led by Miss Basketball finalist Lakelyn Bouldin, will square off with unbeaten Gibson County in Thursday’s 11:30 a.m. quarterfinal.
Girls state tournament pairings
10 a.m.: Oak Ridge (27-4) vs. Dyer Co. (27-5)
11:30 a.m.: Bradley Central (31-3) vs. Dickson Co. (29-3)
1:15 p.m.: Wilson Central (33-0) vs. Memphis Central (34-2)
2:45 p.m.: Morristown West (31-3) vs. Riverdale (29-4)
10 a.m.: Semifinals, Oak Ridge/Dyer Co. winner vs. Bradley Central/Dickson winner
11:30 a.m.: Semifinals, Wilson Central/Memphis Central winner vs. Morristown/Riverdale winner
1 p.m.: Championship game
1:15 p.m.: Granger (26-9) vs. McMinn Central (30-2)
2:45 p.m.: Haywood Co. (28-4) vs. Upperman (33-2)
4:30 p.m.: Westview (31-2) vs. Elizabethton (33-0)
6 p.m.: CPA (26-4) vs. East Nashville (29-2)
4:30 p.m.: Semifinals, Grainger/McMinn winner vs. Haywood/Upperman winner
6 p.m.: Semifinals, Westview/Elizabethton winner vs. CPA/East Nashville winner
6 p.m.: Championship game.
4:30 p.m.: Community (29-2) vs. Perry Co. (26-5)
6 p.m.: Pickett Co. (29-2) vs. South Greene (32-4)
10 a.m.: Middleton (31-0) vs. Harriman (25-10)
11:30 a.m.: Gibson Co. (35-0) vs. Van Buren Co. (28-4)
1:15 p.m: Semifinals, Community/Perry Co. winner vs. Pickett Co./S. Greene winner
2:45 p.m.: Semifinals, Middleton/Harriman winner vs. Gibson Co./Van Buren winner
3:30 p.m.: Championship game