DI girls state tournament primer: Class AAA up for grabs

DI girls state tournament primer: Class AAA up for grabs

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DI girls state tournament primer: Class AAA up for grabs

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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.

The TSSAA Division I girls basketball state tournaments begin Wednesday at MTSU's Murphy Center.

The TSSAA Division I girls basketball state tournaments begin Wednesday at MTSU’s Murphy Center.

Here’s a look at what to expect from the Glass House over the next four days.

TSSAA state girls basketball tournament pairings


Class AAA

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.

Dickson County coach Greg Tipps.

Dickson County coach Greg Tipps.

“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.”

Dickson County's Lea Lea Carter (30), Wilson Central's Kendall Spray (21) and Riverdale's Anastasia Hayes (3).

Dickson County’s Lea Lea Carter (30), Wilson Central’s Kendall Spray (21) and Riverdale’s Anastasia Hayes (3).

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.


Class AA

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.

East Nashville junior Erica Haynes-Overton

East Nashville junior Erica Haynes-Overton

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.

The Tennessean Midstate girls basketball top 10


Class A

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.

Reach Michael Murphy at 615-259-8262 and on Twitter @Murph_TNsports

Girls state tournament pairings

Class AAA

Wednesday

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)

Friday

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

Saturday

1 p.m.: Championship game

Class AA

Thursday

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)

Friday

4:30 p.m.: Semifinals, Grainger/McMinn winner vs. Haywood/Upperman winner

6 p.m.: Semifinals, Westview/Elizabethton winner vs. CPA/East Nashville winner

Saturday

6 p.m.: Championship game.

Class A

Wednesday

4:30 p.m.: Community (29-2) vs. Perry Co. (26-5)

6 p.m.: Pickett Co. (29-2) vs. South Greene (32-4)

Thursday

10 a.m.: Middleton (31-0) vs. Harriman (25-10)

11:30 a.m.: Gibson Co. (35-0) vs. Van Buren Co. (28-4)

Friday

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

Saturday

3:30 p.m.: Championship game

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