Monday, March 5
Clarkrange at Grace Academy, 7
Arts & Sciences at Friendship Christian, 8
Sequatchie County at Howard, 7
Tyner at Livingston Academy, 8
LaVergne at Ooltewah, 7
Bradley Central at Blackman, 8
MCMINN CENTRAL GIRLS IN STATE TOURNAMENT
Ninth-ranked McMinn Central will face No. 3 Obion County on Wednesday in the quarterfinals of the Class AA state tournament at the Murphy Central at 3:30 EST, the TSSAA announced during a live draw Sunday.
Behind 23 points from junior Elizabeth Masengil and a solid defensive effort, the Chargerettes improved to 25-7 with a 57-48 victory over Grundy County in the sectional. The Lady Rebels are 33-2 after an 80-49 pasting of Oakhaven. Brandi Goodman had 32 points and 17 rebounds in Obion’s victory.
Although the fact that the Ooltewah basketball team will play in a sectional round game tonight is nothing new, the location will be an exciting new venue.
When the Owls take the court against LaVergne tonight at 7 p.m., they will be playing at Ed Foster Gymnasium, marking the first time the school will have hosted a sub-state game in their history. Ooltewah (26-5) earned that right by defeating Bradley Central 60-58 Thursday in the Region 3-AAA championship game.
They are one of seven area teams participating tonight with an opportunity to advance to next week’s state tournament in Murfreesboro. The Bears (28-6) will travel to Blackman in the other AAA sectional. Howard won the Region 3-AA title, and they will host Sequatchie County, while Tyner travels to Livingston Academy.
Arts & Sciences travels to Friendship Christian in Class A, while Grace Academy will host Clarkrange.
Ooltewah coach Jesse Nayadley said Sunday that while they haven’t faced the 19-13 Wolverines before, they’ve face a team with a similar style.
“They remind me a lot of Tyner,” he said. “They have a couple of big, meaty guys in the post, like a Trey Suttles, and they hang around the rim. They have some quick guards, but they like to get the ball into a big kid down low who is about 6-5. It’ll be a contrast of styles. We have to do a good job of picking them up defensively and making it hard to feed the high post, which we do when we pressure teams the right way.
“They will run, but for us, we just have to get back to what we do, which we have lately.”
After a few lethargic performances, including their region quarterfinal victory over White County, the team had a meeting and Nayadley put things in perspective.
“The meeting got us ready for Cookeville,” Ooltewah senior Jervon Johnson said. “Coach told us that game was a do-or-die situation, and with us not making it this far last season, it’s been our main goal to go farther, so we had to put it all on the table.”
With teams paying more attention to Johnson, the District 5-AAA Player of the Year, other players have stepped up, including sophomore Ben Snider, who had 29 points in the past two games. Nayadley also pointed to senior Mikhail Creech, whom he calls his “quarterback on the floor.”
“There was a point that we struggled. We won, but not the way we’ve been accustomed to winning,” Nayadley said. “Mikhail has always been our leader. He doesn’t get the offensive stats, but he blocks a lot of shots and passes the ball well from the high post.
“He was our point guard as a freshman — he sees the floor real well.”
The Owls are expecting a large crowd and hoping for a rowdy environment for a game that could put them in the state tournament for the first time in the school’s history.
“It’s going to be packed in here,” Johnson said. “Hopefully, we’ll be able to do something special for them.”
Said Nayadley: “A couple seasons ago, we went to Siegel for sub-state and they blew us out of the water. This year, I think we’re as prepared as we can be. The guys are anxious and ready, and we hope to have a big turnout.”