published Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

Gene Henley: Scenic City Shootout great, but some needed area matchups are missing

There are some games that need to happen during basketball season. They're just good for our area, and good for the sport in general, especially considering that this area doesn't have a plethora of quality teams.

With the Scenic City Shootout this week, we're going to get a chance to look at a lot of national-level talent, with plenty of NCAA Division I caliber players on one team. It's a rare opportunity and people should take some time Thursday to Saturday to go to East Hamilton and watch this showcase.

But in the meantime, there are a lot of quality games that, in my opinion, we're being cheated out of for one reason or another. They could fill seats, which would delight athletic directors as well as fans.

In no order:

Bradley County schools vs. Whitfield County schools: "The Battle for Dalton Pike" is enough of a case, especially considering there are a lot of teachers who travel from Cleveland to Dalton, or vice versa. Relationships exist between the sides already, and such games could be promoted as Tennessee versus Georgia.

McMinn Central vs. Hamilton County AA schools: The Chargers are 17-1 and ranked in the Class AA boys' state poll. But their loss was to an East Hamilton team that battles night in and night out in tough District 6-AA. I want to believe in the Chargers, but I'm not completely sure they've been battled-tested enough for region play, which is one reason we should see them go up against the Howards, Brainerds and Tyners of the world before the Region 3 tournament.

McMinn Central vs. Bradley Central: See above. The only two girls' public schools ranked in the state poll don't meet this season. Awful decision. I'm not sure whose decision it was to cancel the games, nor do I care. These games need to happen. I've covered the girls' game, and it's an all-out war. With where the Chargers are currently, the boys' game wouldn't disappoint, either.

Bradley vs. Calhoun girls: It's not a battle between the top two quarterbacks in passing yardage in area history (Bryce Copeland and Taylor Lamb), but it is teams from their schools. What it is, right now, is the best area team in Tennessee and the best area team in Georgia. It would be a great game to watch.

Baylor wrestling vs. Bradley: Why? Just tell me why. Why are two of the two best programs historically not wrestling each other? I know, I know, they wrestled up in Johnson City over the weekend. They might as well have wrestled in Virginia. Nobody down here is driving over three hours to see that, and from my time covering wrestling in the past, I know there isn't a match more people are wanting to see yet are being deprived the opportunity.

I know it's not basketball, but it makes no sense. Get it done.

My three games to watch tonight:

• Tyner boys at East Hamilton: This looks like the host Hurricanes' easiest game of the week, and I don't say that as a shot at the Rams, who really need to win it. The panic button hasn't been pushed yet, but a loss tonight would be their fourth in district play, which would put them in jeopardy of finishing in the lower half of 6-AA heading into tough postseason play.

• Bradley Central boys at Cleveland: The boys' game last month wasn't decided until the final minute, and Bradley coach Kent Smith is great at taking teams with below-average talent and progressing them as the season goes along. Cleveland had two close victories last week and both teams are right in the thick of the District 5-AAA race.

• Bledsoe County at Signal Mountain boys: Has Signal's Eagles recovered from the hangover of a big win over Notre Dame on Friday? They better have, because the Warriors defeated them by 16 a week ago, and the teams are tied for first in District 7-AA.

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