MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - Asked for a scouting report of today's opponent in the Class AA state tournament quarterfinal, Tyner basketball coach Gerald Harris instead wanted to evaluate his own team.
"If we play Tyner basketball, we'll be playing again on Friday," Harris said. "It doesn't matter who we play. We feel like if we play our game and not let the environment bother us, we'll be fine."
The Rams (25-3) open against East Nashville (26-5) at 2:15 EDT today at Middle Tennessee State University's Murphy Center in a game of teams with very similar styles. While Tyner is making its first state-tourney appearance in four years, East Nashville was in it last season, losing to Howard by 16 points in the quarterfinals.
"We mirror each other, really," Harris continued. "We're both athletic and want to press and run up and down the floor a lot. They're scrappy, but I think we match up with them.
"The big difference is they have kids who have played here and I don't have a single kid who has played on that floor, in this setting. It can be intimidating with the crowd and the open backdrop behind the basket, but even if our offense isn't there, we can feed off our defense. That's what's been there for us all year."
East Nashville has won 17 straight games and averaged 77 points during that streak. Tyner, meanwhile, is on a 13-game winning streak and hasn't lost to a team in its classification this season. The Rams' only loss to an in-state foe came to AAA power Whitehaven before Christmas.
"We don't have to impress anybody over here," Harris said. "Just getting here is an accomplishment, for sure, but now all we have to do is take care of us and I'm confident we'll be good."
Contact Stephen Hargis at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6293.