Chick-fil-A East-West Classic
Today at East Hamilton
6 p.m. Houston girls vs. East Hamilton
Friday at East Hamilton
Noon. Notre Dame girls vs. East Hamilton
1:30 p.m. Oakhaven boys vs. East Hamilton
3 p.m. Arlington girls vs. Oak Ridge
4:30 p.m. Bolton boys vs. Bradley Central
6 p.m. Houston girls vs. Bradley Central
7:30 p.m. Fayette-Ware boys vs. Oak Ridge
Saturday at Bradley Central
1:30 p.m. Bolton boys vs. Oak Ridge
3 p.m. Houston girls vs. Oak Ridge
4:30 p.m. Fayette-Ware boys vs. East Hamilton
6 p.m. Arlington girls vs. Bradley Central
7:30 p.m. Oakhaven boys vs. Bradley Central
The Chattanooga area will host five high school basketball teams from West Tennessee in the first East-West Classic, which is being held at East Hamilton and Bradley Central.
Action begins at 6 tonight with East Hamilton hosting Houston's girls, a Class AAA state semifinalist last season.
Houston's standouts include two 5-foot-10 junior guards. Jayla Hemingway is a Division I recruit who was a Miss Basketball finalist last season, and Madison Griggs is a 3-point specialist with scholarship offers from Southeastern Conference programs. Additionally, Destiny Wells is a 5-8 sophomore point guard who has also drawn interest from colleges.
The remaining 11 games are Friday at East Hamilton and Saturday at Bradley Central. Admission is $8 each day.
Oak Ridge's teams join the boys and girls from East Hamilton and Bradley Central representing East Tennessee. The Wildcats and Lady Wildcats reached the Class AAA state tournaments last year.
Oak Ridge's girls, who lost to Memphis Central in the state quarterfinals, are coached by former Bradley Central and Vanderbilt player Paige Redman. They're led by senior guard/forward and Middle Tennessee State signee Mykia Dowdell. Junior Jada Guinn is a Division I prospect, and senior point guard Jaymi Golden is getting college looks.
"We couldn't ask for a better situation," Redman said of playing in the East-West Classic. "We get to play two teams from Memphis, and it's not only good competition, they play a different style of basketball than what we see on a nightly basis.
"They play at a much faster pace. The speed of the game is what got to us last year. If you don't see that all year, you're not mentally or physically prepared for that. It's one thing to see it on film. But actually seeing it in person is what can help us later, if we're lucky enough to get back to the state tournament."
The idea of bringing teams from opposite sides of the state together for a few days of challenging competition belongs to Hunter Gremore, who is in his second season as girls' coach at East Hamilton. He formerly coached at Arlington, a school located a little east of Memphis that will have one of the girls' teams participating in the inaugural event.
Gremore had Arlington teams play in Memphis's Penny Hardaway National Hoopfest, which by name is enough to indicate there was no shortage of great competition in that tournament. That got Gremore thinking he could create an event that would bring strong teams from his former area and new area together for a weekend of competition that would be mutually beneficial.
Wes Shappley was a boys' coach at Arlington when Gremore was there. He's now head coach of the girls, who last season in his first year lost a close game at Houston in a Class AAA state sectional.
The Lady Tigers feature 6-foot-4 junior Lanetta Williams, who averages 13 points and nine rebounds per game and has scholarship offers from multiple SEC and Atlantic Coast Conference schools. Caitlyn Wilson (17 points per game, seven rebounds per game) is a 6-foot junior guard who is a talented 3-point shooter with offers from several NCAA Division I schools. Taylor Lattimore (10 points per game, five assists per game) is a 5-8 senior guard who has signed to play at Jackson State in Mississippi.
"I told my kids what they were in for," Shappley said. "Girls' basketball is dominant in Middle and East Tennessee. I don't think they know. I told them, 'You'll be playing teams that are sound at every position. They aren't going to turn it over a lot. They shoot the ball extremely well. They're well-coached. You're really going to have to work to beat these teams. You're about to see what it's like at the state level.'
"They're really excited. But I don't think they really realize what they're getting into."
The boys' teams from West Tennessee in the Classic are Bolton, Oakhaven and Fayette-Ware, which reached the Class AA state sectionals last season.
Bartlett's girls were originally in the field but recently decided to withdraw. Notre Dame's girls agreed to fill in for a game, which will be against East Hamilton at noon Friday.
All of the other matchups will be East vs. West. When asked if a tally will be kept of how the sides do against each other Gremore said: "Yes, we probably will do that. It'll be fun."
Contact Kelley Smiddie at email@example.com or 423-757-6653. Follow him on Twitter @KelleySmiddie.