Tourney of Champions

This week starts the post-season tournament for Anderson County and Clinton, both in the AAA class. All games will take place at Oak Ridge High School.

On Monday, February 17, the Anderson County High School and Clinton High School girls both travelled to Oak Ridge High School, where Clinton beat the Lady Mavericks in their third encounter this year. Clinton will now move on to face off against Central on Wednesday, February 19, at 6:00 pm, again at Oak Ridge High School.

Clinton lost to Central in their last encounter, albeit by only eight points after a grueling game. Whether they’ll measure up against the Lady Bobcats this time around will depend on whether they move on to their biggest challenge: Oak Ridge.

If the Lady Dragons make it all the way to face off against Oak Ridge, they’ll have their work cut out for them, having already lost by double digits against the Lady Wildcats twice this season.

On the boys front, the Anderson County boys will start off the tournament in sixth place in the district, facing off against Halls on Tuesday, February 18 at 6:00. If they win against Halls, they will move on to face Central on Thursday, February 20, at 7:30.

Derek Wallace, the head coach of the Mavericks, said he likes where they are.

“I like our seed. I think it’s a good place to be in the tournament. We’re rested, we’re coming off a couple good performances last week – I like where we are.”

When asked about Anderson County’s losing record against Central and Clinton this season, Wallace brought up Karns, who last season started in the same seed.

“I’m a believer that it’s hard to beat anyone three times. Last year we beat Karns twice in the regular season. They were in the same seed we are now and they ended up in the district championship.”

Despite ranking higher than their first opponent, Halls, the match might still be tough for Anderson County, who have struggled in the later half of the season compared to their early success.

If the Mavs pull off a victory against Halls, they move on to face #3-ranked Central on Thursday, Feb. 20, at 7:30. The Mavs gave Central a run for their money earlier this season, losing out by only two points in their first encounter. In the rematch between the two teams at the end of January, Anderson County took a hard defeat at the hands of the Bobcats, coming up 16 points short for the loss.

Finally, the winner of that game, between Central and their opponent will play Clinton, who finished ranked second in the district. That game will play on Saturday, Feb. 22 at 6:00. The likely matchup will be between Clinton and Central, but anything can happen.

Clinton, for their part, is the favored matchup no matter who they eventually face, having beaten all three teams in multiple match-ups. Unfortunately for the Dragons, they’ll be playing without front man Evan Winchester after his season-ending injury earlier this month. Whether they can compensate for his absence will play a large part in the game, especially if they end up facing off against Central. Winchester played a crucial role in the Dragons’ last two encounters with the Bobcats, and if the two teams play again, it will undoubtedly be a more uncertain outcome for the Dragons without him.

Finally, if the Dragons win they face off against Oak Ridge, their oldest rivals, for the championship. That game will take place on Tuesday, Feb. 25, at 7:30 p.m. The Dragons have lost both encounters with Oak Ridge this season. While the first encounter between the two teams ended closely, and even resulted in a TSSAA review of a referee’s call during the game, the second encounter was more one-sided, with the Bobcats running the court from the very start.