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Top-seeded Lady Dragons take care of business in district semi-final round

Clinton’s sophomore Lanee Carmichael (30) has proven to be a fierce talent during the 2023-24 season. Teams have had to be mindful of her scoring and second attempts after offensive rebounds. - Tony Cox
A late surge helped the Clinton High School girls basketball team capture a postseason victory and an opportunity to host a game in this week’s Region 2-AAA Tournament Friday night.

The top-seeded Lady Dragons were already assured of a spot in the regionals by virtue of their regular-season league championship.

But Clinton (22-6) entered the District 4-AAA Tournament wanting more, namely a district tournament championship, which would earn it home court advantage throughout the region tournament.

The Lady Dragons took their first postseason step with a 62-49 victory over Union County in the district tournament semifinals at Scott High School in Huntsville.

For three quarters this contest was a roller coaster ride. Clinton led, 15-14, at the end of the first quarter. They Lady Dragons extended their advantage by halftime. Things, however, remained close with Clinton clinging to a 31-29 lead at the break.

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Lady Mavs prove they are tournament ready

Anderson County sophomore Addison Bible has become a seasoned veteran of the Lady Mavs’ system during the 2023-24 campaign. - Tony Cox
When Anderson County High School’s girls basketball team got off to a blazing start Thursday night in the District 4-AAA Tournament semifinals, it looked as though the Lady Mavericks would cruise into this week’s tournament championship game.

Anderson County would reach the title game, but it was anything but easy. The Lady Mavericks would capture a double-digit win, prevailing, 56-43, over Cumberland Gap Thursday night at Scott High School in Huntsville.

ACHS (118-10) outscored the Lady Panthers, 19-5, in the first quarter of the district semifinals and appeared poised to win easily.

Cumberland Gap, however, had other ideas.

The Lady Panthers flipped the script in the second stanza, using an 18-5 run to pull to within 24-23 by halftime.

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Russell’s hot hand behind the arc leads Mavs over Scott

Clinton’s Bryson Maddox can rebound and score. His five rebounds and 12 points during Friday’s semi-final match- up against Union County helped push the Dragon’s to the championship game against Anderson County. - Tony Cox
Cole Russell’s big second half helped the Anderson County High School boys basketball team, the No. 1 seed in the District 4-AAA Tournament, earn the right to host a Region 2-AAA game Saturday.

Russell scored all 12 of his points after halftime to help the top-seed Mavericks notch a 56-55 victory over the host Scott Highlanders Friday night in the tournament semifinals in Huntsville.

Russell knocked down four 3-pointers after halftime to help the Mavericks (20-9) erase an 11-point deficit against Scott after the break.

He put the finishing touches on Anderson County’s comeback win as he buried a long-range jumper with 2.6 seconds remaining in the contest.

The Mavs outlasted the Highlanders but their business in the district tournament wasn’t quite finished at press time.

Anderson County, which got 17 points from Hayden Craig against Scott, was set to play rival Clinton Tuesday, but early on Friday, the Mavericks would get the chance to defend their 2022-23 district title.

“In the first half, Scott High played really well and they made it really hard for us,” Anderson County coach Jordan Jeffers said. “We did not play well in the first half.

“They outscored us by 11 points in the first half and we outscored them by 12 points in the second half.”

The Mavericks and the Dragons (11-14) will both host regional elimination quarterfinal games Saturday (tipoff is tentatively scheduled for 7 p.m.), but the winner of Tuesday’s game earned the right to host the entire Region 2-AAA Tournament.

“That game (was) important and everybody (knew) it,” Jeffers said. “Home court is important and staying opposite (of defending state champion) Fulton is big.

“It won’t be easy because Clinton will be playing in their fifth straight district championship game and (Clinton coach) Chris (Lockard) does a great job.”

Lee’s 21 points leads Dragons to victory over Union County

Brandon Dake has been a key to the Mavericks offense all season long. Dake, a junior, set the school’s single game scoring record and three-point shot record earli- er in the 2023-24 season. - Tony Cox
For the fifth consecutive year, the Clinton High School boys basketball team will host a region tournament game. The Dragons earned that right by winning in the District 4-AAA Tournament semifinals late last week.

Clinton, the district tournament’s No. 2 seed, defeated Union County, 67-52, Friday night at Scott High School in Huntsville, but longtime CHS head coach Chris Lockard said the game against the third-seeded Patriots was closer than the final score indicated.

“Union County is really a tough guard. They’re good and they have good shooters,” Lockard said. “It was really a one possession game until with about three or four minutes to go.

“We made some shots and they didn’t. Our kids played really well. They defended well and they rebounded well.”

The game was close throughout as the Dragons (11-14) led, 19-16, at the end of the first quarter and had a 33-30 advantage at halftime. Clinton led, 49-46, heading into the final frame before pulling away.

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Dragons sending five to State Championship meet on Saturday

Clinton’s Deameion Leavell won by fall over Hayden Moore (Greeneville) in the quarterfi- nal round of Saturday’s sectional meet at Gibbs High School. - Tony Cox
Clinton High School’s boys wrestling team saw its successful 2023-24 season continue Saturday at the sectional championships.

The Dragons had five athletes advance to this week’s state championships in Franklin this weekend.

Clinton will be represented by Tanner Justice, Hayden Harrell, Riley Silk, Deameion Leavell, and Dalton Kendall at the Class A State Championships, which will be contested Friday and Saturday at the Williamson County Expo Center in Franklin.

Justice won the sectional championship in the 120-pound weight class Saturday at Gibbs High School in Corryton.

Harrell, who competes in the 144-point weight class, and Leavell, who wrestles in the 165-pound division, each finished second in their respective brackets, while Silk (150 pounds) and Kendall (215) each finished third in their respective weight classes.

Dragons’ coach Channing McDonald said that he was pleased with his squad’s showing in Northeast Knox County on Saturday.

“We had six wrestlers make it to sectionals and we’re sending five to the state, so I couldn’t be happier,” McDonald said. “I’m hoping to get some guys on the podium and I’m hoping to have a couple of state champions.

“This is big for our program.”

The Dragons will get a grand sendoff Thursday afternoon as they leave Clinton High to head to the Midstate.

“Our kids have had a great year and we’re going to have a parade for them at the end of the last block (class period) at the school,” McDonald said. “We’re going to have the parade for them about 3:30.”

“This is the first time that we’ve ever taken more than three wrestlers to the state.”

Mavericks sending six to Franklin for TSSAA State Championship meet

Anderson County’s Emery Presson won by technical fall over Austin Osborn of Sullivan East at Saturday’s sectional meet at Gibbs High School. Presson placed third for the Mavericks and scored 15.5 points for the team. - Tony Cox
A successful 2023-24 wrestling season continued for the Anderson County High School boys over the weekend.

The Mavericks competed at the Region 2-A Championships Saturday at Gibbs High School in Corryton.

ACHS had six athletes qualify for this week’s State Championships at the Williamson County Expo Center in Franklin. Competition opens Friday and concludes Saturday on the state’s grand stage.

The wrestlers heading to the state championships will be no strangers to the venue as the Mavericks competed in the State Duals earlier this month. Additionally, Josh Bingham (who competes in the 165-pound weight class) and Ayden Derry (190 pounds) were at the State Championships last year.

Bingham and Derry will be joined in the Midstate by teammates Tripp Haire (113 pounds), Emery Presson (144), Morgan Dye (215) and Eli Bratton (285).

Anderson County might’ve had two other qualifiers if not for injuries as Max Wolfley and Evan Prewitt, who have posted big victories for the Mavs this season, had their respective campaigns come to an early end this year.

“We had six guys qualify for state and I think we could’ve had a couple more if not for injuries,” ACHS coach Matt Slone said. “We’ve been there for the big schools (Class AA), and the big schools (division) is brutal.

“I think it will be tough in the small schools (division), but I’m expecting us to compete and we’re hoping to get some guys on the podium.”

The Mavs had a second-place finisher at the sectionals as senior Dye was runner-up in his weight class after losing the title bout by just one point.

Haire, Presson, Bingham and Derry all finished third in their respective weight divisions, while Bratton finished fourth in his bracket

Wildcats tame Bobcats

Oak Ridge redeemed in 77-33 victory

Ray’Quan Watson (11) had nine first half points in the Wild- cats first semi-final round of the District 3-4A tournament. Oak Ridge had a first-round bye in the tournament. The top-seeded Wildcats played Powell in the championship game Tuesday night. The score was unavailable at press- time. - Tony Cox
The returners on the Oak Ridge High School boys basketball team have long memories. And while preparing for their 2023-24 postseason debut, the Wildcats got a few reminders from coach Aaron Green, as

if they really needed them.

Last season, Knox Central upset the top-seeded Wildcats in the District 3-4A Tournament semifinals at Powell, forcing them to play for third place and go on the road for the Region 2-4A Tournament.

Neither Green nor his team wanted to see a repeat performance in Fountain City Friday night.

They made sure it didn’t happen that way.

“Every team and every year is different and that really doesn’t affect this year,” Green said. “This one was different because it was on their home floor, but I’d be lying to you if I told you that we didn’t talk about it.”

Green must have had plenty to say leading up to the postseason rematch against the host Bobcats; and Oak Ridge’s players must have paid plenty of attention to their coach’s admonitions.

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Lady ‘Cats are district champs

The Lady Wildcats (20-7) won their third consecutive District 3-4A Championship as they defeated Campbell County, 49-31, Monday night at Knox Central High School. With the win over the Lady Cougars, ORHS completed a second straight perfect run through their district regular-season and tournament schedule.

Oak Ridge opened tournament play with a big first half in the semifinals, but a postseason halftime lead, no matter how large, is never big enough to take for granted. And that’s just what Oak Ridge High School girls basketball coach Paige Taylor told her team midway through the district tournament semifinals Thursday night.

“We were up by 20 points at halftime and a 20-point lead is never enough,” Taylor said after the Lady Wildcats beat Knoxville Halls, 72-31, in the semifinals of the District 3-4A Girls Basketball Tournament at Knox Central High School. “Halls was down 15 against Powell (in a first-round elimination game on Tuesday, Feb. 13) and they came back and won the game.”

The Lady Devils, the tournament’s No. 5 seed earned the right to play No. 1 Oak Ridge thanks to a second-half rally that netted them a 56-55 victory over the fourth-seeded Lady Panthers and a berth in the upcoming Region 2-AAA Tournament, which gets underway Friday.

The Lady Wildcats opened a 20-8 lead in the first quarter. They would extend their advantage to 40-20 by halftime.

After allowing 20 points to the Lady Devils (11-19) in the first half, the Lady Wildcats surrendered just 11 points the rest of the way.

Oak Ridge held Halls without a field goal over the final eight minutes, surrendering just two points in the fourth quarter.

Oak Ridge, conversely, had no trouble manufacturing offense. The Lady Wildcats boasted a potent and balanced offensive attack as they had four players post double figures in the scoring column. Junior guard Ze’Yana Stewart scored 17 of her 19 points in the first half.

Ayana Porter led all scorers with 20 points, including 12 after halftime. Jenna Johnson added 11 points and had seven in the second half, while Euleesha Mitchell finished with 10, including six after the break.

The Lady Devils were only to stay as close as they did because Olivia Culp knocked down four 3-pointers, including three long-range jumpers before halftime. Culp, one of the area’s top shooters, scored 14 points. Biliter had eight points for Halls, which won the third-place game over Karns Monday night.

The Lady Wildcats will host William Blount Friday at 7 p.m.

Gaddis, Wright named to Tenn. Secondary Sports Hall of Fame

A pair of coaches with area ties will be inducted into the Tennessee Secondary Sports Hall of Fame.

Joe Gaddis and Jody Wright will be inducted on Monday, April 8, at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro. The induction begins at noon (ET) at the Student Union and will the ceremony will honor the new class as well as the past inductees.

Gaddis, now the athletic director at Oak Ridge High School, was a high school football coach for nearly five decades. He was a head coach at seven schools over 39 years. He served two stints as head coach at ORHS and guided the Wildcats to a state championship in 1991. Under his guidance, Oak Ridge was also the 2020 Class 5A runner-up.

Throughout his career, Gaddis won 334 games, compiling a lifetime record of 334-126. He had a career record of 296-105 in the Volunteer State.

His coaching career began in the 1970’s and over that time he has won the A.F. Bridges TSSAA Region 2 Male Coach of the Year. He has also been recognized as the East Tennessee Coach of the Year twice.

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Moog signs with University of Cumberlands

Eight others sign letters of intent on Signing Day

Anderson County running back/linebacker Nick Moog signed to continue his student and athletic career at the University of Cumberlands in Williamsburg, Kentucky. He was joined by: (front row, from left) Kathy Toole, Chris Moog (father), Nick Moog, Lisa Doughty (mom) and Ryan Moog. Back row: John Pelfrey and Marshall Hufham. - Tony Cox
National Signing Day was busy across the Volunteer State on Wednesday, Feb. 7 and several area high school football players officially announced their plans to continue their athletic careers and further their respective educations at the next level.

Anderson County’s senior running back and linebacker Nick Moog had his signing ceremony last week as he final plans to play at the University of the Cumberlands in Williamsburg, Kentucky.

Moog said that he is excited to be moving on to play at the NAIA school in Williamsburg.

“It was a long process,” Moog said. “I’ve been thinking about where I wanted to go since I was little.

“What really pushed me is (that) I went up on a visit there, and I really fell in love with the campus and the coaching staff, and of course, I love to play football.”

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Girls wrestle at sectional meet

Connor makes statement for Lady Mavericks

Anderson County High School’s girls wrestling team concluded its 2023-24 season last week at the sectional championships in Johnson City Friday night.

The Lady Mavericks had four grapplers, including three seniors, in contention for berths in the 2023-24 state championships, which will be contested this weekend at the Williamson County Expo Center in Franklin.

ACHS senior Kennley Reid, who competes in the 138-pound weight class, came up just short of making a trip to the Midstate this weekend. Reid has been wrestling for six years, first taking up the sport in middle school.

“Kennley was one win away from making it to the state,” Anderson County coach Matt Slone said. “She did well.”

Reid was one of three seniors that ended their high school careers in North East Tennessee on Friday. Brianna Merryfield (145 pounds) and Emily Fairbank (114), concluded their high school careers at the sectionals.

Freshman and first-year wrestler Danielle Connor made a big impression at her first-ever sectional championships appearance. Connor, who competes in the 120-pound weight class, took the eventual sectional champion to overtime.

“I was really impressed with her,” Slone said of Connor. “She really impressed me because she took the girl who ended up winning the tournament to overtime.”

Lady Dragons have bright future in wrestling

Clinton High School’s girls wrestling team sent five athletes to the state sectionals late last week.

None advanced to this weekend’s state championships in Franklin, but that didn’t diminish the accomplishments that the Lady Dragons achieved on the mats during the 2023-24 campaign.

“None of them made it to the state. They just came up a little short in the blood round (the round preceding the medal rounds),” Clinton coach Channing McDonald said. “But I’m happy for the girls and I’m excited for the future.

“I think our girls are heading in the right direction and I’m excited about their future as Lady Dragons.”

Clinton wrestlers that competed at the sectionals at Science Hill High School in Johnson City Friday night included: Maggie Lloyd (who wrestles in the 107-pound weight class); Alyssa Gonzalez (who competes in the 114-pound division); Kayla Crutcher (126 pounds); Ace Johnson (185 pounds) and Lady Dragons’ heavyweight Janelle Cassado.

Tight-knit Senators’ ‘light flipped on’ in State Tourney run

Norris Middle School boys basketball coach Travis Tummel makes it no secret that his philosophy is different than most other coaches.

“I have a different philosophy than other people,” Tummel said. “I’m more about teaching kids how to play basketball than I am about teaching them how to run plays.

“When it’s loud, they can’t always hear me, but they know how to play.”

That philosophy paid dividends for the Senators, who recently concluded their 2023-24 season on the Volunteer State’s grand stage, the TMSAA Class AA Tournament in Smyrna.

Norris had a tough draw when it opened tournament play against Thompson’s Station Middle School on Friday, Feb 9, at Stewarts Creek Middle School in Smyrna.

Thompson’s Station, which would eventually win the 2024 state title on Feb. 10, defeated the Senators, 51-26, in the state semifinals.

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