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D-B, Central showdown good measuring stick for both

Douglas Fritz • Dec 17, 2019 at 2:00 PM

It’s still December, but Tuesday’s game in Blountville packs a pretty good punch.

Sullivan Central’s girls will play host to Dobyns-Bennett in an intriguing nonconference basketball contest. The Lady Cougars are 11-0 after Monday’s 55-47 win over Daniel Boone; the Lady Indians are 10-1.

Their game is scheduled to tip off at 6:30 p.m.

“This matchup is a great opportunity for both teams to benchmark where we are as we head into the Christmas tournaments and ultimately our conference play in January,” said D-B coach Bill Francis. “Our kids are excited to compete in a great environment against a great team.”

Francis said the Lady Cougars’ record is not deceiving.

“Central is for real, man,” he said. “They are very well coached, and what they do they do very well. Abbey Crawford and Peyton Sams are as good of a combo as there is around here. And they have several other players really stepping up for them.”

Central coach Kristi Walling said her team has a tough week with the back-to-back games against Boone and D-B.

“It’s tough having to prepare for two good teams, but we have prepared the best we can,” Walling said. “D-B is a very good team and very well coached, and they always have a good program.

“Our goal is to go out there and play the best we can and let it be a good ballgame. That’s why we schedule these games going into conference play: to help prepare us. I know this will be a big challenge for us.”

Francis said the reason his team has 10 wins already is because of teamwork.

“We do it by committee,” he said. “We play 10 kids and quite honestly any one of them on a given night can be the major contributor. Jabrea Johnson and Megan Ayers have really been consistent for us so far.”

WINNING WAYS

Clarkrange coach Lamar Rogers etched his name into the record books Friday.

In his 43rd season, Rogers earned victory No. 1,218 to become the winningest girls basketball coach in Tennessee history. Clarkrange defeated Pickett County 46-26. Rogers moved one win beyond the late Jim Smiddy, who rang up his total at Bradley Central.

Rogers is quite a distance from the all-time national mark, which is owned by Leta Andrews. She coached four schools in Texas to 1,416 victories between 1962 and 2014.

In the No. 2 spot is another Texas coach, Joe Lombard, who entered this season with 1,344 wins. Rogers could move into the No. 3 spot later this season. He needs nine wins to tie Texas coach Jerry English, who stopped coaching in 2017 with 1,227 victories.

STRONG HANDS

Elizabethton has enjoyed a lot of success at the receiver position through the years, and Parker Hughes joined an elite group during the Cyclones’ TSSAA Class 4A championship win over Springfield.

Hughes, a junior, became just the fourth 1,000-yard receiver in school history, finishing with 60 catches for 1,015 yards and 19 touchdowns.

Ryan Wetzel heads the list, totaling 1,075 yards in 2017. He is also first in catches with 85 and touchdowns with 21.

Conner Johnson (51 catches for 1,049 yards and 16 touchdowns in 2016) and Brad Jones (68 catches for 1,034 yards in 1991) are also on the short list.

HOLIDAY HOOPS

The 23rd annual Arby’s Ladies Holiday Hoops Tournament will run Thursday through Saturday at Viking Hall.

This year’s field features teams from four states, including the return of 2016 champion St. Joseph Central from Huntington, West Virginia, which has won nine of the last 12 state titles. Other big names are perennial powerhouse Riverdale out of Murfreesboro and Cherokee from Canton, Georgia.

Local teams are Sullivan South, Tennessee High, Virginia High and Gate City. Morristown East rounds out the eight-team field.

The championship game is scheduled for Saturday at 4:30 p.m.

COLLEGE SIGNING

Sullivan Central’s Peyton Sams made it official recently with Virginia-Wise. The 5-foot-6 senior signed to play basketball.

BASKETBALL OVERVIEW

Boys highlight games

Tuesday

Sullivan East at Sullivan South — It’s a battle for first place in the Three Rivers Conference. It’s a county rivalry and a pair of pretty good basketball teams. Enough said.

TOP 10 BOYS RANKINGS

Firing on all cylinders recently, with 100 points against Johnson County and 90 against Unicoi, Sullivan South moves into this week’s No. 2 spot:

Team W-L Prv
1. Science Hill 10-0 1
2. Sullivan South 9-1 3
3. Dobyns-Bennett 4-4 2
4. Tennessee High 8-4 4
5. David Crockett 8-2 5
6. Daniel Boone 7-3 6
7. Elizabethton 2-3 7
8. Hampton 5-3 10
9. Sullivan East 6-4 9
10. Happy Valley 4-2 8

Girls highlight games

Tuesday

Dobyns-Bennett at Sullivan Central

Wednesday

Happy Valley at Elizabethton — The Lady Warriors have a chance to establish themselves in the Three Rivers Conference title chase if they can handle a road trip to face the Cyclones.

TOP 10 GIRLS RANKINGS

Since a season-opening loss to perennial TSSAA Class 2A power South Greene, Cloudland has rocked eight straight wins. The Lady Highlanders move up to this week’s No. 6 position:

Team W-L Prv
1. Science Hill 5-1 1
2. Dobyns-Bennett 10-1 2
3. Sullivan Central 10-0 3
4. Daniel Boone 6-4 4
5. Cloudland 8-1 6
6. Unicoi County 9-3 7
7. Elizabethton 4-6 5
8. David Crockett 8-2 9
9. Sullivan East 7-6 10
10. Sullivan South 4-2 8
(tie) Happy Valley 6-3 NR