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Saturday Morning Quarterback
Feb 20, 2007 12:00 am
We've entered the fun time of year for high school basketball.
For those teams not already eliminated, it's a time of anticipation to see how far through the minefield of tournament play they can advance.
The last couple of years, we've had teams go all the way – Mt. Juliet's girls two seasons ago and Wilson Central last year. And both are strong favorites to possibly run the table again.
The Associated Press poll [the final one of the season will come out Monday] has Greeneville at No. 1, followed by Mt. Juliet just four points behind. Both received five first-place votes while No. 3 Central got four firsts.
The Lady Wildcats have beaten both teams ahead of them, as well as No. 5 Shelbyville [twice], No. 8 Smyrna and No. 9 Antioch. They have lost to Smyrna and No. 6 Riverdale in the TSSAA Hall of Champions game, a loss they're not counting, though many media outlets are. They've also lost to Knoxville Webb, the top-ranked team in Division II.
Mt. Juliet hasn't played as many top-10 teams during the season. But the Lady Bears have done just as well in those type of games when they've come up, sweeping Smyrna and knocking off Central once.
In other words, Central and Mt. Juliet have a chance to give the state a first-hand look at what we are blessed to witness on a regular basis when the state finals roll around March 10.
Of course, many things can happen between now and then. Many a prohibitive favorite has stubbed his or her toe at just the wrong time. There are many teams capable to derailing one or both West Wilson rivals on the Road to the State Tournament as well as in the Glass House, officially known as Murphy Center.
A big game will be at 7 p.m. tonight at Beech when Central faces Smyrna in the District 9-AAA semifinals. For the Lady Wildcats and Bears to meet on the final night, they have to be in opposite brackets for next week's Region 5-AAA tournament. They met in the region semis last year with Central dethroning the Lady Bears. Assuming [yes, I know what that word stands for] Mt. Juliet beats Beech on the Lady Bucs' home floor, a Central win would set up a Wilson County district final, assuring them of being in opposite brackets in the region. If one wins and the other loses today, then one would have to win and the other lose on Monday.
District 9-AAA has historically been stronger than its District 10 counterpart in the regional, though there are teams capable of springing an upset. Then a team from the Nashville area - Antioch and Hillsboro appear to be the strongest teams there, though McGavock and/or Brentwood are also possibilities – awaits in the sectional.
And the region runner-up can will win on the road in the sectional. Mt. Juliet and Central both won sectional games in Nashville during their championship seasons.
Then comes the State. The TSSAA pre-determines the brackets based on a blind draw. The only rule – teams from the same region must be placed in opposite brackets.
Once in Murfreesboro, Greeneville, Shelbyville, Cleveland or Riverdale could await, though Shelbyville, Cleveland and Riverdale are in the same sectional from which only two teams can emerge.
A lot of traps await Mt. Juliet and Central. But if they make their way through the minefield, what a weekend it will be in early March.
Wilson County basketball would be the winner.
Sports Editor Andy Reed can be reached at 444-3952 ext. 17 or by e-mail at email@example.com.