By JESSE SMITHEY
It’s going to be a late night of basketball Wednesday for a couple of teams from the 5Star Preps Coverage Area playing the TSSAA BlueCross State Basketball Championships.
Meigs County and Grainger will play the two night contests at MTSU’s Murphy Center.
Here’s what to look for…
MEIGS COUNTY (21-4) vs. WESTVIEW (26-1)
Class AA quarterfinal, 7 p.m. Central
THE SKINNY: This one is experience vs. the (sort of) newcomer. Westview is making its ninth consecutive state tournament appearance and 16th overall, though it has just one title (1996) to its credit. Jada Harrison, a 5-foot-8 point guard, is their top player. She averages 17.1 points per game, the lone player on the team who averages double figures in scoring. That being said, she also leads the team in assists (103) and steals (52). What’s scary is: she’s just a sophomore and already has three SEC scholarship offers. Westview enters on a 22-game win streak.
Meigs County, after losing in the state sectionals the previous four seasons, finally broke through and will make its first state tournament appearance since 2014. Meigs County won it all in 1993 and 1995. While Meigs won’t be the tournament favorite entering play, they enter with a 16-game win streak and will go as far as Jacelyn Stone (12.3 ppg, 3.5 apg) will take them.
FRIDAY SEMIFINAL OPPONENT: Grainger (33-3) or Maplewood (11-1)
GRAINGER (33-3) vs. MAPLEWOOD (11-1)
Class AA quarterfinal, 8:30 p.m. Central
THE SKINNY: The Grainger Lady Grizzlies are back again in The Boro, making the program’s third consecutive appearance in the Class AA bracket and fifth in the last seven years. There should be no shock factor involved. They’ll know what to expect and what it’s like to try and score in a college arena. Grainger comes in riding plenty of momentum, as it has won 22 of 23 games. Back for another shot at state glory are standouts Tori Rutherford (11.6 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.6 steals, 3.9 assists) and Lauren Longmire (11.8 points, 4.6 rebounds). They remember how close Grainger got to rallying for a first-round state tournament win last season against Westview, only to fall 43-38.
Their opponent, Maplewood, hasn’t had much of a sample size for team’s to scout this season, as Covid restrictions in the Nashville area didn’t allow it a full season. They have a short rotation, just six or seven players. But four of their starters average double digits and the fifth averages 9.2 points per game. Keep an eye on No. 21 Daryana Thompson. The 6-2 senior forward averages 10.5 points, 11.2 rebounds and 5.5 blocks per game. LaRose Morrow, a senior guard, leads the team in scoring (15.8 points) while dishing out 5.5 assists per game. Maplewood won’t be fazed by the environment, much like Grainger won’t. The Lady Panthers won 31 games last season and reached the Class AA state quarterfinals, falling to Macon County.
FRIDAY SEMIFINAL OPPONENT: Meigs County (21-4) or Westview (26-1).