Going back more than seven decades Rutherford County had a super elementary basketball league and year-end tournament.
Once there were as many as 13 teams in the league, and number of them had long and impressive runs. The Kittrell and McFadden girls come to mind along with the Walter Hill boys.
Over the many years of its existence, just about everyone, from Barfield, Buchanan and Stewartsboro to Christiana, Lascassas, Rockvale and Eagleville, has won it at least once.
In its last year (played at Eagleville), the McFadden girls and Thurman Francis boys won it.
With the explosion of middle schools, all the elementary teams are gone except Thurman Francis and Eagleville, and the tournament is history.
But there is good news! The middle school league now has 11 schools and the tournament has its last four nights this week at La Vergne Middle.
There are 22 teams involved and seven were eliminated yesterday but that won’t stop me from making some guesses as to which girls and boys team will win this year.
Last year the Blackman girls led wire to wire and kept winning with a sectional and mid-state championship; they’re in the mix this year as well. The La Vergne boys won last year and they too are in the running this week.
Let’s start with the girls.
There is no real reason to pick anyone except the Rock Springs Lady Knights. Coach Terry Patient has done a super job for a number of years and has taken some good sixth graders from last year and molded them into a fine team.
The Lady Knights are 16-0 and 10-0 in the league.
It’s remarkable this group is the only unbeaten team (girls or boys) in the league and the starting five, Kesha Brady, Brandy Ferbi, Tyra Hughes, Kiyah Clark and Brianah Ferbi, are all seventh graders.
If Rock Springs doesn’t win, then Christiana, 17-1 (9-1) likely will.
Coach Cory Bransford says he’s having fun, his players are intense and working hard, and he’s honored to coach them.
I can see why.
The Cougars have Jazz Bond, a six foot, three inch center who can run the floor, alter or block shots, score herself, and, along with being smart, Jazz appears to be a good teammate despite all the attention a 1,000-point scorer draws.
Make no mistake the Cougars have plenty of other good players led by Kailyn Strawbridge, Madison Compton, Aaliyah Patterson and Ashlyn Lokey.
Christiana’s only loss was to Rock Springs by the very close score of 31-26. They could meet in the finals or someone else may surprise us.
The most likely to do so would be Coach Charlotte Peay’s Oakland Chargers. They are having another good year.
Come to think of it, they’ve never had a bad year. Anyway, the Chargers are 12-3 overall and 8-2 in league play.
The starting five, Ansley Eubank, Becca Stockton, Elania Smith, Olivia Rogers and Jackie Powlis average more than 40 points a game and are a solid team.
Be prepared to play the full four quarters to beat Oakland.
The boys seed came down to a three-way tie for first broken by those coin flips that all coaches love. Rockvale won the flip for the No. 1 seed.
Omar Smith, one of the exciting young coaches in the league, has the 12-6 Ravens playing well as they are 8-2 in league play.
The starting five, Ken Collins, Christian Dewitt, Jacob Nelson, Brandon Somerville and A.J.Garza (the leading rebounder) can play defense and they average more than 42 points a game. They are on pace to break many school records including points per game.
Collins and Dewitt lead the scoring but others have stepped up and bench play has been good as 18 players scored this season. This could be their first tournament win and they are a definite threat to get it.
Siegel (12-4; 8-2) is coached by Patrick Stoecker who has coached girls, boys or both since Siegel opened. Over the years the Cavaliers have been very successful.
This squad has been a particular joy to watch.
Point guard and leading scorer Brian Norman is playing well and he is really helped by two other perimeter players, Julian Martin and Braxton Eddings, both can score.
Rob LaLance is the fourth starter and his strength is rebounding. The center spot is split, as the super fast Grant Turner (14 points in a recent game) shares time with the defensive minded Conner Wilkerson, who has blocked 26 shots this season.
Stewarts Creek (15-3; 8-2) is coached by Brian Turner who has done an outstanding job for the Falcons from day one.
This squad and the starting five – point guard Desmond Sales, guards Ikenna Okeke, and the leading scorer Omar Lyons along with the “bigs” Jordan McCroskey and Jalen Eady – can put up points, but this team is based on defense, especially from Okeke and on Sales running the point and not turning the ball over.
I’m going with the Christiana girls (a tiny upset) and the Siegel boys, but someone else, Rockvale or Oakland perhaps or someone totally unexpected, may get hot and walk away with a trophy.
Naturally my opinion doesn’t matter.
Basketball is a tournament game and full of upsets and surprises.
Check out the schedule for game times for the league tournament and remember the sectional tournament, featuring many other mid-state teams, will be at Stewarts Creek Feb. 7, 9 and 11. More later.
Correction: This article listed Jazz Bond's height incorrectly. The Post regrets this error.