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INSIDE SPORTS: Middle school tournament brings out talent young, old

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Tournaments are usually fun and basketball is a tournament game.

Today we have less fun.

The TSSAA constant money grab has created something called “classics” where teams often go out of state if they want to play in a tournament.

In Rutherford County, consolidation in 1972 wiped out the old county tournament and the popular elementary tournament is also gone.

All is not lost, as Whitworth-Buchanan Middle School is playing host to the middle school tournament for the first time. Play started Tuesday and continues with four games Thursday, Jan. 24, and Friday, Jan. 25, with the final games scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 26. Check out our schedule and scoreboard.

The finals will be broadcast by tape delay on WGNS at 5:30 Saturday evening.

It’s an opportunity to see players before they get to high school and in many cases you can see former players coach.

In past years, you could have seen Blackman Middle girl’s assistant Coach Krystle Horton become a two-time champion at Central or Smyrna Middle boys Coach Bill Hockenberry play at Central and also become a champion. He picked up his 10th win of the year in the tournament’s first round.

Whitworth-Buchanan’s boys coach, Chris Hooper played at Lascassas and coached at Walter Hill with a championship, and then Central before going to the Yellow Jackets.

Let’s not forget my friend Corey Alley who also coached at Walter Hill before winning a championship for the Barfield Braves.

He’s now in his last year as the boy’s coach at Christiana Middle School.

Oakland Middle’s girls coach Charlotte Peay was a fine player at Kittrell as was Central’s girls coach Jennifer Jones.

Our high schools are full of former middle school players.

The Hunt sisters at Smyrna played at Rock Springs.

Blackman’s Jazz Bond played at Christiana, as did Riverdale's Thomaz Gray. As a matter of fact, four Riverdale starters played for the Cougars.

Riverdale’s Brad Woodson and Olivia Jones are Rockvale graduates and Taylor Vanderbilt of Smyrna played at Thurman Francis and Siegel’s Aden Burton and PJ Steward played at Siegel Middle.

Alex Johnson and Crystal Dangerfield of Blackman played just across the street at Blackman Middle, while Oakland’s Emily Eubank played at Siegel Middle and sister Ansley Eubank played at Oakland Middle.

Kyle Oliver of Oakland played at La Vergne Middle, while Riverdale’s 1,000 point scorer Tyisha Petty played at Christiana Middle where she also scored 1,000 points. There are dozens more but I’m running out of space.

Two fairly recent and famous graduates are Anne Marie Lanning (now coaching at MTCS) and David Price of the Tampa Rays. Maybe you’ve heard of them.

Before Lanning became a 1,000 point scorer, before she was a Sun Belt All Star and MTSU Champion, before she was a 2007 Riverdale State Champion, she was a champion at McFadden Magnet School.

Before Price was a Cy Young Award winner, before he won a ton of games at Vanderbilt, before he was the best pitcher in the league at Blackman (and a fine basketball player as well), he was an All-County player at Rockvale Elementary.

I’ll be thinking about these players and numerous others this week as the tournament continues at Whitworth-Buchanan.
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Basketball, Inside Sports, Jeff Jordan, Middle School, Tournament
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