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Thu, Jul 24, 2014

JORDAN: Few surprises lead up to district tournament

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This has been a most unusual year in girls and boys district basketball.

But those 10 games determined the seeding for the district tournament, slated for Thursday, Feb. 14, through Monday, Feb. 18, in the Harry Gill Gym at Smyrna High School.

Why was it unusual? There was not one true upset all year; 60 games and nary a big surprise.

In girls, Riverdale (25-0, 10-0) is playing great.

The Lady Warriors have four starters with more than 110 points against district competition, even though Olivia Jones missed two games, their press has been very good, and they are getting a lot more from their bench than they got last year. They also rebound well and always commit fewer turnovers than the opposition.

The red and gold haven’t lost in more than 13 months. Against the district, Riverdale has the No. 1 offense (59 points a game) and the No. 1 defense at 39 points allowed a game.

The Blackman Blaze have had an exceptional year at 8-0 in the district and 23-2 overall. They are quick, well coached, mentally tough and may get two more chances at the Warriors.

Oakland is 20-4 (6-4) and is the tournament wild card.

When freshman Shelby Gibson finally returned from injury the Lady Pats got better. Gibson is strong and a fine rebounder, and she has smarts and can score. She brings Oakland much closer to Blackman and Riverdale. The team could play either one or both again.

Blackman and Oakland are virtually tied for the No. 2 district offense at 56 a game, and Oakland gives up 44 a game and Blackman 45. Now that is close.

Smyrna has the home floor for the tournament and is tied with Siegel with a 3-7 district record and 8-17 overall with a game Monday.

Siegel is 17-10 overall. Coach Alan Bush likely will not get the coach of the year award but might deserve it. His team overachieves and plays with class and effort.

La Vergne gets the last seed for the tournament and deserves it, I’m afraid. I wish Coach Kim Francis could play; the talent simply isn’t there to upset anyone.

So, who’s going to win and advance to the region?

In round one, Smyrna might overcome its numerous injuries and beat Siegel. The two teams split their games this year so it’s close. Also in round one, Oakland will beat La Vergne.

Riverdale will beat the Smyrna-Siegel winner in round two.

Blackman will beat Oakland-La Vergne winner in round two. This could easily be the best girl’s game in the tournament and under no circumstances are you to hold me to this prediction. Remember I love everyone. I like Oakland to finish in third place.

Riverdale wins the finals no matter who they play, but remember four teams advance to the region.

We had some surprises in boys but no upsets.

Blackman (24-0, 10-0) didn’t lose, Siegel (23-3, 8-2) beat everyone but Blackman and finished second, while La Vergne (17-9, 6-4) did exactly as expected and finished third with Oakland (16-9, 4-6) in fourth. Riverdale (9-15, 2-8) beat Smyrna (11-13, 0-10) twice and finished fifth while the Bulldogs finished last.

True there were some scares during the district season.

Riverdale scared Oakland at least once, La Vergne came within eight points of Blackman and two of Siegel. Smyrna lost to Oakland by one in overtime and La Vergne beat Oakland by eight. Siegel victories got closer after Robert Brandon got hurt but still no upsets.

And the winner is?

Oakland should beat Riverdale a third time, and La Vergne will beat Smyrna also for a third time.

That would leave us with Blackman playing Oakland and Siegel taking on La Vergne. Blackman and Siegel will both be favored to win and advance to the finals.

La Vergne will be favored to win the third-place game, but it won’t be by much.

Against district competition, Siegel has the No. 1 offense at 68 a game and Blackman is No. 2 at 67 a game. The No. 1 defense belongs to Blackman at 41 a game and La Vergne is No. 2 at 55 a game.

Blackman versus Siegel in the finals should be another terrific match up for a final.

First, throw out the first Blackman-Siegel result. That game was a fluke. Trust me.

Remember too that Siegel’s Dominique Gooch saw very limited action in that game and Brandon’s previous injury left Siegel with little time to adjust.

These two teams are a lot closer than that first meeting even with Siegel’s best player, Robert Brandon again, injured and perhaps out for the season.

The second time the two teams played, Blackman led all the way but the margin was nine points or less most of the time and the game was tied 28-28 and 37-37 before the Blaze won 56-46.

Blackman should win again but don’t count on it.

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Basketball, Blackman, Dominique Gooch, La Vergne, Oakland, Robert Brandon, Rutherford County, Shelby Gibson, Siegel, Smyrna, Sports
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