The Murphy Center on the campus of Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro will be the site where 24 of the state’s top high school girls basketball teams converge Wednesday through Saturday in pursuit of Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association (TSSAA) Division I BlueCross Basketball Championships.
When the last assist has been dished and the final jump shot is drained Saturday night, three schools will emerge as they proudly hoist 2015 TSSAA state title trophies.
The cage action will begin at 10:00 a.m. Wednesday, when Bearden (30-4) meets Dickson County (32-2) in the first of four Class AAA quarterfinal games. That will be followed by Bartlett (22-10) and Oakland (27-6) at 11:30 a.m.
Bearden is paced by 6-foot-2 junior Anajae Stephney in both scoring (11 ppg) and rebounding (9.1 rpg), while 5-10 junior Chanler Geer distributes a team-high 3.8 assists a game.
Five-eleven junior Chassity Lea Lea Carter and 5-5 sophomore Emily Beard sport nearly identical scoring averages for Dickson County at 14.9 ppg and 14.8 ppg, respectively. Carter also averages a team-high 6.5 rebounds.
Oakland’s fortunes are led by 6-1 junior Shelby Gibson with team highs of 14.7 points and 7.4 rebounds a game, and 5-8 senior Paris Lawson with 4.6 assists.
The first afternoon contest convenes at 1:15 p.m., when Blackman (29-2) takes on Mt. Juliet (32-2).
Blackman, which won the 2014 Class AAA state title and was named “national champion” by various sources, returns a powerful team. The Blaze are led by 5-5 junior Crystal Dangerfield (15.4 points a game and a Miss Basketball finalist), 5-10 senior MeMe Jackson (9.1 ppg) and 6-0 senior Alex Johnson (14.9 ppg and also a Miss Basketball finalist) – all Division I college commits.
The Mt. Juliet Lady Bears are led by 6-0 twin seniors Ronjanae and Rae Degray, who average near-identical 18 points and seven rebounds, and 15.4 points and seven rebounds, respectively.
At 2:45 p.m., Morristown West (30-5) will tangle with Arlington (26-9) in the same class.
The Lady Trojans of Morristown West are led in scoring by 5-10 sophomore Sidney Newsome with a 14.2 average, and in rebounding by 6-1 junior Jaz Williams’ 6.5 per game.
Arlington is led in scoring by 6-0 junior Tori Sewell with 13 points a game, and in rebounding by 5-10 senior Mirrakohi Johnson with 7.5 caroms a contest.
At 4:30 p.m., Middleton (32-0) will put its undefeated record on the line against Pickett County (23-9) in the first of two Class A games. Community (22-9) and South Greene (29-6) wrap up the first day’s action at 6:00 p.m.
Middleton’s 5-3 senior point guard Averyale Joy is a Miss Basketball finalist who averages 15 points, 2.5 rebounds, four assists and five steals a game.
Meanwhile, Pickett County leans on 5-8 junior Jayna Ferrell (15 points and six rebounds), 5-6 sophomore Abbi Buck (13 points) and 5-6 junior Tristan McClellan (11 points and six assists).
Community’s 5-7 junior Sarah Pierce lights up the nets for 20.4 points a game, while 5-11 sophomore Erin Thompson pulls down a hefty 7.5 rebounds a contest.
The second day gets underway at 9:30 a.m., Thursday when Decatur County Riverside (24-9) goes up against Oliver Springs (28-6) in the first of two more Class A games. At 11:00 a.m., Houston County (33-1) tangles with Clarkrange (29-5).
Riverside is led by 5-9 senior Bree Linton, who averages 14.8 points and 7.3 rebounds, while 5-6 senior Holley Chumney contributes 10.6 points a game.
Houston County’s Abbey Dew is a 5-7 senior guard who averages 19 points, three rebounds, 4.5 assists and 3.5 steals a game. For her efforts, she has been named a Miss Basketball finalist. As a team, the Fighting Irish shoot 54 percent from the field.
Under the direction of legendary coach Lamar Rogers (1,102-235 in 39 years), the Clarkrange Lady Buffaloes are led statistically by two sophomores separated by a full foot in height – 6-3 Kara Meadows with 14.6 points and 9.3 rebounds per game, and 5-3 Lexi Smith with 5.3 assists.
The afternoon is devoted solely to Class AA games, starting with Grainger (27-6) vs. Westmoreland (31-5) at 12:30 p.m. At 2:15 p.m., McMinn Central (28-5) hooks up with Craigmont (27-6).
Six-foot Blake Lamb averages 18.5 points and 5.8 rebounds for Grainger, while 6-1 junior Ashlyn Hodge retrieves 6.6 stray shots per contest.
Westmoreland enjoys nearly identical scoring from two sophomores – 5-8 Karley Smith (10.8 ppg) and 5-10 Kaitlyn Norman (10.6 ppg).
The McMinn Central Lady Chargers are paced by 5-6 sophomore Jacobi Lynn, who averages 18.2 points a game, and 5-9 senior Ally Coleman with 5.2 rebounds per outing.
Westview (23-12) and undefeated Elizabethton (31-0) then collide at 3:45 p.m., followed by Nashville Martin Luther King (26-6) and Cannon County (24-9) at 5:15 p.m.
Youth is served for the Westview Lady Chargers, who are paced by 5-9 sophomore Lydia Prichett with 9.9 points a game, and 5-3 freshman Tasia Jones with 9.3 points per game.
Elizabethton is led by Miss Basketball finalist Kayla Marosites, who averages 21.2 points, 7.6 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 4.3 steals a game. Both her twin sister Kelci and she have surpassed the 1,000 career point mark.
Five-four senior Briana Smith averages 16.9 points, six rebounds, three assists and three steals for Martin Luther King, while 6-0 senior Jordan Majors averages 16.4 points and a whopping 13 rebounds.