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South faces Pearl Cohn in first foray into state tourney

Douglas Fritz • Mar 10, 2020 at 10:30 PM

KINGSPORT — Getting there was hard enough, yet potentially bigger challenges await.

Sullivan South drew Nashville’s Pearl Cohn for its quarterfinal matchup in next week’s TSSAA Class AA boys basketball tournament in Murfreesboro. The Rebels (30-5) will meet the Firebirds (25-3) at 5:30 p.m. on March 18 in Murphy Center.

South coach Michael McMeans said Pearl Cohn is tough.

“They have a Mr. Basketball finalist (Tyrone Marshall),” McMeans said. “They will be long, athletic, press us and look to get up and down the court. It will be important for us to stay under control and do what we do.”

McMeans said point guard Marcus Fitzgerald Jr. is one of the best in the state. He has committed to Tennessee State but has also been offered by East Tennessee State, according to 247Sports Composite.

This is the first-ever state appearance for the Rebels, who finished as the Region 1-AA runner-up before going on the road to knock off Region 2-AA champion Alcoa in Monday’s sectional round.

South and Greeneville made the final eight from Region 1, marking the first time that Knoxville failed to have a representative in the Class AA tournament, which began with the 1975-76 season.

Pearl Cohn has won 17 straight games against Division I opponents and has just one loss against a public school.

On the same side of the bracket with South is defending champion Wooddale (26-6), which will play York Institute (25-8) on March 18 at 7 p.m.

In Class A, Hampton also got a tough draw. The Bulldogs play 2018 state champion Loretto (27-5), which has won 22 straight, on March 19 at 3:45 p.m.

Hampton (26-10) is in the field for the first time since 2016. On the same side of the bracket with the Bulldogs are Monterey (27-7) and Booker T. Washington (27-4). Booker T. Washington hasn’t lost to a Class AA or Class A team this season. It lost two of three games against Class AAA state tournament entrant Memphis Whitehaven.

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