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Didn’t see that coming: 7 surprises from hoops season

Douglas Fritz • Feb 18, 2020 at 12:30 PM

With the regular season in the books, here is a brief look at some of the unexpected things that stood out in the 2019-20 basketball season — ranked in order of the level of surprise.

1. Lady Longhorns rising — Johnson County girls basketball has enjoyed a few moments here and there, but a 21-win season is something few people outside of coach Leon Tolley and his players could have imagined.

2. Double overtime — It was a thrill-a-minute encounter between David Crockett’s Lady Pioneers and Science Hill on Jan. 10 in Jonesborough, and arguably the best game of the year. The 69-65 decision went in the favor of the Lady Hilltoppers despite four or five times when it looked like they were beaten.

3. Freshman sensation — It’s uncommon for a freshman to immediately find the spotlight, and what Unicoi County’s Lucas Slagle pulled off this year was extremely rare. He dominated on the glass against older players every night, leading Northeast Tennessee in rebounds with 12.5 per game.

4. 10-2 — When Elizabethton’s boys were 3-2 in Three Rivers Conference play and 4-12 overall, who could have foreseen the Cyclones finishing with double- digit league wins?

5. 27-3 — Yes, Science Hill’s boys were expected to be good this season. But who saw a team that would be just 16 points away from 30-0?

6. Freshman sensation II —Unaka girls coach Kenneth Chambers doesn’t pull any punches when making out the schedule. Despite the tough road, freshman Lyndie Ramsey averaged over 15 points per game.

7. Return to yesterday — The Science Hill boys’ overtime wars with Dobyns-Bennett were two of the best games of the season. It was a throwback to the days when these teams seemed to play game after game with electric atmospheres and heart-thumping finishes.


District tournament action dominates the schedule this week with the 1-AAA event wrapping up Saturday. The 1-AA and 1-A tournaments conclude Feb. 24 (girls) and Feb. 25 (boys).

Region quarterfinals are scheduled for Feb. 28 (girls) and 29 (boys). The highest-seeded team in each matchup will play host for those contests.

Each region tournament moves to a single site for the semifinals (March 2-3) and finals (March 4-5). The 1-AAA is at Morristown East, the 1-AA is at Grainger in Rutledge and the 1-A is at Walters State in Morristown.

Girls sectional contests are scheduled for March 7 and the boys play their sectional round on March 9.

The TSSAA tournament for the girls is set for March 11-14 in Murfreesboro. The boys’ tournament event from March 18-21.


David Crockett has a new volleyball coach: former Sullivan South player and Science Hill assistant coach Heather Harvey McCann.

“Coach McCann is a tremendous hire for our school,” said Crockett athletic director Josh Kite. “She possesses a substantial amount of knowledge, and I know she will take this volleyball program to new heights. She lives here locally and will be a great asset to our community.”


The individual state tournament gets underway Thursday at the Williamson County Agricultural Exposition Arena in Franklin. The Class AAA event begins at 4 p.m.

Action continues with the semifinals in all classifications set for Friday at 6 p.m. The championship matches are slated for 4:30 p.m. on Saturday.


Sullivan South’s Camden Necessary made his college choice last week. The Rebels’ standout lineman signed to play football for UVA-Wise. ...

A pair of Tennessee High athletes made their next-level choices last week. Daniel Hicks signed to play baseball at Rhodes College and Trevor Dowdell made it official with Emory & Henry for football.


Dobyns-Bennett and David Crockett finished strong and each team moved up a spot in the final rankings of the season.

Team W-L Prv
1. Science Hill 27-3 1
2. Sullivan South 25-4 2
3. Dobyns-Bennett 16-11 4
4. David Crockett 19-9 5
5. Tennessee High 21-9 3
6. Hampton 21-9 6
7. Daniel Boone 14-11 7
8. Elizabethton 12-13 8
9. Sullivan East 15-14 9
10. Unicoi County 16-14 10


Johnson County moved up two spots to No. 8 in the final rankings of the season.

Team W-L Prv
1. Sullivan Central 27-2 1
2. Science Hill 22-7 22-7 2
3. Daniel Boone 16-10 4
4. Dobyns-Bennett 21-10 3
5. Cloudland 22-4 5
6. Sullivan East 20-10 6
7. Elizabethton 17-10 7
8. Johnson County 21-10 10
9. Volunteer 15-13 9
10. David Crockett 13-16 8