By TONY STINNETT/ Courier Sports Editor
After weeks of positioning for postseason seeding, the most exciting time of the high school basketball season is on the horizon.
The District 8-AA Tournament begins this week with several teams facing elimination. All games are at Cookeville High School.
Cannon County’s girls will not be one of those.
The No. 4-ranked Lionettes (24-4) will carry the No. 1 seed into the girls competition and do not play until Saturday’s semifinal round. Cannon County earned the top seed by virtue of securing the regular season championship. The Lionettes and Livingston Academy tied for the regular-season title but Cannon County won the tiebreaker by sweeping the Lady Wildcats during the regular season.
The regular-season championship carries a first-round bye in the district tournament and automatic berth into next week’s Region 4-AA Tournament.
The Lionettes will play the winner of No. 4 Smith Co. vs. No. 5 York.
“The good thing is that we are in the region and we are an automatic qualifer,” Lionettes Head Coach Michael Dodgen said. “We don’t have to worry about the pressure of a first-round game and in this district that is an advantage. It takes a little bit of the pressure off of you.”
Cannon County’s boys begin District 8-AA competition in a first-round game against York Friday at 7:30 p.m. The Lions are the No. 4 seed.
Cannon County has played its best basketball during the last three weeks of the regular season and faces a must-win game against the Dragons in order to keep its season alive.
The Lions (12-15) won both regular-season games against York.
“The kids are focused and understand what is at stake,” Lions Head Coach Matt Rigsby said. “We have been competing and we are mentally prepared and focused for what lies ahead. Execution is paramount in what we need to be doing.”
If the Lions survive their first-round game they will face No. 1 seed DeKalb County in the semifinals Saturday, as well as lock up an automatic berth in the Region 4-AA Tournament for the third time in five years under Rigsby.
District 8-AA Tournament
at Cookeville HS
6 - DeKalb vs. Livingston Acad., girls
7:30 - Central vs. Livingston Acad., boys
6 - Upperman vs. Central, girls
7:30 - Smith Co. vs. Upperman, boys
6 - York vs. Smith Co., girls
7:30 - York vs. Cannon Co., boys
3 - Girls - DeKalb/LA winner vs. Upperman/Central winner
4:30 - Boys - LA/Central winner vs. Smith Co./Upperman winner
6 - Girls - York/Smith Co. winner vs. Cannon Co.
7:30 - Boys - Cannon Co./York winner vs. DeKalb Co.
6 - Girls consolation game; 7:30 - Girls championship
6 - Boys consolation; 7:30 - Boys championship