MURFREESBORO - Waiting has been the hardest part for Cannon County.
Anticipation of the Lionettes' first state tournament appearance in 19 years subsides today when No. 8 Cannon County (29-7) faces No. 2 Elizabethton (34-1) in the TSSAA Class AA Girls State Tournament at Murphy Center. Tipoff is 11:30 a.m.
"The hardest part has been waiting for the tournament to start," Cannon County sixth-year Head Coach Michael Dodgen said. "We are ready to tip it off and play basketball."
To help prepare his players for the atmosphere they will encounter when they step on the court, Dodgen took his players to watch some of Wednesday's action.
"All of us have been so ready to get out there and play," Lionette senior Emily Sissom. "Coming here and seeing this atmosphere makes you want to play even more. We can't wait to get out there."
As has been the case throughout the season, a large Cannon County contingent is expected to greet the Lionettes at Murphy Center. They have helped create a fervor throughout the county during a postseason run that has reached the state tournament for the first time since 1992.
"The community has been great. There have been signs all over the county and everyone has been so encouraging," senior Taylor King said. "We knew we had a good support system but people are going out of their way to do crazy things. This has been awesome and we can't wait to play. It's hard to believe we are here."
The team is expected to receive a rousing send-off from the Cannon County student body this morning at 9:30 a.m. School will be in session Thursday but all students and employees who wish to attend the game will be allowed to sign out starting at 10 a.m. Pep buses are available for students who may not have other transportation to the game.
The game will be broadcast by TSSAA Network on PBS stations throughout the state for those who are unable to attend but would like to watch. Radio broadcasts and webstreaming is available on the TSSAA Network and tssaa.org.