Hunter: Tough push to regionals

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The postseason is here with this week's District 8AA tournament at Tennessee Tech in Cookeville, and both Cannon County High School basketball teams have a lot of work to do to qualify for the region tournament starting Feb. 24 at TBA.

Remember the last four standing out of eight very competitive teams will survive and advance to the next phase in the TSSAA postseason. For the Lions and Lionettes it has been a tough week with two key district losses, including one by the girls' basketball team on Feb. 7 against a Murfreesboro Central Magnet team who came ready to play even after locking down No. 8 seed.

As of Feb. 9, the final night of the 2016-17 regular season, the Lionettes have a good chance to qualify for the No. 5 seed in next week's district tournament. However, they had to defeat current No. 4 seed Livingston Academy at Robert A. Harris Gymnasium on senior night to improve to 5-9 in the final district standings.

However, the Lionettes fell to the Lady Wildcats, 69-53 to finish the season with a district record of 4-10, which earned them the No. 6 seed and a date with No. 7 seed DeKalb County on Monday night at 6 p.m. A win will earn CCHS a chance to advance to the region tournament with a win over the No. 3 seed in the next round on Wednesday at 6 p.m.

Also, the two teams, York and DeKalb County, who were tied with CCHS for No. 5 heading into the last game of the regular season had tougher matchups against No. 1 seed Upperman and No. 2 seed Macon County respectively on the same night, Feb. 9. All three teams wound up losing.

Only two players are still playing for the Lionettes from that magical team that advanced to the state tournament two seasons ago, senior Samantha Gaither and junior Maleah Scott, while most of the players with significant playing time this season will be experiencing what TSSAA postseason play for the first time.

Odom will be relying on those two to pass down advice on how to handle playing in the postseason in one of the toughest districts in the state.

"We will be looking to Gaither to being a calming influence and portray the message, just because it's the tournament, we do not do anything different," Odom said. "We approach it like any other game, and drawing on her past experiences will be key to help keep our younger players calm, cool and collected.

The Lions will be the No. 8 seed, but it can be done.

You never know who will win, that is what makes the postseason so great.

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David Hunter column
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