Posted On: 02/28/18 9:34 PM

Thursday March 1st represents the onset of four massive Regional Championship games in Class AAA East.

Don’t just narrow your focus upon the presumed leading scorers.  The following players are critically important X-Factors for each of the eight teams.


Science Hill

Science Hill and Dobyns Bennett meet Thursday night for the fourth time this season.  The Tribe won in January and February, but Science Hill’s Hilltoppers captured one of their 24 wins against Dobyns-Bennett December 1st.

Dec. 1 Dobyns-Bennett D  W 50-41
Jan. 19  Dobyns-Bennett D L 58-60
Feb. 17 Dobyns-Bennett N 
D1AAA Championship at David Crockett, Jonesborough, TN
L 56-67
Feb. 24 Sevier County 
W 53-42
Feb. 27 Morristown East N 
R1AAA Semifinal at Jefferson County, Dandridge, TN
W 57-56
Mar. 1 Dobyns-Bennett N 
R1AAA Championship at Jefferson County, Dandridge, TN


Dobyns-Bennett Head Coach Chris Poore is the rarest of animals…the First Year Coach Regional Finalist.  Wordy title?  Sure.  Impressive?  Surely sure.  Just a year ago DB was 12-17.  Imagine a fantastic Region 1 AAA Championship appearance in his first year.

Coach Poore gets sparkling play from District MVP Marae Foreman.  Sophomore Charlie Browder deserves X-Factor prominence Thursday.  Browder provides integral minutes in the paint and the Toppers are going to attack his neighborhood.  Browder can rebound, defend, and offensively he catches high and finishes high.

Topper fans will never forget junior Jerriah Love’s last second floater to bounce Morristown East.  Alas, that was yesterday and Dobyns-Bennett is now.  How can they conquer the Tribe?

The 6-foot-0 David Bryant earns X-Factor dubbing.  Hardly a stranger to lighting up the scoreboard, DB figures to glisten against D-B.  The winner gets Powell/Bearden loser Monday March 5th.


The Bearden Bulldogs rival Blackman’s Blaze as favorites to advance to AAA State.  Expect juniors Trent Stephney (PrepHoopsTN Class of 2019 #42) and Ques Glover (2019 #32) to fill the cylinder.  Tuesday without Drew Pember available (injury), Bearden’s Roman Robinson poured in 18 points.  Roman Robinson is Bearden’s X-Factor in the Thursday home game.

Powell’s Panthers lost their first four games of the season.  Who cares?  Not a single Panther player or fan.

Powell Head Coach Gary Barnes accomplished a 76-45 record within the senior classes’ four years at Powell.  Seniors Josh Woods (PrepHoops #126), Westin Reynolds, Caleb Tripp, Cole Frost (PrepHoopsTN #133) are a big part of the Panthers’ seven game winning streak.

Caleb Tripp will score furiously.  Desmond Billingsley is a returning starter sure, but the junior makes so many intelligent decisions that he earns the X-Factor honor for Powell.

Both Powell (D3 #1) and Bearden (D4 #1) won their district championships.  Their seedings predicted this exciting matchup.

East Hamilton
Stone Memorial (at Rhea County HS)

District 5 third-seeded East Hamilton’s Hurricanes benefited from Cookeville’s upset of Cleveland.  Cleveland ran out a team of beasts.  They should have advanced all the way to state.  That East Hamilton did not meet the Raiders helped.

Give the X-Factor title to DaVae Hughley ( #95) .  Hughley gives his Hurricanes relentless rebounding and toughness.  Justin Dozier ( #42) will be great.  The 5-foot-9 guard can score in a variety of ways.

Stone Memorial features reigning Player of the Week Justin Headrick.  Expect the four other starters to be  Jared VanWinkle, Brett Newcome, Zack Street, Jack Eldridge.  Sophomore  Zack Street possesses good speed with the ball.  Facing a physical East Hamilton team players who can create separation will be key.  Street is that guy.

Riverdale (at Columbia Central HS)

Blackman handed the Riverdale Warriors three of their six losses in 2017-2018.  If the axiom of ‘it is hard to beat a team three times in a row,’ then what defines a fourth collision?  Riverdale’s motus operandi is tall, foreboding defense.  Facing average teams the Warriors don’t score like an elite team.  They tend to lean on strong defensive efforts.

Blackman bravely boasts one of the best defenses in the state.  Riverdale averaged just 46.3 ppg in the three Blackman games this season. In order to execute in the tight windows the Blaze afford offenses, Riverdale’s point guard Rashaad Thompson needs to special.

Thompson is a mobile 5-foot-11 lead guard.  With any luck, Thompson will be checked by Jordan Burchfield, not Trenton Gibson.  Blaze point guard Gibson might check Deron Perry.

Just over a week ago Riverdale truly challenged Blackman, leading 25-17 halfway home.  Unfortunately for the Warriors, Blackman rattled off a 19-10 fourth quarter to overtake them.

Blackman’s star forward Brandon Thomas only earns X-Factor status because somebody must challenge on the offensive glass.  With Brayden Siren, Elijah Cobb, and Maliek Mcallister the #2 seeded Warriors generally dominate the glass.  In low-scoring games second chances are at a premium.  If Thomas can crash and collect rebounds the highly efficient Blaze will find success.