Class AAA Tournament: Afternoon Four Preview


Posted On: 03/10/18 8:40 PM

The four teams comprising the “Afternoon Four” of the AAA Bracket followed very different paths to the State Tournament.  Teams marked with * are still alive.

Memphis East (16-0 against TN teams-38 straight wins against TN teams)

  • PATH
    • W, Ridgeway
    • W, White Station
    • W, Whitehaven*
    • W, Kirby
    • W, Ridgeway
    • W, Whitehaven*
    • W, Cordova
  • PEAK–November 25th.  This East team justifiably believed they would maneuver in to March unbeaten.  Knocking off Findlay Prep by 11 points proved their ambitions warranted.
  • PLOP–No loss hit the Mustangs harder than the Simeon loss.  It marked the third straight loss for the dynasty and sent Alex Lomax out of White Station’s gym in tears.
  • PROUDEST MOMENT–Prior to their unfortunate New Year losing streak, the East Mustangs defeated three straight quality City of Palms Classic opponents.
  • PREDICTION–  East dismantles Blackman’s exceptional defense, 73-41.  Blackman’s name could easily have been any AAA participant.  Nobody is touching the Mustangs this season or next, unless the roster endures an upheavel.   Blackman drew the death card last Tuesday.  I couldn’t get any AAA coach to admit the fear of landing East on the record, but the body language as the Blaze coaches found out their opening opponent was stiff and unblinking.

Blackman (An undefeated Blaze team met Memphis East in 2016 too)

  • PATH
    • W, LaVergne
    • W, Riverdale
    • W, Tullahoma
    • W, Oakland
    • W, Riverdale
    • W, Stone Memorial
  • PEAK–Always.    No other team managed to escape the rigors of the regular season and postseason (so far) unblemished.  Blackman was the model of consistency with an emphasis of team defense and defensive rebounding.
  • PLOP–It is silly to dissect an undefeated season.  If there must be a low moment, maybe the narrow victory at Siegel suffices (1/23).
  • PROUDEST MOMENT–February 9th. Don’t let that 32-0 record fool you.  Blackman faced certain doom in Oakland’s gym in their regular season finale.  It took a herculean defensive third quarter by the Blaze to overtake a talented Oakland bunch.
  • PREDICTION– A proud Blackman team loses, 41-73.  The Blaze benefit from a hometown crowd.  As good as Brandon Thomas and Trenton Gibson are, six East players are deservedly higher ranked within their class.  Little can derail the Mustang stampede.

Mt. Juliet (Seniors exorcised their Sectional demons, winning their first in 4 tries)

  • PATH
    • W, Portland
    • W, Wilson Central
    • W, Lebanon
    • W, Kenwood
    • W, West Creek
    • L, Clarksville Northeast*
    • W, Franklin
  • PEAK–Late February.  The advancement to Region 5AAA Championship required an impressive win over West Creek.  The Northeast falter provided a speed bump to the state run.
  • PLOP–December 12th.  Scoring a measly 37 points at Siegel soured the stockings of Mt. Juliet.  Fortunately, they recovered with a nice win at Oakland two nights later.
  • PROUDEST MOMENT–March 5th.  Winning in a hot Franklin Rebel gym took some courage.  Mt. Juliet needed to face more than the five men on the floor and they did.
  • PREDICTION–The Golden Bears fall, 50-59.  Mt. Juliet boasts an important piece in Isaac Stephens and they run out veteran guards.  Stopping Bearden requires even more.  Trent Stephney and Ques Glover are incredible scorers.  In one of their lowest scoring games of the year, Mt. Juliet will play well until late when the Bulldogs make the offensive plays that matter.

Bearden (Eclipsed 90 six times)

  • PATH
    • W, William Blount
    • W, Maryville
    • W, Karns
    • W, Oak Ridge
    • W, Powell*
    • W, Dobyns-Bennett
  • PEAK– Early February.  The runnin’ dogs clamped their canines on Maryville, Farragut, Cleveland, and Austin-East within a prolific seven day period.
  • PLOP–December 29th.  Bearden dropped a three-point game in the Arby’s Classic to Columbus (MS).
  • PROUDEST MOMENT–Clipping Cleveland early December poised the Bulldogs to alpha dog.
  • PREDICTION–The Bearden guards are “handcuffed” and held under 60 for the fifth time this season, 59-50.



Memphis East (26-3)
Game 3
Wed. Mar. 14 1:15 PM
 Blackman (32-0)
Game 6
Fri. Mar. 16 11:30 AM

Mt. Juliet (27-7)

Game 4
Wed. Mar. 14 2:45 PM
 Bearden (37-1)