Cheatham County Central will play Grainger (30-6) at 11:30 AM in the quarterfinal round of the TSSAA Class AA Girls State Playoffs. All games of the Division I Blue Cross Championships will be played at the Murphy Center on the campus of Middle Tennessee State University.
Grainger (30-6) beat Northview Academy in the Region 2 Sectional on Saturday, winning 44-36. Grainger actually was the runner-up in the Region 1 Championship to South Greene, but beat Northview Academy on the road to advance to the Elite Eight in Murfreesboro. Three of their six losses were to South Greene. They also lost to Creek Wood in a Christmas tournament on December 29. They made it to the Elite Eight three years ago, and lost in the quarterfinals. Region 1 is a tough region, so this will not be a pushover opponent at all.
Here is a capsule on the other six teams (broken down by game) who comprise the rest of the Elite Eight for 2018-19 in Class AA Girls:
10:00 AM Game: Macon County (30-5) versus Covington (28-5): Macon County has to be one of the favorites to win the championship. The state runner-up last year, Macon County has one of the best players in the state in junior Keely Carter, who gave Cheatham fits last year in the quarterfinals, by among other things, hitting 19 of 20 free throws. The Tigerettes have been to the state playoffs three consecutive years, so experience is definitely one of their strengths.
They know they can’t look past their quarterfinal opponent Covington, who has not lost since a Christmas tournament on Dec. 22 (18 in a row). They were champions of District 15AA, which includes teams like Bolivar, but the district was down a little this year. Covington were also Region 8AA champions, beating some tough Memphis teams. The Lady Chargers are led in scoring by Kaylynn Howard. The last Covington team to make the state playoffs was in 2012-13, and they lost (ironically) to Macon County in the quarterfinals.
1:15 PM Game: Marshall County (26-7) versus DeKalb County (23-11): Marshall County had some tough games on the way to making the state playoffs, beating two of the same teams Cheatham had to beat to get there: Creek Wood and East Nashville. The East victory was particularly surprising, especially by how big they led them at points in the game. Cheatham beat Marshall County last year in the sectional to make the Elite Eight. They haven’t been to the state playoffs since 2007-2008, when they won the Class AA championship. They have won four state championships in their history.
DeKalb County caught a little lightning in a bottle in the last two weeks, winning three of their last four games by a total of four points.Those wins including knocking off two-time defending state champion Upperman in the Region 4AA semi-finals, 36-35, before being blown out by Macon County, 51-27, in the region championship game. They beat McMinn Central by two points to make the Elite Eight.
2:45 PM Game: Westview (29-5) versus South Greene (28-4): Westview makes their seventh consecutive trip to the Elite Eight. but they are only 3-6 in those trips and haven’t been to a championship game. So the Lady Chargers are looking to get over the hump. They will need senior Raegan Johnson to have a big game, and big tournament, to get there.
South Greene battled with Grainger all year in District 2AA, and ultimately in Region 1AA, winning three of four games. They have only been in Class AA for two years, and won the Class A state championship three years ago. They have a deep tradition, with four state championships. But the last one was in the early ’90s. Stephen Gregg has been their coach for the last ten years.
PHOTOS BY the incomparable BILL CLARK for BOOM! SPORTS MEDIA TN