Large field readies for Smoky Mountain Classic
Dec. 20, 2012 @ 11:16 AM
Gatlinburg-Pittman High School’s basketball programs are hosting their annual Smoky Mountain Classic basketball tournaments in Gatlinburg and Pittman Center beginning this Thursday.
The annual tournaments — which serve as primary fund-raiser for the Highlanders programs — will feature 16 girls teams and 15 boys squads in a quadrant of contests.
The girls teams will be split into two eight-team brackets, while the boys teams will be split into an eight-team bracket and a seven-team pool play group.
“This is probably the strongest tournament that The Smoky Mountain Classic has ever fielded,” G-P boys coach A.J. Bennett said.
“The girls’ side has got eight or nine teams that won over 20 games last year and a couple of teams that played for state championships. The boys’ side has got some really, really good teams as well.
“A couple of teams from Kentucky that were right there almost making the state tournament, and then you’ve got Miami Senior High School that’s always one of the top teams in Florida,” Bennett continued. “So we’re very excited about the talent that will be here. We’re hoping that some people in the area will want to come and see some really good basketball.”
Coming to the Smokies for Christmas time was a tempting proposition to many teams.
“I had three or four teams still calling me in November to see if anybody had dropped out, because they still wanted to come,” G-P girls coach Katie Parton said. “I guess people want to be able to come up to the mountains and be able to do some shopping right before Christmas.”
Gatlinburg-Pittman Lady Highlanders
Summary: The Lady Highlanders are a young team with loads of talent that’s just beginning to gel. G-P’s only losses so far have come to two teams (Cosby, Grainer) that look destined for Murfreesboro and the state tournament.
Station Camp Lady Bison
Summary: Station Camp has been impressive this season after a strong 19-win campaign a year ago. The Lady Bison’s only defeat this season came at the hand of fellow tournament team Beech.
Casey County Lady Rebels
Summary: A 19-win team a year ago, the Lady Rebels made it to the classic championship two years ago. This season Casey County has struggled, losing four of their last five.
Alcovy Lady Tigers
Summary: The Lady Tigers were an impressive team last season, earning a trip to the state semifinals and landing girls on several college teams. A basketball powerhouse, the Lady Tigers have seven girls that are 5-foot-9 or taller.
Livingston Academy Lady Wildcats
Summary: The Lady Wildcats have been very good to start the season, losing only to Knox Webb and a very good Jackson County team — which suffered its only loss in an earlier game with The Lady ‘Cats.
Coffee County Central Lady Raiders
Summary: A region semifinalist last season, Coffee County’s had its ups and downs so far in 2012. They’ve earned decent wins over Page and Tullahoma, only to suffer losses against two teams with losing records.
Beech Lady Buccaneers
Summary: Beech has one of the better resumes coming into the tournament, having scored six wins in their last seven games. The Lady Bucs lost to G-P in the Classic semis two years ago.
Ezell-Harding Lady Eagles
Summary: After starting 3-3, the Lady Eagles have scored five-straight victories. In those games, Ezell-Harding has won by an average margin of 23 points.
Dade County Lady Wolverines
Summary: The Lady Wolverines opened the season with seven-straight wins before taking their only loss of the season. They’re currently riding a two-game winning streak.
Buckhorn Lady Wildcats
Summary: After winning their first two games, the Lady Wildcats haven’t finished a game within 12 points of an opponent since, losing three straight.
Heritage Lady Generals
Record: Information not available.
Summary: Information not available.
Jenkins Lady Cavaliers
Summary: Though the team is struggling in 2012, they are traditionally a solid program. The team went 2-2 at last year’s Classic en route to a 12-win season.
Harlan County Lady Black Bears
Summary: Coming off a 22-win season last year, Harlan County brings the best record into the Classic. Only one team has played within single-digits of the Lady Black Bears this year. The team has 20 wins in every season since the school opened in 2008.
Signal Mountain Lady Eagles
Signal Mountain, Tenn.
Summary: After a strong run of performances around Thanksgiving, the Lady Eagles have lost three straight, including a 47-37 defeat at the hands of Soddy Daisy on Monday.
Paintsville Lady Tigers
Summary: The Lady Tigers lost their first four games out of the chute, but have come back with a three-game winning streak. All three of those victories, surprisingly, have come on the road.
Moore County Lady Raiders
Summary: The Lady Raiders started 1-3, but have come back with a vengeance, taking their last seven games while averaging double-digit victories in the process.
Summary: The Highlanders started the season strong, going 7-2 in their first nine games, but collapses on defense and rebounding have contributed to the host team losing four of their last five contests.
Miami Senior High Stingarees
Summary: A basketball powerhouse, Miami High is the alma mater of NBA players Steve Blake and Udonis Haslem, as well as current South Carolina coach Frank Martin. The team currently has four players 6-foot-7 or taller.
Pendleton County Wildcats
Summary: The Wildcats come in riding a three-game winning streak. The last two wins came by 67 combined points, including a 63-19 romp over Dayton, Ky. The team won 18 games last season.
Elizabethton Fighting Cyclones
Summary: Both of Elizabethton’s losses came early and to respectable teams — Fulton and Cherokee. Since the Fulton loss on Nov. 26, the Cyclones have won six straight — last four by 20 points or more.
Pulaski County Maroons
Summary: After a 21-11 campaign last season, the Maroons — a team that was ranked in the top 20 of many Kentucky pre-season polls — have started this season 3-2.
Summary: Though the Panthers are below .500 at the moment, they’ve won three of four games and are one of the larger schools in the tournament.
Record: 6-5Summary: The Eagles are coming in on a role, having lost just one of their last six games (by one point). They’ve won their last two games — both conference matchups — by 60 points combined.
Livingston Academy Wildcats
Summary: The Wildcats are better than their .500 record indicates. The team has won five of their last six, and has impressive wins over Knox Webb and Alcoa. The Academy made it to the state semifinals last season in Class AA.
Summary: All five of the Buccaneers’ losses have come by double-digits this season, but the team has won two of their last three. The team is a traditionally-strong program and won 25 games last season. In 2010, they made it to the Classic’s championship game.
Summary: Prestonsburg was 16-16 last season. After winning their first two ball games of the season, the Blackcats have lost four of their most recent five.
Summary: Losers of eight-straight games, the Tigers have been within single-digits of an opponent at just once since Nov. 23. The Tigers appeared in the Classic last year and lost both games, 85-28 and 90-57.
Sullivan North Raiders
Summary: The Raiders earned a region tournament appearance in upper East Tennessee last season, and have won four of their last six, including a 54-51 decision over rival Sullivan South.
Summary: Though they’re a small school, Richland’s played big so far this season. Most of their nine wins have come by way of blowout, and one of their two losses came to undefeated Mt. Pleasant — by just three points.
Moore County Raiders
Summary: Coming off a 20-loss campaign in 2011-12, the Raiders had renewed hopes with a 3-4 start before losing their last four straight heading into the Classic, including one to fellow tournament team Richland.