By Tim Chambers
It’s been an up and down roller coaster ride for Johnson County basketball this season but both teams still have a lot to play for.
The District Tournament begins on February 15 at Unicoi County High School, the same location of the regional tournament.
I have hated this format from day one and my argument will always be the same.
The District Tournament should always be held at a neutral site where no team has an advantage. The first place team is awarded a bye and seeds determine the other six slots.
A neutral site would create a tournament type atmosphere where possible upset could occur. That’s not likely to happen if you draw the Blue Devils in the first round.
Let’s look at the advantages gained by Unicoi County.
The boys will likely enter the tournament as a No. 3 seed and the girls have pretty much locked down a No. 4 spot.
The boys will be pitted against the No. 6 team in the conference that likely will be Johnson County, Sullivan South or Sullivan North.
The Longhorns can avoid that scenario if they defeat Sullivan North on Tuesday. A win would have them playing Happy Valley in a first round game.
Upsets have always been a part of tournament play but it’s less likely to happen if you draw the Blue Devils.
The girls should enter as the No. 4 seed, but things could get interesting in the semifinals.
Sullivan East and Elizabethton appear to be the clear-cut favorite, but could Unicoi County possibly spring off an upset on their home court?
Sullivan South has suddenly turned it on as of late and will likely nail down the No. 5 spot. They can secure it with a win at Sullivan North on Friday.
Happy Valley is currently third but that could change as well. The Warriors will play at Elizabethton on Tuesday and host Unicoi County on Friday. A pair of losses would drop them into the No. 4 seed on the girls’ side.
Johnson County’s girls can sew up the six seed with a win over North on Tuesday. They could possibly face Unicoi County in an elimination game if the Lady Warriors should stumble.
Here’s the part I hate most.
The Blue Devils could possibly make the state tournament without ever leaving their home gym. If they win the regional, then the sub-state game would be played there too.
I wouldn’t count out Unicoi County regardless of where they are seeded. They’re right where they want to be.
In Erwin, home sweet home.
Tim Chambers is the sports editor at The Tomahawk. You can email him at [email protected]