DCA starting to look capable of a state tournament berth ... and just in time

Thursday, February 16, 2012 at 12:28am

With a fifth-place finish in the regular season, Donelson Christian Academy’s postseason prospects did not look that promising.

But after their impressive 20-point, second-round region tournament victory at Ezell-Harding Monday, the Wildcats look as if they could possibly make a charge to the boys state tournament. They used a 40-point second half to roar past the Eagles 71-51, avenge an earlier defeat at home and reach the DII-A Middle/East Region final four.

DCA will meet University School of Nashville Friday in the last of a four-game card at Webb School in Bell Buckle. A trip to the finals Saturday awaits the winner.

“The first time we played Ezell, we were fortunate to even have a chance to win,” 11th-year DCA coach Presley Ramsey said. “Brett Wolfe hit a shot at the buzzer just to get us to overtime in a game we eventually lost. Also, they outscored us by 23 points at the foul line, so obviously, we had to stop fouling so much.”

On Monday, DCA used 21 points by junior Carson Outlaw, 17 by Collin Johnston and 14 by De Irwin to win going away.

“Carson’s got a great motor,” Ramsey said. “He had 21 points and 12 rebounds and an outstanding floor game.

“That might have been our best game of the season. We played pretty well in our tournament opener against Kings Academy, then followed up with a solid all-around game against Ezell.”

DCA (15-10) has won four straight and seven of its last eight. The Wildcats had to overcome the loss of one of their leading scorers, Josh Erickson. The senior guard went down with a season-ending injury in December.

“He was an all-region player last year and was averaging about 12 points a game,” Ramsey, who recently won his 500th game, said. “That was a huge blow. But everyone has picked up the slack, and our bench has been productive, too.”

If DCA wins Friday, the trip to the region finals will guarantee a sectional game at home on Saturday, Feb. 25. All sectional winners advance to state at Lipscomb March 1-3.

Pressley is trying to guide DCA back to state for the first time since his Boomer Herndon-led team got to the Class A semis in 2001. Last year, the Wildcats fell just short, losing to Jackson Christian in the sectional.

“We didn’t play well in that game,” he said. “As I’ve told our team, don’t be satisfied by playing well in one game. Hopefully, we can continue that [against USN].”

• Armstrong named to Hall: Long-time Nashville coach James Armstrong was named as one of eight members of the newest TSSAA Hall of Fame class, which will be inducted during April 21 ceremonies in Murfreesboro.

Armstrong, 75, coached football and basketball at old Pearl High for 10 years when the Tigers went 70-30-1, including a 1969 Clinic Bowl victory. Armstrong served on the TSSAA Board of Control from 1993-96. He was on coach Cornelius Ridley’s staff of the 1966 unbeaten Pearl basketball team, which won the first TSSAA title after integration.

Five others from Middle Tennessee also were among the group: former Springfield High and Dickson County High football coach Jerry Pearson, ex-Pickett County basketball coach Charles Mitchell, official Butch Campbell of Murfreesboro and contributors Sam Kerr and wife Nelda of Cumberland City.

• Ensworth lands top seeds: Ensworth clinched the No. 1 seeds in both the girls and boys divisions in the DII-A Middle/East Region tournament with victories Tuesday at Baylor.

The boys (26-6, 11-1) erased a 17-point deficit and won 72-70. The girls (20-6, 11-1) easily won 48-30.

• State Wrestling: The TSSAA DII state individual wrestling championships will be held Friday and Saturday at the Williamson County Ag Center in Franklin. Ryan (DII-AA) and Franklin Road Academy (DII-A) wrestlers carry the top Nashville hopes in those divisions.

• The DI tournament opens Thursday and continues Friday and Saturday.

• Willingham hits 1,000: Chris Willingham scored his 1,000th point in East Lit’s 84-61 District 10-AA opening round tournament win over Stratford on Tuesday.

The Eagles (21-6) meet Lipscomb in the semis Friday night at Stratford.

• Wednesday's results:  Franklin and Independence each won on its home floor on the opening day of the District 11-AAA girls tournament. Franklin beat Centennial 53-32, and Independence stopped Ravenwood 41-29.

Both advanced to the semifinals Saturday night at Franklin High.

Two opening round games in the boys tournament are Thursday night.