After some early-season stumbles and mishaps, the Maplewood Panthers are on the prowl with the tournaments just around the corner.
The Panthers clinched the boys District 10-AA championship last Friday with a 67-48 romp at Christ Presbyterian Academy, handing coach Drew Maddux his worst home loss since he became coach there four years ago.
“They’re the best team we’ve played since we lost to Clarksville Northeast (in December),’’ Maddux said after the loss last week. “If they’re not the best team in Nashville, then certainly they belong in that discussion with Overton, Hunters Lane, any of them. At this point, they are the best in this district.’’
“A post player like Robert Wade and a guard like Freddie Lee, those are two outstanding players, who really make them to,’’ Maddux said. “They’re going to be a challenge for anybody.’’ CPA is 20-7, 8-6.
Maplewood upped its record to 18-6 and 13-1 in the league as the Panthers won their 13th straight game with the win at CPA. They haven’t lost since Dec. 20 to Northeast. Maplewood has a two-game lead over East Lit (17-8, 11-3) whom they have already beaten twice with two district games remaining with Hume-Fogg Tuesday and Thursday, one of them a makeup.
Coach Ty Wilson likens his team’s resurgence to an auto tuneup.
“It’s like taking your car to a station for an oil change and a tuneup to fix it,’’ he said. “Guys were just learning their roles and adapting to each other. We had some difficulties early in terms of players learning their roles and with team chemistry, and Robert suffered a concussion which set us back some.
“But the players are starting to gell as a team, and Robert is close to 100 percent. We’re a different team and our kids are hustling and really wanting it.’’
Wade leads the Panthers in scoring at 17 ppg, followed by Lee at 15.1 and Jaleel Quarry at 10. The Panthers lead the district in scoring with 60 ppg. Maplewood avenged its lone district loss, a two-point setback at home without Wade, by winning at Lipscomb Jan. 22 in the middle of the winning streak. All this while the Panthers are waiting for its new gym to be completed. They have played their entire home season at Dalewood Middle.
An interesting clash Friday will send Maplewood to Overton in one of the top games of the night to close down the regular season. A district pairings meeting will be held at host East Literature on Thursday morning when top seed Maplewood will find out who it draws in its 10-AA opener, likely Stratford or Pearl-Cohn.
The tournament’s 8-9 place games will be played Saturday, with those winners moving into quarterfinal match-ups next week at home sites. East Lit coach Jim Fey said the semis, consolations and finals will be at East Lit Feb. 19, 22-23.
Ryan captures state wrestling
Father Ryan captured its seventh state duals wrestling championship Saturday at Franklin Expo Center, holding off Memphis Christian Brothers 29-24 in the final.
The Irish’ Will Mix clinched the title with a win at 171 after CBHS has crept to within one point at 25-24 of Ryan, which won its first duals title since 2004. No. 2 ranked Ryan won its first six matches, highlighted a pin by Mike Ayers at 103.
East Literature fell just short in its bid for a championship in the A/AA division, the Eagles best finish ever. Senior Christian Edafe scored a pin at 152 in one of the top East Lit highlights. Defending champ and top-ranked Bradley Central won its 10th straight AAA title.
Austin named coach at Cornell
Former star Brentwood Academy and Ole Miss quarterback Kent Austin was named head coach at Cornell last week, his first head college football coaching job.
Austin was an all-state QB at BA, followed by a stellar career at Ole Miss, then several seasons in the CFL. He was offensive co-ordinator at Ole Miss the past two seasons. He led BA to the 1980 state title and an undefeated season before signing with Ole Miss.
State bowling finals reset for Saturday
The state bowling tournament finals have been rescheduled for Saturday at Smyrna Bowling Center after the inclement weather and snow caused part of the walls to collapse last week, postponing the event. Championships in all divisions begin at 3:30 p.m.