Related content: Ensworth boys, FRA girls win DII state crowns
East Literature, meet Mr. Johnson — again.
Trying to return to the state tournament for the first time since 2007, East Lit (26-6) makes a journey down Interstate-65 to Lewisburg for a Class AA Sectional game Monday night. There, the Eagles meet Marshall County (24-9) and Mr. Basketball finalist Kedren Johnson, who is averaging 28 points a game.
Johnson, a Vanderbilt signee, led his team to the AA state semifinals last year where it lost to eventual champ Bolivar in overtime. Johnson fouled out of that one.
Monday’s winner advances to the state tournament next week at MTSU.
Playing Marshall County is not new for East Lit, which has met the Tigers and Johnson in each of the past three seasons.
“We played them down there his freshman year, and they beat us about 15 points. His sophomore year, we played them at our place and we won by about 10. Last season, we played down there and lost by one and missed a last-second shot to win it,” East Lit coach Jim Fey said. “We could have played them up here this season, but they elected to play a lot games out of state to showcase Kedren’s talents his senior year, and I understand that.
“I knew once we reached the region tournament that there was at least a 50 percent chance we would play them in sectionals. And sure enough, we do. But there’s a lot more riding on this one.”
Johnson made eight 3-pointers and scored 38 points in a 65-62 region finals victory over Giles County last Thursday.
East Lit, which led 39-37 at the end of the third quarter, faded in the final minute of its Region 5-AA finals game in a 54-51 loss to Sycamore. Had they won, the Eagles would have had a home game Monday.
“We were up four with under a minute to go, and they hit a 3 to cut it one,” Fey said about Thursday’s final. “Then we don’t make a good pass, and they come down and execute and got a good shot. In the final seconds, we turned the ball over due to a violation on our in-bounds pass.”
At the beginning of the district tournaments, one might not have guessed that East Lit would be the only team out of tough 10-AA to make it to sectionals. But they were.
“Early on, we were playing and executing very well,” Fey said. “Then we hit a lull at midseason when we stopped executing the way we did earlier. But lately, we’ve gotten better at what we should be doing well.”
• Overton bets on Betts: No team in Nashville is hotter than Overton, which averaged almost 70 points a game in its three Region 6-AAA tournament victories last week.
That run earned the Bobcats a Class AAA sectional game at home with Clarksville Monday night.
The Bobcats scored 51 in the second half of an 81-52 semifinal blowout of Ravenwood (that avenged a December loss), then never were in trouble in a 66-45 victory over host Brentwood High in the championship game.
The Bobcats (25-7) have won 11 straight. Their last loss was Jan. 22 when they fell to Siegel. Like Overton, Siegel is also playing in Monday’s sectional round.
The victory over Brentwood gave Overton its first region championship since 1995. That year the Bobcats beat Clarksville, and that team, led by Chris Hight and coached by Tommy Griffith, reached the semifinals before it lost to Brainerd and finished 31-4.
Outside of maybe Memphis, is there a better point guard in the state than Mookie Betts?
“I was very disappointed he wasn’t a finalist for Mr. Basketball,” coach James McKee said after Betts scored a career-high 29 against Brentwood. “I thought he was clearly deserving of that.”
With a front line of rebounding machine Frank Lobasco, Justin Perry and Cameron Lewis, the Bobcats are dominant.
“Frank played like his hair was on fire,” McKee said.
Reserve guard Ivan Alsup sparked the offense with some shake-and-bake moves.
Clarksville is coached by Ted Young, a star for his high school alma mater in the 1980s and who later played at Vanderbilt. The Wildcats were unbeaten in district play in the regular season but lost in both the district and region finals to West Creek.
• Lipscomb draws No. 1 team in girls state tourney: David Lipscomb drew the No. 1 ranked Class AA team in the state when the field was set Sunday in Murfreesboro for the this week’s girls state tournament.
Lipscomb (26-6) will face McMinn Central (32-1) and Miss Basketball finalist Jenna Adams in their quarterfinal at 10 a.m. Thursday at MTSU.
Lipscomb was the only Nashville team to qualify for the girls state tournament. It got there with a 52-51 Class AA Sectional victory at Lewis County on Saturday.
Lauren Cagle hit a huge 3-pointer with 11 seconds left that gave Lipscomb the lead. Then the Mustangs held on as Lewis County missed a one-and-one and Lipscomb rebounded.
The girls state tournament opens Wednesday morning with Class A games.
• As many good teams as Brentwood High has had over the years, it is surprising the Bruins have never reached the boys state tournament. BHS (25-8) is within one win of its first trip as it travels to West Creek Monday.
The closest the Bruins came is when they advanced to sectionals in 1995, 1999, 2000 and 2003 under coach Dennis King, who has guided the team in 24 of its 28 seasons.
• The annual Middle Tennessee Chapter of the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame holds its 44th annual award dinner, 7 p.m. Monday at the Airport Marriott Hotel.
High school athletes from 56 Middle Tennessee high schools and seven colleges will be recognized for the accomplishments on the field and for academic achievement and community involvement.
Scott Brunette, who retired in June as Metro Schools athletic director and is an NFF Board member, will receive the Roy Kramer Contributions to Football award.
• Metro Nashville Public Schools is looking to fill the coaching vacancies at Glencliff (football) and Maplewood (girls basketball).
To apply, call the Metro Schools athletic director’s office, 259-8783 before March 16.