This is the weekend that basketball-playing high school seniors will remember for the rest of their lives. Many of the Nashville area schools have already had their "senior night," and tonight the remaining schools hosting games will also honor their seniors.
From casual shoot-a-rounds in the spring to the Metro summer leagues and fall practices, basketball has been a way for many students to express themselves and participate in the school community. Many of these players have garnered much media attention and will be playing at the college level next year. However, for the majority of high school basketball seniors, tonight will be their last regular season game for their schools.
This weekend, coaches all over Nashville will meet and organize next week's district tournament brackets and tip-off times. The TSSAA allows the district tournaments to be handled by the host schools and participating teams.
In the district tournaments, which commence at several school locations around town on Monday, the pace and emotions run high. So many young men and women will play their last organized team ball next week, as not everyone advances come tournament play.
Generations of high school players have repeated the emotional senior ritual of realizing the season is really over and that basketball shoes must be put away.
The City Paper would like to commend all of the Metro area student-athletes who have made this high school basketball season one to remember. We will honor many of these players starting with next Monday's edition, which will feature every school's MVPs and most improved players.
On Tuesday, we will recognize the numerous All-District teams, and Wednesday's edition will honor each district's MVPs as well as coaches of the year and assistant coaches of the year.
With most league standings pretty well determined, tonight's action offers a few interesting matchups as teams prepare for tournament time. One contest will determine a still-undefined regular season champ.
Division II's Harpeth Hall girls will try to see if they can make it two in a row and also win the league when they travel to league rival Father Ryan tonight. The Hall finally broke a 15-game losing streak to Ryan last month.
"Basically, if we win tonight, we're the regular season champs and the No. 1 seed in our tournament," explained Harpeth Hall coach Chip Fridrich. "If we lose, then the No. 1 seed is determined by a coin flip. We are going out there to Ryan with every intention of winning."
Harpeth Hall surprised everyone last year and made it to the Division II Final Four.
"It's that time of year where we don't want to put a whole lot of emphasis on the first round because we know we'll be playing Ryan again next week in the tournament," Fridrich continued. "It's by no means a do-or-die situation; however, we would like to be the top seed.
"You're going to have to beat the good teams to advance come tournament time, and we have the experience from last year to help us. We feel good about tonight, and actually the pressure is on them. Either way, I know Irish coach Jinx Cockerham will have her team ready tonight."
The Lady Irish rolled 66-40 over University School on Tuesday with 10 players getting in the scorebook. Harpeth Hall warmed up for tonight's Ryan game with a Tuesday 50-38 loss at White County and a home game against St. Cecilia last night.
Brentwood Academy (17-8) celebrates the high school career of 7-footer David Harrison, as the talented senior plays his last home game for the Eagles tonight against University School. The Eagles will be looking to rebound from Tuesday's 70-57 upset loss to BGA.
In that contest, Harrison had one of the worst shooting games in his career, being held to just 12 points. He still leads the mid-state in scoring with a 29-point-per-game average. BGA's senior center Stephen Russell finished with 18 points in that winning effort.
Also in Division II, MBA's talented tandem of Moses Osemwegie and Dominique Morris will play in their regular season finale when the top-ranked Big Red (14-8) play host to city archrival Father Ryan (18-5). Both seniors will be playing football at Vanderbilt next season.
State fifth-ranked Whites Creek will try to recover from last night's highly contested battle at Stratford by hosting Pearl-Cohn tonight in a District 12-AAA doubleheader. This will also be the final regular season game for Middle Tennessee's top girls' scorer, senior Tiania Burns of Pearl-Cohn, who is averaging 27 points per game.
Overton's Lady Bobcats (25-1) will take several talented seniors to Stratford tonight for the season finale against the Lady Spartans. Tuesday night, Overton downed rival Hillsboro 74-67 in one of their narrowest margins of victory this season. Overton's Hollie Davis led all scorers with 28 points, while Katherine Grant contributed 27 points in a losing effort.
The Overton team made it to the state tournament last year, and coach Kala Wiggins has all five starters back from that squad, as well as three other players who see equal playing time.
Second-ranked Ezell Harding will put its rating on the line when the Eagles travel to Donelson Christian Academy tonight. DCA 6-11 junior center Boomer Herndon leads the mid-state in rebounding with over 14 boards a game.
The district tournaments do get underway Monday or Tuesday of next week. However, dates and start times vary with each district. Boys' and girls' teams all play at the same district location. Donelson Christian hosts District 9-A, Franklin's Page High will play host to District 9-AA, Franklin hosts District 11-AAA, while Stratford welcomes District 12-AAA.
TSSAA Division II doesn't have districts due to the smaller number of schools; however, regional tournaments must be completed by March 1, the same as Division I schools.