Who has Nashville’s hottest boys basketball team through the first month of the season?
An obvious choice is the Hillsboro Burros (7-0), who captured the prestigious LeRoy Wright Memorial tournament over Thanksgiving weekend and trounced Mount Juliet 66-46 on Friday in the Burros gym.
Led by 6-foot-8 Tennessee State signee Jamontae Davis and a host of good role players like senior Brian Wilson and 6-foot-8 junior Antorian Moore, Hillsboro may have its best team yet under seventh-year coach Rodney Thweatt.
“These guys are fun to coach, they put in a good effort of practice every day,” Thweatt said just after the Mount Juliet game. “We have two sets of brothers, two sets of cousins and multi best friends on the team.”
Asked about his best team, he said, “It could be our 2007-08 team which reached the sub-state or our district championship team in 2009-10. But this team has the ability to be really special.”
Said Davis, who poured in 23 points and grabbed 11 rebounds against Mount Juliet: “We’ve been playing together since we were freshmen. We’ve got guys who work hard at practice and play hard all the time. As for me, I just try to make plays, contest every shot and do what I can to pick up the team. If we stay together, I think we can get to state.”
Added Moore, who electrified Burro fans with a slam dunk that gave Hillsboro an early 9-3 lead: “We’ve got great chemistry on our team, and I think that will carry us far. I feel like I can bring a rebounding, shot blocking and defensive mindset to the team which helps us win.”
The Burros have not allowed more than 46 points, thanks mainly to the inside presence of shot-blockers like Davis and Moore and a hounding perimeter defense.
Wilson, a guard, exemplified that with an eight-point, five-assist, four-steal night and his usual strong defensive effort.
“We’re family, and everyone is pulling together,” Wilson said. “We have the experience, we love the game, and we’ve got great chemistry this year.”
The highlight of the night came when senior Garland Pulley, who has cerebral palsy and has difficulty running, came into the game late. In the final minute, he put up a shot, which bounced off the rim, off the backboard and into the hoop.
The gym erupted in bedlam, and even the Mount Juliet fans cheered.
“His father approached me his freshman year and said he wanted to join the team and just play ball,” Thweatt said. “He’s worked his butt off, he’s played hard and done everything we’ve asked of him. He got his opportunity and made the most of it.”
Mount Juliet coach Troy Allen returned to the place where he coached for a long time.
“We’re still a work in progress,’’ Allen, who has been at Mount Juliet eight years and coached Hillsboro the 12 years before that, said. “Hillsboro is very good and they’re off to a great start.”
The teams might play each other again given that they are entered in the Father Ryan Christmas tournament later this month.
Incidentally, former Whites Creek High star Jamie Graham, who played football at Vanderbilt and UCLA, is serving as an assistant under Thweatt at Hillsboro.
“We’ve still got a ways to go and improvements to make,” Thweatt said. “But I certainly like the way this team is progressing.”
Hillsboro hosts old rival Overton on Tuesday.
• Record-setter: Corn Elder finished his stellar career at Ensworth with a 217-yard, three-touchdown showing in last Thursday’s 31-14 Division II-AA championship victory over Memphis University School.
He wound up with 6,361 career rushing yards (seventh best in state history) and 81 career touchdowns (ninth in state history). He also passed former Ensworth star Orleans Darkwa (6,338) to become the school’s leading career rusher. Darkwa just finished his junior season at Tulane.
Next up for Elder is basketball, a sport where his team has won two straight titles, and a truck load of college recruiting visits.
• Ensworth’s Elder was named player of the year on the All-Division II-AA Middle/East team. Brentwood Academy’s D’Montre Wade was selected offensive MVP and teammate Jalen Ramsey was defensive MVP on the DII-AA All-Region team announced last week.
• The annual William Hume Award winner will be announced following a noon luncheon Tuesday at the Patron Club inside Bridgestone Arena in downtown Nashville. Finalists include: Christian Molina (Antioch), Michael Collins (East Nashville), Joseph Occhipinti (Hillsboro), Tracey Bowler (McGavock) and Brandon Orr (Overton). The award is for excellence on the football field, in the classroom, sportsmanship and community service.
• The annual Nashville Football Coaches Association banquet will be held 6 p.m. Thursday at Gaylord Spring House Golf Course. All-city teams and four new members of the Hall of Fame will be announced.
• Battle Ground Academy eighth-grader Allison Cowie played like a senior, recording a triple-double in a game last week with 18 points, 19 rebounds and 11 blocks in addition to three assists and two steals. Earlier in the season, she had a double-double.
She averages 17.3 points and 11.8 rebounds per game and takes up significant slack for the Wildcats, who are playing without leading scorer Caroline Abbott (foot injury).
• The sixth annual Tennessee East-West All-Atar Game will be held 1 p.m. Saturday at Tennessee Tech in Cookeville.
Nashville area players on the West roster include: Max Staver and D’Montre Wade (Brentwood Academy), DeAnthony Patrick and DaQuan Mays (McGavock), Anthony Batey and Jay Heins (Ensworth), Robert Brown and James Elliott (Christ Presbyterian Academy), Logan Teichmann (Brentwood High) and Michael Cain (Whites Creek).
BlueCross Bowl results
DII-A: Knoxville Webb 47, Evangelical Christian School 14
DII-AA: Ensworth 31, Memphis University School 14
Class 1A: Gordonsville 21, Huntingdon 20
Class 3A: Christian Academy of Knoxville 48, Milan 14
Class 5A: Beech 56, Columbia 35
Class 2A: Friendship Christian 44, Adamsville 7
Class 4A: Fulton 39, Covington 14
Class 6A: Whitehaven 36, Maryville 35 (OT)