'Dogs draw South in opener

By Matt Hill

   JONESBOROUGH--The start of high school basketball is upon us, and that means the Hardee's/Black Tie Formalwear Classic is also ready to tip-off.
   The tournament will take place Nov. 26-30 at David Crockett High School, and will feature eight teams.
   "We think we've got another good tournament," David Crockett head coach Marty Street said.
   As far as the first round match-ups, Hampton will take on Sullivan South next Tuesday at 4 p.m., with Lenoir City-Sullivan East to follow.
   The night will be capped off by host school David Crockett taking on Cherokee, and Sevier County going up against Chuckey-Doak.
   Action will continue on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights.
   Our immediate area's only representative will be Hampton. First-year Bulldog head coach Bud Hazelwood is excited about his team getting this opportunity.
   "I look forward to it every year," Hazelwood said. "It's a good chance to get out and get three early games. And it means something, too. You're playing for a championship. We haven't been real lucky over here in the last few years. The first year we were in it we won it. We've been competitive, but we've probably lost two or three games on last-second shots.
   Even though the defending District 1-AA champions will be seeing plenty of tough competition when conference season rolls around, Hazelwood still wants to play good teams outside of Hampton's league.
   "Playing good teams only helps you when the conference schedule comes around," Hazelwood said. "We open up with South, and they're a good ball club. They're probably the best team we played all summer. It will be a good experience for our young players. We just need to play."
   The Bulldogs have six seniors to replace from last year's squad, but Hazelwood is hoping to still have a good finish in this tournament.
   "I'm optimistic that we'll be competitive," Hazelwood said. "Whether or not that turns into wins, I don't know. But I think we'll be competitive. Hopefully, we'll do well."
   Tickets for the event are $5 per night.
   * Hampton will also be involved in the TSSAA Hall-of-Fame Tip-off Tournament at Johnson County High School Friday and Saturday night. The schedule is listed below:
   Friday's Games
   6 p.m.- Hampton vs. Sullivan East
   7:30 p.m.- Unaka vs. Knox Bearden
   9 p.m.- Johnson County vs. Greeneville
   Saturday's Games
   6 p.m.- Hampton vs. Knox Bearden
   7:30 p.m.- Unaka vs. Greeneville
   9 p.m.- Johnson County vs. Sullivan East