Local Jr. High teams to play in first-year tourney

Photo By Kristen Luther
Jasmine Treadway and the T.A. Dugger girls will be one of many Carter County teams competing in the East Tennessee Middle School Shootout.

By Wes Holtsclaw

   JOHNSON CITY -- This winter, all of the top middle school teams in Upper East Tennessee will finally get together on the hardwood.
   The First Annual East Tennessee Middle School Shootout was announced Wednesday morning at the Freedom Hall Civic Center in Johnson City.
   Tournament director Todd Barnett will have 16 boys and girls teams from Sullivan, Carter, Unicoi, Hawkins and Washington Counties as well as Bristol, Virginia.
   The tournament is a first, as it will take place December 16-17th and 19-20th, with the championship taking place on the 22nd.
   There will be a three-game minimum which will be played at Freedom Hall and the auxiliary gymnasium. The tournament will be played in seven sessions over five days.
   Local teams participating include Central, Cloudland, Hampton, Happy Valley, Hunter, T.A. Dugger and Unaka's boys teams, with Cloudland, Hampton, Happy Valley, Hunter, T.A. Dugger and Unaka contributing girls squads.
   According to Hunter basketball players Hunter Taylor and Briant Collins, it will be a good event for their programs.
   "We're really excited," said Taylor. "If we win, it's going to give us more confidence down the road."
   Said Collins: "Playing bigger schools helps us win or lose and gives us more experience."
   Brackets were released as follows:
   In the girls bracket: Ross Robinson vs. University School, Colonial Heights vs. Unaka, Science Hill vs. Cloudland, Virginia Middle vs. TBA, Indian Trail vs. John Sevier, Hampton vs. Unicoi County, Hunter vs. T.A. Dugger and Happy Valley vs. Vance Middle.
   The boys bracket consists of: Cloudland vs. John Sevier, T.A. Dugger vs. Unicoi County, University School vs. Science Hill, TBA vs. Ross Robinson, Hunter vs. Church Hill, Central vs. Vance Middle, Happy Valley vs. Unaka and Indian Trail vs. Hampton.
   Perhaps the best game during the first girls round will be Hunter and T.A. Dugger. A pair of the Lady Tigers at the press conference were excited about their draw.
   "We want to play hard and learn something," said Emily Asher. "T.A. Dugger's good, and we have a good team, so it will be a tough game."
   Added Brittney Westberry: "We want to go far (in the tournament), so we'll have to come ready to play as a team."
   Barnett has been wanting to do the tournament for some time and was pleased to get things going this year.
   The top teams out of the first three days will advance to play in 1st through 5th place games on the boys and girls side.
   Tickets for each session will be $5 for adults and $2 for students, with children six and under getting in free.