Over the past few decades, Tennessee high school girls basketball has become a fixture on the national scene in terms of national championships and being competitive on the national scale. This year was no different as Riverdale High School (Murfreesboro, TN) held onto the top spot in the USA Today and MaxPreps polls for the entire second half of the season and taking claim as National Champions in both of the polls. In my opinion, the level of play that Riverdale, in addition to Blackman, Bradley Central, Memphis Central and Oakland, have sustained over the years has raised the level of girls basketball throughout the state into what it is today.
The Tennessee State Tournament started last Wednesday and ended on Saturday with South Greene (Single A), Upperman (Double A), and Riverdale (Triple A) all winning state championships. The tournament showcased what Tennessee girls basketball was about with multiple overtime games, some big-time clutch shots, and a few bad calls by the referees.
With that being said, this recap will breakdown what took place in the Triple A portion of the Tennessee state tournament noting some highlight games and standouts from the tournament.
The most exciting game of the tournament came on the first day as Stewarts Creek and Dickson County went to double overtime. Dickson County's Emily Beard, a Union University signee, hit a 3-pointer in the final seconds of regulation, and another 3-pointer in the final seconds of the first overtime, to pick up the upset win over Stewarts Creek.
Riverdale High School (Murfreesboro, TN) - STATE CHAMPIONS
The Riverdale Lady Warriors came into the state tournament as not only the top-ranked team in the state, but also the top-ranked team in the USA Today and MaxPreps polls. Riverdale started the tournament with an easy win over Morristown West to only see the tournament get tougher and tougher each game. The Lady Warriors struggled with Houston for much of the first-half, but Riverdale prevailed in the end picking up the 19-point win in the semi's. The state championship game against Memphis Central found Riverdale having its toughest game since early in the district tournaments. Riverdale's Anastasia Hayes, state tournament MVP and Miss Basketball winner, came up big when it mattered most going for 33 points in the state championship. A day after the state tournament, Hayes was also named the Tennessee Gatorade Player of the Year as well. Junior forward, Brinae Alexander, was huge for Riverdale in the state championship, grabbing 12 rebounds in the first half and finishing with 18 rebounds in the game to go with her 9 points. The Whittington twins, Alexis and Amanda, were consistently doing what they do by knocking in 3-pointers.
Memphis Central (Memphis, TN) - STATE RUNNER-UP
Memphis Central came into the state tournaments with few people knowing what to expect from them having only 1 senior on roster. It did not take long for people to figure Central out as they knocked off Oak Ridge in the opening round, Dickson County in the semifinals, and giving Riverdale all they wanted in the state championship. Central came in playing its best basketball of the season and peaking at the right time. Central's Johne Stewart kicked off the state tournament scoring 24 points in the first half against Oak Ridge while finishing with 28 in the game. Jireh Washington also displayed her ability to run spots on the floor as they used her at times as the point guard, at other times putting her in the corner as a shooter, and sometimes down in the post. Central also had outstanding play from a duo of sophomore's in Brianna Cooks and Kynadi Kuykendoll. With everything that central has returning back for next year, it's hard not to put them as one of the top favorites to win the state championship next year.
Other notable standouts from the state tournament:
Emily Beard - 2017 5'5 G - Dickson County High School (Dickson, TN)
Mykia Dowdell - 2018 5'10 F - Oak Ridge High School (Oak Ridge, TN)
Bri Ferby - 2018 5'7 G - Stewarts Creek High School (Smyrna, TN)
Brandi Ferby - 2018 5'7 G - Stewarts Creek High School (Smyrna, TN)
Madison Griggs - 2019 5'8 G - Houston High School (Germantown, TN)
Jayla Hemingway - 2019 5'10 G - Houston High School (Germantown, TN)
Kailey Rosenbaum - 2018 6'1 F - Dickson County High School (Dickson, TN)
Detinee Wells - 2020 5'5 G - Houston High School (Germantown, TN)