Believe it or not, the high school basketball season is already upon us. Teams in the state of Tennessee began official practices just this Monday, and many of them are already gearing up to face their first competition of the season this weekend in various play days across the state. With that in mind, NEB Media is here to preview the best of the upcoming weekend’s high school play days and marquee teams that will be participating.
Arlington High School – November 4th
The Arlington High School Play Day will feature some of the top teams in and around the Memphis area, featuring Division I-caliber athletes on several teams.
The Arlington Lady Tigers are loaded with talent this year, led by elite post, Lanetta Williams, a 6’3” junior. Senior Taylor Lattimore perfectly complements Williams at the guard spot with her explosive, athletic ability. This team has the potential to continue their season well into March, but will have to survive stiff competition in Memphis Central or Houston to make it to the AAA state tournament.
Houston High School enters the weekend after last year’s run into the state semi-finals. Houston returns with their own version of the “Big Three” in sophomore Destinee Wells and juniors Madison Griggs and Jayla Hemingway. Any one of this trio has the capability to lead their team on any given night.
Briarcrest Christian School’s team has been led by senior guard Savanna Owens for the last three years. This year, the Lady Saints have added freshman Diona Reed, a major threat in the paint. Under Owens’ leadership, Reed has the potential to grow into quite a player. Expect to be talking about Briarcrest in late March, as the Lady Saints are a top contender for a state tournament run in Division II.
Also in attendance this weekend will be Harding Academy, Covington High School, White Station High School, and Memphis Academy of Health Sciences.
Lebanon High School/MTCS Play Day – November 4th
The Lebanon High School/Middle Tennessee Christian School event may be the largest girls’ event in the state this preseason, however this event does not sacrifice quality for quantity as there will be state contenders in each classification present.
Riverdale High School, the defending AAA state champions, will take on Hamilton Heights Christian Academy at 5 pm at MTCS. This is the most highly-touted game of the fall thus far. Both teams are listed in the Top 5 of most preseason rankings. Hamilton Heights is led by University of Tennessee commit, Jazmine Massengil, and Elizabeth Balogun, who has committed to Georgia Tech. Treasure Hunt, a 6’0” sophomore guard, and Kamilla Cardosa, a 6’6” post and ESPN’s number one ranked player in the 2020 class, add their phenomenal talents to this team. Hamilton Heights is a bit of a wild card due to the addition of several international players during the offseason. It will be interesting to see what they will bring to the table this year.
Riverdale counters with plenty of talent of their own. The Lady Warriors return their entire roster from last season except for former McDonald’s All-American, Anastasia Hayes. The graduation of a player with that much impact is a staggering loss for most teams, and while the Lady Warriors will have a lot of ground to cover in Hayes’ absence, they still have loads of athleticism and the potential to repeat last year’s stellar performance. Under the guidance of Vanderbilt University commit Brinae Alexander, MTSU commits Alexis and Amanda Whittington, and junior Aislynn Hayes, who has several DI offers herself, Riverdale is poised to win their third consecutive state championship, another national championship, and continue their 42-game win streak.
Rhea County High School – November 4th
The first annual Rhea County High School Play Day will feature several teams from District 6-AAA and Region 3-AAA, a wise move by the coaches of these teams as Rhea County hosts these district and region tournaments this year. Bradley Central High School, Stone Memorial High School, and East Hamilton High School are the headliners at this event.
Despite Bradley Central’s loss of last season’s key contributors, they return their top player, University of Kentucky commit Rhyne Howard, as well as junior Kimia Carter. The Bearettes are regulars at the AAA state tournament, but were upset by Stewarts Creek High School last spring in the sub-state. Bradley Central sees last year’s shortcoming as nothing but pure motivation to be back in the Glass House this year.
Stone Memorial High School is loaded with young talent, but will that be enough to survive a grueling schedule and carry them through post-season play? With powerhouses like Bradley Central and Riverdale on their schedule, Stone Memorial could have a lot to overcome this season, but don’t count them out just yet. With the athletic abilities of 6’2” sophomore Emma Capps and 2021 graduate Tessa Miller in the post and skillful guards like juniors Alex Eldridge and Emily Boyd, this team could still be contenders for a post-season run.
East Hamilton is another young team with a chance to take their program to new heights this year. East Hamilton is led by sophomore Madison Hayes, a 6’0” guard. Her younger sister, McKenna Hayes, is playing up on the varsity team as an 8th grader. Many think that this talented duo will determine the outcome of East Hamilton’s season.