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Where do area's top teams stand as 2020 begins?

Douglas Fritz • Jan 7, 2020 at 12:30 PM

It’s a new year in more ways than one.

The calendar turned, and for area basketball teams it’s a chance to put a new perspective on their seasons.

Conference races have started, but the heart of the schedule begins this week.

Here’s a snapshot look at some of the area’s top teams as 2020 begins.

BOYS

Big 7 Conference

Science Hill — The 15-1 record speaks volumes, but the schedule was soft early. The Hilltoppers are clearly the team to beat but still have to prove some things.

Dobyns-Bennett — It’s difficult to get a direct read on the Indians. Certainly they have shown some promise. But it will take a couple of weeks of Big 7 action to better assess their title-threat level.

David Crockett — Eleven wins and a 2-1 record against Sullivan South suggest the Pioneers are ready to mix it up with Science Hill, D-B and Boone.

Daniel Boone — The Trailblazers seem like a team that is waiting for the rest of the Big 7 to take them lightly. They could make some noise, but the schedule says they will have to do it quickly.

Three Rivers Conference

Sullivan South — Establishing itself as the league’s front-runner hasn’t taken long for South. The Rebels should be a tough team to dislodge from their current top perch.

Elizabethton — A long football season combined with injuries left the Cyclones in a bind against a monster early schedule. The good news is a 2-0 league start and the return of Parker Hughes, so optimism remains. The bad news is Bryson Rollins is still out indefinitely.

Sullivan East — A sub-.500 record may not show it, but the Patriots have been competitive in almost all of their losses. This is a still a potential noise-making team.

Watauga Valley Conference

Hampton — The Bulldogs have played only two Class A opponents to this point, so the 10-6 overall record looks sweet. There should be growing hope for an excellent season.

University High — On a given night against Class A competition, the Buccaneers can produce a serious threat. The offensive firepower is impressive.

GIRLS

Big 7 Conference

Science Hill — Predicted to win the league and make a run at Murfreesboro, the Lady Hilltoppers are 0-4 against teams (Bearden, Maryville, Farragut, Oak Ridge) they could face if they reach the sectional round. And three of the four losses were by double- digit margins. The Lady Hilltoppers have played the area’s toughest schedule but need to regain some state-level swagger during Big 7 play.

Dobyns-Bennett — It has been a nice start for the Lady Indians, but the jury is still out on how far this team can go. One thing seems certain: D-B is better than some folks thought and should be able find a comfort zone near the top of the league.

Daniel Boone — The Lady Trailblazers have three out-of-state losses, two setbacks against tough Sullivan Central and a two-point defeat against a 15-1 Pickett County team. And Boone was competitive in all of those losses. In other words, this team could be dangerous over the next couple of months.

David Crockett — Preseason optimism splashed over into the season, and the Lady Pioneers have been impressive. With D-B, Science Hill and Boone coming up in an 11-day stretch, the depth of their success will be tested.

Volunteer — The schedule hasn’t been demanding, but nine wins and an above-.500 record shows promise.

Three Rivers Conference

Sullivan Central — When the advertisement says you’re going to be good, you want to be as good as advertised. The Lady Cougars have done that, losing a pair of games in Orlando but flying undefeated everywhere else.

Unicoi County — The Lady Blue Devils can make a case as the area’s surprise team so far. They have 12 wins and could be the biggest league threat to Central.

Elizabethton — A rugged schedule has left the Lady Cyclones at .500, but this is a dangerous team in league circles. Elizabethton came on strong late last year, and has the ability to do it again.

Watauga Valley Conference

Cloudland — The Lady Highlanders have been flat-out consistent this season. But they have plenty of league challenges ahead, most notably North Greene and Unaka.

Unaka — The Lady Rangers might be too young to grab the league title. But the deeper it gets into the season and the more their experience grows, they could become a tougher team to deny.

BASKETBALL OVERVIEW

Boys highlight games

Tuesday

Science Hill at Daniel Boone

David Crockett at Dobyns-Bennett

Hampton at University High

Friday

Science Hill at David Crockett

Daniel Boone at Dobyns-Bennett

North Greene at Hampton

Off to nice start to the season, David Crockett has a chance to see if it can handle the best the Big Seven has to offer.

BOYS TOP 10

Science Hill and Sullivan South remain strong at the top of this week’s rankings.

Team W-L Prv
1. Science Hill 15-1 1
2. Sullivan South 14-2 2
3. Dobyns-Bennett 7-6 3
4. Daniel Boone 9-4 6
5. David Crockett 11-5 5
6. Tennessee High 10-6 4
7. Hampton 10-6 8
8. Sullivan East 6-8 9
9. Elizabethton 3-9 7
10. University High 7-6 NR

Girls highlight games

Tuesday

Science Hill at Daniel Boone

David Crockett at Dobyns-Bennett

Cloudland at Unaka

Friday

Science Hill at David Crockett

Daniel Boone at Dobyns-Bennett

Elizabethton at Unicoi County

It’s a big week for the Lady Trailblazers as they will have a chance to prove they belong in the Big Seven title chase.

GIRLS TOP 10

Strength of schedule plays a role in the rankings, and no team has faced a schedule as tough as Science Hill. But Central remains undefeated against in-state opponents, and gets the early 2020 nod for the top spot.

Team W-L Prv
1. Sullivan Central 14-2 3
2. Science Hill 9-6 1
3. Dobyns-Bennett 13-4 2
4. Daniel Boone 7-6 4
5. Cloudland 12-2 5
6. Unicoi County 12-4 6
7. Elizabethton 7-7 7
8. David Crockett 10-7 8
9. Sullivan East 9-8 9
10. Happy Valley 10-5 10
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