It’s region championship time and that means getting every team’s best shot with tournament spots on the line.
Of all the regions in Middle Tennessee, I’m most excited to see the outcome of the three Class AAA matchups we have coming this week.
Without further delay, let’s take a look at each.
Region 4-AAA: Blackman (26-3) vs Oakland (22-7)
It’s almost always easy to get excited for a region championship game because you are typically promised a matchup between two evenly-matched opponents. That’s not the case in Region 4-AAA. Both Blackman and Oakland have proved they deserve to be in this title game, but I’m expecting it to be a one-sided affair in favor of the Blaze. These two teams have already met three times this year, with Blackman emerging victorious in all three showdowns. Blackman topped Oakland 57-44 on January 23, 60-40 on January 31 then beat the Patriots 52-34 just last week to claim the District 7-AAA crown.
Not only have the Blaze topped the Patriots in all three previous matchups, but they’ve only dropped three contests all season, two of which came to out-of-state foes and the other at the hands of top-ranked Oak Ridge.
Oakland has not played bad at all this year either. Of the Patriots’ seven losses, three were to out-of-state opponents, one was to Knoxville-based Grace Christian and the other three came at the hands of Blackman.
Region 5-AAA: Clarksville Northeast (23-9) vs Mt. Juliet (23-9)
I’m hoping these two teams’ records are foreshadowing for how tight this game will be. Both teams will be playing their 33rd game of the season this week, but only one will capture that 24th victory and the title of region champ. Clarksville Northeast topped Station Camp and Beech to earn its shot at the region title while Mt. Juliet beat Springfield and Lebanon to punch its ticket. Mt. Juliet is coming in to this game hot. The Golden Bears lost six of their first seven games this season, but have gone 22-3 since then. Two of those three losses came to the Station Camp and Beech teams Clarksville Northeast just defeated.
And while it has been a few years, Clarksville Northeast may be playing for a little revenge in this matchup. The last time these two teams met was in the opening round of the 2012 Region 5AAA tournament where Mt. Juliet ended its season.
Region 6-AAA: Brentwood (25-7) vs Independence (21-10)
Can Brentwood even the season series between these two teams, or will Independence win its third in a row over the Bruins?
These two Williamson County rivals have met three times previously this season with Brentwood winning the first matchup and Indy taking the second two.
Independence will be coming into this game hot. The Eagles had a six-game losing streak in mid-January, but they have won 10 in a row to earn a spot in the region title match including a 63-61 victory over Brentwood on January 31 and a 46-41 district championship win over the Bruins on February 18.
Which Brentwood team will we see this week? The one who handed Indy a 65-51 defeat in January, or the one that dropped two close contests to the same team as the season progressed?
I’m expecting a close game.
And in case Brentwood doesn’t win, shoutout to the Bruins on a much-improved season after finishing 12-16 a year ago.