Howard’s Hustlin’ Tigers, Chattanooga’s last hope for a state basketball title this season, will play East Nashville on Thursday in the TSSAA Class AA tournament at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro.
The pairings were made Saturday morning in Hermitage, Tenn.
Coach Walter McGary’s Hustlin Tigers and Eagles will tip off their quarterfinal game at 6 p.m. Eastern Daylight time on Thursday at the Murphy Center. The winner takes on the Knoxville Fulton-Jackson South Side winner at 7:45 p.m. on Friday.
The Hustlin’ Tigers (27-5), who captured District 6-AA and Region 3-AA tournament titles, roar into the state tournament riding an eight-game winning streak and winners of 11 of their last 12 games.
McGary did not return messages left by Chattanoogan.com seeking comments for this story.
The Eagles (27-7) beat Cheatham County, 59-54, to earn a spot in the state tournament. After an eight-game winning streak, East Nashville has dropped two of its last five games. Both losses were against Christ Presbyterian Academy: 51-40 in the District 10-AA title game and 65-36 in the Region 5-AA championship showdown.
The Hustlin’ Tigers are ranked No. 3 and East Nashville No. 8 in the latest CoachT.com poll.
Four other teams in the Class AA bracket also have top-10 positions in the CoachT.com poll – No. 1 Jackson South Side, No. 4 CPA, No. 7 Knox Fulton and No. 10 Livingston Academy.
Howard is making its 24th state tournament appearance, finishing second in 1972 to Chattanooga Riverside and 1980 to Memphis Northside. The Hustlin’ Tigers are 14-24 in state tournament play.
Howard defeated rival Brainerd, 75-64, in the district title game and then edged McMinn Central, 60-59, for the region championship. In its sub-state game, Howard tripped DeKalb County, 61-58.
In 2012, Howard advanced to the state tournament with a 21-10 record, but lost to nemesis Liberty Tech, 62-52. The game was tied 21-21 at halftime and Liberty Tech outscored the Hustlin’ Tigers, 41-31, in the second half.
Wayne Caudle led Howard with 16 points and 13 rebounds, 10 on the defensive glass and Cudjoe Young added 10 points.
Six-foot-7, 275-pound post Brandon Walters scored only seven points and took just six shots. Walters had seven rebounds and zero points in the first half. For the game, he pulled down 10 rebounds.
Note: The most surprising team to make this year's tournament is 8-23 Lake County. The Falcons upended Memphis Academy of Health Sciences, 89-85, in the sub-state round to earn a state tourney berth.
The Falcons play Watertown (30-3) on Wednesday at 6 p.m.
(E-mail Larry Fleming at email@example.com)