CLEVELAND, Tenn. – Bradley Central’s Rhyne Howard was voted the District 5-3A Player of the Year during Wednesday’s District 5-3A coaches’ meeting.
Howard claimed her third straight POY honor – all in unanimous voting by coaches – while leading the undefeated and second-ranked Bearettes to their seventh straight regular-season championship. Bradley will be the No. 1 seed for the postseason tournament that begins on Feb. 14 at Walker Valley High School.
Bradley has claimed eight straight tournament titles – the last seven under coach Jason Reuter – and head into this year’s tourney as an overwhelming favorite to extend the streak to nine.
The Bearettes (25-0, 12-0), ranked No. 2 in Tennessee by MaxPreps, also placed junior Kaleigh Hughes and sophomore Cambree Mayo on the all-district squad.
To the surprise of no one, league coaches bypassed voting Reuter the 2017-18 Coach of the Year despite the team’s total domination of the district’s regular season. The honor went to Cleveland’s Tony Williams.
The Bearettes swept Cleveland, as they did every other league opponent, this second and won by 49 and 51 points.
Only two teams, East Hamilton and Walker Valley, managed to keep a losing margin under double digits. The Lady Hurricanes lost by nine and then 27 points. The Lady Mustangs lost by 8 points and then 48 in the second time around.
The voting by girls’ coaches comes down to awarding the district’s top award for the team that comes in second, no matter the distance.
Here’s a breakdown of Bradley’s dominating league play against the other three foes:
McMinn County – The Bearettes won by twice by a combined 51 points.
Ooltewah – Bradley swept the series by a combined 127 points.
Soddy-Daisy – The Bearettes romped twice by 124 points.
Bradley’s winning margins ranged from eight to 72 points. The Bearettes scored as many as 96 points and didn’t allow more than 43 to any district opponent. Three times Bradley held the opponent to 22 points and once to 23.
“I’m very pleased with our season to this point, happy with Rhyne’s selection as the player of the year for the second straight year, and I wish we could have gotten more of our players recognized,” Reuter said. “But we’re moving on and getting ready for the tournament.”
On the boys’ side, East Hamilton’s Justin Dozier was selected as the player of the year and Cleveland’s Jason McCowan earned his second straight coach of the year honor.
The Blue Raiders (19-3, 11-0) had the upper hand all season and only once failed to beat a district opponent by at least 10 points. The edged rival Bradley Central, 60-55, on Jan. 30.
Cleveland is coming off a 53-point trouncing of McMinn County on Tuesday and will face East Hamilton, currently the second-place team in the standings, on Thursday. The Raiders ripped the Hurricanes, 66-42, on Dec. 1 to open district play.
McCowan’s squad also posted three wins with 40-plus point spreads against Ooltewah, Soddy-Daisy and Walker Valley.
As for the tournaments, the Blue Raiders are locked in as the No. 1 seed and East Hamilton has pretty firm grip on the No. 2 slot. Walker Valley and McMinn County are the likely Nos. 3 and 4 teams and Ooltewah and Soddy-Daisy the sixth and seventh.
Cleveland wouldn’t play until Feb. 17 in the semifinals. The same holds true for the Bearettes.
Hunter Gremore’s East Hamilton girls’ are a pretty solid No. 2 and even if the Lady Canes should finish tied with Cleveland, East Hamilton won a coin toss for the No. 2 slot.
McMinn County and Walker Valley are likely to fall into the Nos. 4 and 5 matchup and Ooltewah and Soddy-Daisy, with two wins between them in league play, in the Nos. 6 and 7 positions.
The coaches voted among themselves 6-1 to slightly changing the all-district selection process starting next year.
In 2019, each of the seven boys’ and girls’ teams get its highest votegetter on the team, thus assuring each squad of one selection. Then, the next eight highest votegetters will round out the teams.
More definitive bracket information will be published when teams with games remaining sort things out.
2018 All-District 5-3A Teams
Rhyne Howard, Bradley Central, Player of the Year
Tony Williams, Cleveland, Coach of the Year
Bradley Central – Kaleigh Hughes, Cambree Mayo
East Hamilton – Madison Hayes, Dezah Lacy
Cleveland – Emma Flowers, Madison Dasher, Bailey Anderson
McMinn County – Kaitlynn Hennessee, Kaylen Hicks
Walker Valley – Abbey Davis, Lauren Lay, Macey Clark
Justin Dozier, East Hamilton, Player of the Year
Jason McCowan, Cleveland, Coach of the Year
Cleveland – Dionte Ware, Mullek Bradford, Devontae Davis, Romeo Wykle, Jacobi Wood
East Hamilton – DaVae Hughley, Cameron Montgomery
Walker Valley – Kolten Gibson, Jordan Munck
Ooltewah – Cam Chambers, Kobe Smith
McMinn County – Taurean Jones
Bradley Central – Lameric Tucker
Soddy-Daisy – Spencer Keylon
(Contact Larry Fleming at email@example.com and on Twitter @larryfleming44)