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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.


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.


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.


Boys highlight games


Science Hill at Daniel Boone

David Crockett at Dobyns-Bennett

Hampton at University High


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.


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


Science Hill at Daniel Boone

David Crockett at Dobyns-Bennett

Cloudland at Unaka


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.


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