Area teams face elimination contests in the quarterfinals and semifinals of the region basketball tournaments, which begin Friday with the girls and Saturday with the boys.
Quarterfinal games are at the home court of the highest district finisher. Action moves to a neutral site for the semifinals and finals, which are Monday and Wednesday of next week for the girls and Tuesday and Thursday for the boys.
Teams that reach the championship also qualify for the sectional round, a place where winners earn their ticket to The Boro for the state tournament.
The neutral sites are Daniel Boone (Class AAA), Happy Valley (Class AA) and Sullivan North (Class A).
Here is a look at the six Region 1 events, with each team’s chances of walking away with the title.
Dark horse: Morristown East
The Indians are as strong of a favorite as there is in any of the six tournaments. They have a solid mix of guards and post strength, enough to be a legitimate state tournament contender.
It will take a special effort to knock off D-B, but Morristown East has the type of team to challenge the Indians in a potential semifinal matchup.
District 2 champ Sevier County is hot at the right time, winning 10 of its last 11. The quarterfinal pairing against slumping Tennessee High will be interesting, as will South-Doyle’s battle against Science Hill. The Cherokees are hard to gauge.
Predicted winner: Dobyns-Bennett (75 percent).
Others: Sevier County (9 percent), Science Hill (5), Morristown East (5), Tennessee High (2), Daniel Boone (2), Morristown West (1), South-Doyle (1).
Dark horse: Johnson County
It’s an interesting bracket with the potential semifinal contests looking like dandy matchups.
Elizabethton is deep in terms of scorers and has veteran leadership, the kind of pairing that goes well with the pressure of the postseason. District 2 champ Greeneville is an athletic bunch that is postseason dangerous.
Johnson County looks like the best bet to pull off a first-round road win. The other three home-standing teams should hold serve.
Predicted winner: Elizabethton (45 percent)
Others: Greeneville (25), Johnson County (15), Sullivan South (7), South Greene (3), Grainger (2), Chuckey-Doak (2), Unicoi County (1).
Favorite: University High
Dark horse: North Greene
University High beat the Huskies for a third time this season in the District 1 final. But the games have been close, and a fourth matchup could go North Greene’s way.
District 2 champ Cosby has been on fire with 13 wins in its last 14 games. And since a setback to Greenback on Dec. 4, Cosby has only lost to two Class AAA teams (Maryville and Knox Powell) and a Class AA team (Elizabethton).
Hampton’s district struggles left it on the road against Cosby in the first round, greatly hurting the Bulldogs’ chances.
Predicted winner: North Greene (30 percent)
Others: University High (35), Cosby (25), Hampton (6), Hancock County (1), Greenback (1), Jellico (1), Unaka (1).
Favorite: Science Hill
Dark horse: Daniel Boone
Everybody is chasing the Lady Hilltoppers. Not only is Science Hill the best team, the Lady Hilltoppers are playing the best of any team at this point in the season.
Morristown West saw its favorite role disappear with the injury of leading scorer Blayre Shultz. Now it will take a supreme effort just to top a pesky Daniel Boone team in the quarterfinals. The Lady Trailblazers would have to handle the ball better to have a shot at knocking off Science Hill in the semifinals after three losses so far.
District 2 champ Sevier County averaged only 37 points per game in three district tournament wins, which probably isn’t enough output to win a region title.
Dobyns-Bennett and Jefferson County split a pair of regular season games, and the rubber-match winner has a nice shot at reaching the finals.
Predicted winner: Science Hill (75 percent)
Others: Dobyns-Bennett (10), Daniel Boone (5), Jefferson County (4), Sevier County (2), Morristown West (2), Cherokee (1), Morristown East (1).
Favorite: South Greene
Dark horse: Elizabethton
South Greene’s resume is sparkling, and the Lady Rebels have tons of excellent postseason history — recent and otherwise. It will take a special effort for anybody to knock them off.
While the lower bracket appears to be South Greene’s domain, the upper bracket is full of intrigue. Can Grainger beat Sullivan Central for a third time this season? If the Lady Cougars win, can Elizabethton beat them for the third time in 17 days? How would the Lady Cyclones match up against a Grainger team that beat them by 22 points without Kaitlin Bailey in the Elizabethton lineup?
Predicted winner: South Greene (75 percent)
Others: Grainger (9), Elizabethton (8), Sullivan Central (4), Sullivan South (1), Greeneville (1), Unicoi County (1), Cumberland Gap (1).
Favorite: North Greene
Dark horse: Cosby
History says the District 1 teams will give District 2 fits in the first-round contests.
However, look for District 2 champion Cosby to be the team that bucks that trend. The Lady Eagles are 24-5 with 11 wins in a row, and could pose some problems for Cloudland in a potential semifinal meeting.
North Greene’s road to the finals would likely find its toughest step in a potential semifinal matchup against Unaka. A total of three points separated these teams in two meetings so far.
The Lady Rangers have alternated wins and losses over the last 13 games, meaning they would have to interrupt that streak to beat Greenback in the first round.
Cloudland has three losses this year against North Greene, but the losses have all been by eight points or less.
Predicted winner: Cloudland (30 percent)
Others: North Greene (35), Cosby (20), Unaka (9), Hancock County (2), Hampton (2), Washburn (1), Greenback (1).