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Alcoa’s Tre Tate eyes the basketball as Heritage’s Cody Wagner works his way up court during the Blount County Basketball Jamboree last Thursday at William Blount.

Photo by Brandon Shinn

Alcoa’s Tre Tate eyes the basketball as Heritage’s Cody Wagner works his way up court during the Blount County Basketball Jamboree last Thursday at William Blount.

William Blount senior Sami Van Vranken sets to shoot at the free-throw line.

Photo by Brandon Shinn

William Blount senior Sami Van Vranken sets to shoot at the free-throw line.

Lady Tornado freshman Kayla Newman inbounds against Heritage’s Jordan Johnson.

Photo by Brandon Shinn

Lady Tornado freshman Kayla Newman inbounds against Heritage’s Jordan Johnson.

T.J. Kimble puts up a shot for the Rebels as William Blount’s Cody Mathis defends.

Photo by Brandon Shinn

T.J. Kimble puts up a shot for the Rebels as William Blount’s Cody Mathis defends.

Considering a substantial portion of the roster won’t join the team for a few weeks yet, you’ve got to like Alcoa’s chances on the basketball court this season.

Matt Shown led the way with 11 points in the quarter, and the Tornado basketball team overtook Heritage, 22-15, in a quarter of scrimmage play at the Blount County High School Jamboree last Thursday night at William Blount.

The 6-foot-5 Shown looked impressive around the basket, with point guard and District 4AA tournament most valuable player Tre Tate pushing the Tornadoes at quick pace. Sophomore Kenny Dean had six for an Alcoa team that won’t reach full strength until several players finish the postseason with the school’s football team.

Seniors Darrell Warren and Steven Isom and junior Vanderbilt Hambrick will add quite a lot to a Tornado club that reached the region tournament semifinals last season. Junior Colby Tate and sophomore Ezekial Koko will be moving to the hardwood when football is done as well.

It’s by no means a guaranteed trip to sectionals and beyond in March. Carter and Fulton are still out there, but, from the looks of things, the Tornadoes are intent on giving the Hornets and Falcons, respectively, a run for the money.

Graduation took a heavy toll on the Mountaineer roster following last season, but Heritage didn’t look to be planning a retreat anytime soon on Thursday. All five Mountaineer buckets in the quarter with the Tornadoes came by way of the 3-pointer, with Matt Wilburn and Cody Wagner tickling the twine twice each, Corey Stroud finding the mark for the fifth.

Bearden remains atop the mountain in District 4AAA. The Bulldogs return a talent-soaked roster, but, if the Mountaineers can shoot like they did Thursday for the season, who’s to say Heritage won’t be in the mix come February?

Who’s to say Maryville’s Rebels or William Blount’s Governors won’t be right there alongside them?

When the Governors and Rebels get together, it’s always serious business, and a quarter of play in the jamboree was no different.

Sophomore guard T.J. Kimble tallied first for Maryville, only to see junior Matt Connatser answer right away for William Blount. With the two teams never separated by three points for the duration, the Rebels got a bucket and a pair of free throws from freshman Isaac Edmiston late to retake the lead, Maryville holding on to take the quarter, 19-18.

Like the Tornadoes, the Rebels have several players still with the school’s football team, most notably swing man Stian Romberg and shooting guard Desmund Horne.

The Governors enter 2010-11 without the services of school all-time leading scorer Micah Ballard to look to for points, but Ryan Rice, Matt Connatser, Pete Kenny and Mikal Parrish appear to give William Blount a variety of weaponry to push the tempo and score from all angles. Is it enough to run with the Bulldogs? Can any of Blount County’s three AAA schools keep the pace Bearden will surely set?

We shall see in short order.

On the girls’ side, Alcoa freshman Kayla Newman looks as if the move to the high school game may not be that big a leap. Last season’s Blount County Middle School Player of the Year collected a steal and breakaway basket for the season’s first bucket in a 15-13 win over Heritage. Newman would later pop for a 3 as the Lady Tornadoes opened the quarter with a 13-0 run.

Junior Halie Sellers finally got Heritage going with a trey, and the Lady Mountaineers reduced the deficit to two on a Pryor, Kathryn put back with three minutes left. Heritage could have a hotshot freshman of its own in Bethany Massey, the Lady Mountaineer newcomer accounting for four of her team’s points in the quarter.

Reigning district player of the year Torie Vaught put up four quick points, junior Miranda Maples three, and Maryville sprinted to a quick seven-point lead and pulled the starters. William Blount wasn’t quite finished, though. Scoring ace Tatum Burstrom cut to the basket to spark a run that would see the Lady Governors take the quarter, 18-15.

Kristen Fields knocked down a 3 to finish with five for a William Blount team that reach the region tournament semifinals a year ago. Guard Sami Van Vranken, one of only two seniors on the team, would add three.

William Blount shook up the establishment last season. While size around the basket will be just as much of an issue as it was last season, this collection of Lady Governors genuinely has the firepower to go a lot further.

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