Updated: Feb 3, 2021
Months of battles, weeks of setbacks and hundreds of baskets later, the 7-8 grade elementary tournament is ready to start. Two teams will be crowned champions next week.
Both Centertown teams enter the tournament as the teams to beat. The Warriors and Lady Warriors each finished the season 10-0, earning the No. 1 seeds. Both will be in action Friday at Bobby Ray, which will host the entire tournament.
The other five schools in the league - Boyd, Dibrell, Eastside, Irving College and Morrison - will all be looking to take down Centertown this week. They will also be battling each other starting on Thursday.
The girls tournament kicks off Thursday afternoon when the No. 3 seed Dibrell Lady Wildcats take on the Boyd Lady Broncos, who finished winless this season, at 4 p.m. Dibrell finished the regular season 6-4, including beating Irving College Tuesday night in its regular-season finale.
The Morrison Lady Eagles, who finished 5-5 to earn the No. 4 seed, will take on the Irving College Lady Tigers at 7 p.m. Thursday.
The first round of the boys tournament features No. 3 seed Irving College (6-4) taking on No. 6 Boyd (0-10) at 5:15 p.m. For the nightcap, No. 4 Dibrell (4-6) will play No. 5 Eastside.
The Irving College Tigers and Dibrell Wildcats were the only two teams who didn't know their seed until Tuesday. The Tigers earned the No. 3 seed by beating Dibrell at home and now they turn their focus to Boyd.
"It helps that we just played Boyd Saturday. We know what to expect," said Irving College coach John Bryan O'Connor after his team's win Tuesday. "We'll get in a good day of practice Wednesday. Today was the first time we've had all 10 guys in about three weeks. We've had guys out.
"It's nice to have everybody. Our No. 1 goal is to be playing our best come tournament time and I think we're doing that. Just getting on a roll and going into the tournament is what we're looking for."
With its loss Tuesday, Dibrell finds itself playing a familiar foe when it comes to tournament time. The Wildcats will be facing Eastside, coached by Kyle Cannon. Cannon and Dibrell coach Dustin Curtis have been in several battles over the years, usually in the championship game.
Curtis believes his Wildcats could be a dark horse in the bracket if everything falls into place.
"I think we can play with anybody if we put a full game together," said Curtis when asked about the tournament draw. "We have to take care of Eastside. They are a physical team. That's their M.O. Coach Cannon is a great coach and he always has his teams ready to play.
"We have to match their physicality. We have to worry about them first and then we'll worry about Centertown if we can get through the first game."
Centertown coach Rex Crabtree knows his 10-0 Warriors will have to be at the top of their game when the tournament begins. He is using last year’s results as a warning to his team to not get overconfident.
“We know we will get everyone’s best shot. We talked about how Westwood won the regular season last year, but finished fourth in the tournament,” said Crabtree. “Everyone wanted to beat them and were playing their best. That’s what everyone wants to do to us – we will make someone’s entire season if they beat us.
“We have to stay focused and play one game at a time. We can’t think about a championship until we win the semifinal game.”
The Centertown Warriors are set to play the winner of the Dibrell-Eastside matchup at 8:15 p.m. Friday, Feb. 5. The Lady Warriors will take the court at 7 p.m. Friday, awaiting the winner of the Morrison-Irving College matchup.
The No. 2 seed in the boys tournament is Morrison, which finished the regular season 7-3. Chris Roberson, leader of the Eagles, hopes his team is the one to beat Centertown. He knows it won’t be easy for any team though.
“For somebody to take out Centertown, it will take a near perfect game and for Centertown to have an off night shooting. As soon as you slow down on player, another steps up,” said Roberson.
As for his team, led by star brothers Isaiah and Kristopher Robledo, Roberson is like the rest of the coaches in the league – hoping for the best performances at the perfect time.
“Our goal is to play together as a team and play to our fullest potential for four quarters on both sides of the court. We’ve shown our potential in quarters or halves, but not the whole game yet. In the end, we want to push for a chance at the championship,” said Roberson.
Morrison will play at 5:15 p.m. against the winner of Thursday's Irving College-Boyd matchup.
The Eastside Lady Bulldogs will play Friday at 4 p.m. against the winner of the Dibrell-Boyd game.
The Warren County Sports Authority is working with local channel WCS-TV in hopes of broadcasting the finals live next Monday, Feb. 8. More announcements on broadcasts will follow on the WCSA Facebook page.
The finals are set for 7 and 8:15 p.m. next Monday Third-place consolation games will be played Monday at 4 and 5:15 p.m.
During each night of games, Bobby Ray will clear the gym after the 5:15 p.m. games for cleaning.
Final regular season standings
1. Centertown 10-0
2. Morrison 7-3
3. Irving College 6-4
4. Dibrell 4-6
5. Eastside 3-7
6. Boyd 0-10
1. Centertown 10-0
2. Eastside 7-3
3. Dibrell 6-4
4. Morrison 5-5
5. Irving College 2-8
6. Boyd 0-10