December 15, 2013

A Look Ahead: It’s beginning to look a lot like...


— After a very boring past week for the local high school sports scene, with not much interesting happening — for those of you who haven’t had your coffee yet or didn’t follow the up-and-down stretch that Coahulla Creek’s football program went through in its coaching search, that’s sarcasm — get ready for the madness of holiday basketball and wrestling tournaments this week.

Of the 15 varsity basketball teams in Murray and Whitfield counties, all but three (Murray County’s girls and Southeast Whitfield’s boys and girls) will be in tournament competition during some very busy days for holiday hoops.

The court craziness begins Wednesday with the aptly named 2013 Alfa Insurance Mistletoe Madness tournament hosted by North Murray. Using both its on-campus gym and the Bagley Middle School gym just a stone’s throw away for Wednesday and Friday’s competition — Thursday and Saturday’s action is restricted to North Murray — there will be 24 games in the four-day tournament, which will end with 12 hours (at least) of basketball on Saturday.

Joining the host Mountaineers and Lady Mountaineers will be boys and girls squads from Christian Heritage, Calhoun, Gilmer and Sonoraville; the boys squads from Gordon Lee, Heritage-Catoosa and Morris Innovative; and the girls squads from Coahulla Creek, Dalton and Dade County.

Also this week, the State Farm Christmas Classic at Northwest Whitfield will feature eight boys teams.

The host Bruins will be joined by Coahulla Creek, Dalton, Murray County, Chattanooga’s Howard, Riverdale, Walker Valley (Cleveland, Tenn.) and White County. The three-day tourney tips off Wednesday, with each team playing three games, including Saturday’s games to determine final places.

Outside of those local events, Northwest’s Lady Bruins — who are off to an impressive 8-1 start — head north to Gatlinburg, Tenn., for the Smoky Mountain Classic, a three-day tournament that starts Thursday.

Be sure to check out the Prep Schedule on page 3B for the complete listing of all of the tournament action, plus other basketball games, swimming and diving meets and wrestling matches.

n On the mat, Dalton High School’s annual Carpet Classic wrestling tournament presents one of the season’s best opportunities to see the area’s programs in one place.

With the exception of Northwest — which heads to Chattanooga for the McCallie Classic on Friday and Saturday — every team in Murray and Whitfield counties is scheduled to be there Saturday for the Catamounts’ annual traditional tournament. Besides the Cats, that’s Coahulla Creek, Morris Innovative, Murray County, North Murray and Southeast.

One thing that could make a difference in what fans see on the mat this season is a change in the tourney’s date. Since the tournament returned in 2006 after a layoff of several years — it was once a two-day event that was held in late January — its regular date has been the first weekend in December.

A shift of two weeks may not seem like much, but on the mat that can go a long way in developing fitness. That could lead to more competitive matches and fewer pins than might happen early in the season.

Either way, the tournament has a well-deserved reputation as a solid test, and it’s a great chance to see local wrestlers in action. With area duals coming soon — the first weekend in January — coaches have just as much interest in finding how ready they are for the first wave of postseason action.

n And back on the basketball court — this time for the college game — Dalton State plays three home games this week before an eight-day layoff for Christmas break.

On Tuesday, the Roadrunners tip off at 7 p.m. against Southern Wesleyan University. This is a rematch for Dalton State (11-1), which won 97-95 on Nov. 5 in Central, S.C. The Warriors (8-4) will come to town on a three-game winning streak.

Dalton State sports information director James Beavers noted that the Warriors have another overtime loss in their four defeats — 78-75 on Nov. 23 to Martin Methodist, the 24th-ranked team in last week’s National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics’ Division I national poll — and that they also have a notable victory where the Roadrunners are concerned.

Southern Wesleyan won 82-75 earlier this month at Tennessee Wesleyan, the only team to hand Dalton State an official loss this season. (The Roadrunners dropped an exhibition last month against NCAA Division I member Jacksonville State in Alabama.)

On Friday and Saturday, fans will get double the basketball at the trade center via the Carpet Capital Christmas Classic. In addition to Dalton State’s 8 p.m. games against Concordia College of Selma, Ala., and Belhaven University of Jackson, Miss., there will be games at 6 each night. On Friday, Cumberland takes on Belhaven and on Saturday it’s Cumberland versus Concordia.

Like the Roadrunners, Cumberland (9-0) is playing some good basketball this season. Cumberland was ranked 24th in last week’s poll, so fans should take the chance to be there early and see the Bulldogs and their foes as well.



Marty Kirkland is sports editor of The Daily Citizen. In between all of this week’s games, matches and meets, he’s going to try to finish his Christmas shopping. You can write to him at martykirkland@daltoncitizen.com.