The Cumberland County elementary basketball tournament opened Thursday night at both CCHS and SMHS under a new format which is ridiculous.
In the western division, both South teams are the top seed, and have earned byes into the the division championship games.
In the girls, the third seed Pleasant Hill vs. fourth seed Brown winner will play second seed Martin, and the winning team advancing to play South in the division championship game Monday night. In boys action, third seed Martin plays Pleasant Hill in the opening round with the winner advancing against second seed Brown. That winner will take on South for the division title. Those six games are played at CCHS.
In the eastern division girls, fourth seed Homestead plays fifth seed Pine View and the winner will take on third seed Crab Orchard. That winner will advance to play second seed Stone and the chance to advance to the championship game versus North.
In boys, Pine View, the fifth seed, and Crab Orchard, fourth seed, open tournament play. The winner of that contest will play third seed Homestead, with the winner advancing against second seed North. The winning team there will play Stone in the division championship. All eight games are played at SMHS.
The winners and runners-up move to CCHS for the countywide championships.
A fault with this system is South played only half a county schedule. Instead of playing a 16-game slate, they played just eight; therefore, eight games determined the seedings for this year's county tournament.
On the positive side, the format eliminates the possibility of some lopsided scores based on the TSSAA mercy rule. If one team is ahead 35 points or more, the clock continues to run; however, none of the county elementary schools are members of the TMSAA.
The lopsided scores could have occurred if a lower seed had played the top two seeds in each division.
Looking back at this year's varsity schedule, games were played two nights a week, with as few as two double-headers to as many as four per session. The west side was entirely idle during the regular season, and some nights, as many as three teams had nights off.
This is silly.
There is one solution to this. Seed the teams one through nine based on a 16-game schedule and play the two eight-nine games the Thursday before the opening Saturday of the tournament. Play eight games that day with the semi-finals the following Thursday and the championship games the following Saturday.
This doesn't tie up both high school gyms for seven days.
Another issue is playing tournament games on nights when both high school's are playing.
Both schools play Friday night — CCHS at home against district foe White County, and SMHS on the road at district foe Scott County. Both teams are on the road on Feb. 7, while CCHS is at home on Feb. 10 for senior night, and SMHS has moved its game with Clarkrange from Feb. 10 to Feb. 11.
A logical reason for the seven nights is money. The gate will be hurt Friday as both high schools are in action. Saturday's gate will be effected, as there are games at the same time at both high schools.
There is a saying, "If it isn't broke, don't fix it." The elementary tournament was fine until it was split into divisional play, but now has some kinks in it. It is not going to be right until an elementary sports coordinator is in place to oversee the programs.
Student athletes are going to have to go to the schools they are zoned. The board of education is going to have to do a better job checking the residences of student athletes. Membership in the TMSAA would solve this and other issues with the elementary programs. No one is willing to step up and look into these problems. It is time for the board of education, director of schools and principals get their heads together and figure this out.
Last Saturday, I attended the UTC Legends Weekend for the Lady Mocs, who honored former players, coaches and trainers.
There was a reception before the Lady Mocs 63-44 victory over the University of North Carolina-Greensboro.
Former CCHS Lady Jet Heather Dykes was among the former players who were attended the Legends Weekend.
Dykes joined former Lady Mocs Nmeka Irons, Natalie Stephens, Heather McDivitt, Miranda Warfield, Holly Talley, Jennifer Wilson, Natalie Carmichael, Angela Burleson, Nicole Mattison, Shamaya Sermons and Mandy Rollins, along with former Coach Grace Keith, who was hired as the first Lady Mocs coach in 1974.
"Heather was a hard-nosed player," said Coach Wes Moore.
"The Legends has been a great event. I've never grabbed a rebound or hit a shot. It's all about the players. We've all driven vans and swept floors, but we're also now blessed to be in a situation where women's basketball has become kind of the chosen one in women's sports," added Moore at his post-game conference with the media.
"We're able to take better care of our kids now, give them a better experience. That's something the people before us weren't able to do."
Unable to attend the Legends Weekend was Mississippi State Sharon Fanning Odom, former UTC player and coach, but Chattanooga is going have a home-and-home series starting next season with a trip to Starkville, with MSU coming to Chattanooga the following season.
The Legends Weekend is very nice event, and I plan to attend next year.
(Ed Greif is the Chronicle sports editor and his column appears periodically.)