While the venue has changed and there are seven new teams competing, both the boys' and girls' champions from last year's Times Free Press Best of Preps basketball tournament have returned to defend their titles.
GPS and McCallie are both back to compete in the annual holiday tournament, which tips off today at Chattanooga State and concludes Saturday night.
The Bruisers, who have actually won each of the last two Best of Preps titles, used the experience of last year's tournament -- how to handle the format of playing on consecutive days, and at different times of the day -- as a blueprint to later claim the Division II state championship.
"We don't have much varsity game experience, so for this group to get to play in front of a lot of people is a pretty big deal for us for the rest of the season," said GPS coach Susan Crownover, whose team returned just one starter from last season. "I think for everybody that plays in it, the format helps to prepared and adjusted for playoff games. And I like to see how the kids respond to pressure and playing a lot of games in a short amount of time."
The tournament, which will feature eight games all three days, tips off with four girls' games, beginning with Chattanooga Christian vs. Arts & Sciences at 10 a.m., followed by East Hamilton against Baylor, Cleveland against Silverdale Baptist and GPS plays Brainerd.
The boys' games tip off at 4 with Red Bank taking on Notre Dame, followed by Baylor playing the Chattanooga Patriots, McCallie vs. Boyd-Buchanan and Ooltewah against North Jackson (Ala.).
The tournament continues with loser's bracket games Friday morning and winner's bracket games Friday afternoon, with consolation games early Saturday and the girls' championship set for 7 p.m. with the boys' title game to follow.
Stephen has covered local sports in the tri-state area for more than 24 years, having been with the Times Free Press since its inception, and has been an assistant sports editor since 2005. Stephen is among the most decorated writers in the TFP’s newsroom, winning numerous state, regional and national writing awards, including seven in 2013 and a combined 12 in the last two years. He was named one of the top 10 sports writers ...