published Friday, January 6th, 2012

Big-game tickets on sale at 12

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    DeVonte Cooper of Brainerd High School shoots a free throw.
    Photo by Alex Washburn.
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Tickets for tonight's Howard-Brainerd game will go on sale at noon today at Brainerd High School. Admission is $5 and a large crowd is expected as usual.

There will be no girls' game, so the junior varsity boys' game will be played at 6:30, followed by the boys' varsity game at 8.

Panthers alumnus Tshombe High noted that Brainerd fans are all encouraged to wear white to the game in hopes of a "White-Out" for their battle against the Hustlin' Tigers.

Rackley recovering

Bledsoe County's Alyssa Rackley will be a game-time decision as to whether she'll be able to play tonight against Sequatchie County after slamming face-first into the court in Tuesday's game against McMinn Central.

Rackley was escorted off the court in the third quarter and did not return. Lady Warriors coach Susan Warden said the senior forward had root canal work not long ago.

"She went back to the dentist today," Warden said Thursday. "The initial prognosis was that she was to have no contact for five days, but when I spoke with her Wednesday, she said there was a possibility she would play Friday. We're just going to keep her fingers crossed and hope she'll be able to go."

Sequatchie's Lady Indians have injury problems of their own. Senior guard and Lee University signee Melanie Barker returned Tuesday after tearing ligaments in her right ankle in the team's first game of the season against York Institute, but senior post Haley Greene is out with a similar injury.

"Melanie was able to play some quality minutes against Soddy-Daisy on Tuesday," said her mother, Sequatchie coach Anita Barker. "We wanted to get her some time in the game and make sure that she'll be able to cut correctly. At this point, it's just going to be mental with her, but we're glad she's back."

The Lady Indians are 7-9 entering the Bledsoe game but have won six of their last seven.

"Melanie is our leader in points, rebounds, assists and steals," Barker said. "The girls did go through a bit of shock trauma before realizing they could play without her, and we've been doing well since."

Wrestling bonanza

There will be 44 teams in wrestling tournaments Saturday at Central and Soddy-Daisy.

Central's tournament, which actually began at Red Bank, is the oldest continuous invitational in the state. It will begins at 8:45 a.m. with 18 teams. First whistle for 26 teams in Soddy-Daisy's Trojan Invitational is at 9.

Central coach Marquis Dotson said he hopes to have his championship matches at 4:30. Cost of admission is $8 for adults and $5 for students. Admission for Soddy-Daisy's tournament is $10 for the day for adults and $5 for students.

In addition, Soddy-Daisy is hosting some dual meets today and will have a junior varsity tournament.

"We'll have nine mats -- six for the varsity and three for JV -- and we're hoping to start the finals about 5:30 or 6," Trojans coach Steve Henry said.

The Trojans actually will have two varsity tournaments running simultaneously with 13 teams in each. The top four finishers in each tournament will then wrestle for medals with winners, runners-up, third-place and fourth-place finishers wrestling each other.

"There was just no way to run a 26-team tournament," Henry said. "Carol Goss came up with the idea of breaking it up into two tournaments and then wrestling for the medals."

Goss, the Tyner principal who has run numerous region tournaments, will run one of the tournaments and Brad Jackson, the former East Ridge coach who now is an assistant principal at East Hamilton, will run the other.

"It's a unique format and it's a first for Tennessee," Henry said. "The feedback I have gotten from the coaches has been positive. Running the tournament this way will allow us to end the tournament in a timely fashion and allow the teams and their fans to get on the road at a decent hour."

He anticipates championship finals beginning no later than 6 p.m.

The Central Invitational field includes Alcoa, Arab (Ala.), Atlanta Buckhorn, Chattanooga Christian, David Crockett, Brainerd Christian Academy of Knoxville, East Hamilton, East Ridge, Farragut, Howard, McGavock, Red Bank, Sale Creek, Sequatchie County, Silverdale Baptist and Tyner.

Teams entered at Soddy-Daisy are Hendersonville Beech, Memphis Bolton, Bradley Central, Brentwood, Collins Hill (Ga.), Cookeville, Cordova, Dobyns-Bennett, Knoxville Gibbs, Huntsville (Ala.) Grissom, Maryville Heritage, Trussville (Ala.) Hewitt, Independence, Knoxville Central, McCallie, Morristown West, Notre Dame, Murfreesboro Oakland, Pigeon Forge, Rhea County, Science Hill, Tullahoma and Walker Valley.

AAU honors Elsea

Veteran referee Donnie Elsea has been named National AAU wrestling folkstyle referee of the year and will receive the award at the ESPN Disney Duals in Orlando this summer.

Elsea began officiating in 1970 and has worked 26 TSSAA state tournaments. He began officiating AAU tournaments in 1999. In 2008 he started a training program for AAU officials and currently serves as the head official for Team Tennessee AAU.

He was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame's Tennessee chapter in 2008.

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