The quest to be one of the teams hoisting a gold trophy in early March began in earnest Monday, the first day of practice for TSSAA basketball teams.
The season is set to begin Nov. 18, although games created to provide funds for the state's Sports Hall of Fame exhibit can be played the week before. Hall of Fame games are optional, and each team is limited to two.
Boyd-Buchanan's boys return their starting lineup of Hall Allen, Q.D. Cox, Zach Jenkins, Justus McMillan and Austin Walker from last season's 26-8 team, along with key reserves Colby Arendale and Jeremiah Nason. Allen, the point guard, had toe surgery in mid-August and is expected miss the first couple of weeks.
The Buccaneers' season ended with a 53-49 loss to Clarkrange in a state sectional. Their first game this year is Nov. 12, when they host Van Buren County.
"Six months, seven months is a long time to dwell on that loss," Boyd-Buchanan coach Cole Rose said. "It could be good for us. It left tastes in our mouths that we want to do more.
"As soon as the school year started, I think all of my guys marked this day on their calendars. We had a really good summer. We did all our preseason conditioning. I think we're ready to get started."
Wrestling starts alsoAs his first official practice began Monday, Cleveland wrestling coach Jake Yost wasn't sure if the defending state champion Blue Raiders would even get mat time.
"We're getting weight-certification stuff taken care of, so it may just be lifting and running today," Yost said.
Cleveland would like to make a run at dual repeats -- Class AAA state duals and Division I traditional titles -- and those hopes are boosted by the return of several standouts, including Chris Debien and Austin Stevison.
"I haven't paid that much attention to who has what returning, but I would imagine we'd have a shot," Yost said. "We made some gains over the summer -- took 20-plus to the [University of Tennessee at Chattanooga] camp. We want to get our numbers up, and we had our largest turnout (more than 20) for preseason workouts. We'll probably get a few more that didn't come out for preseason and then at least 12 more once football season is over."
Tennessee teams can begin having official meets on Nov. 18.
Year off for Jones
Veteran basketball coach Jerry Jones will not coach the Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe Warriors this season, according to athletic director Todd Windham. Jones, who is nearing 600 wins in a career that spans 47 years, made the decision for medical reasons, according to Windham, who noted that Jones is not retiring.
"Coach Jones' status for the 2014-15 season will be determined at a later date," Windham stated in a school release. "We thank Coach Jones for his many years of service to our athletic department and look forward to his possible return."
Former LFO girls' coach Wayne Weaver, who played and coached under Jones, will guide the Warriors this season.
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