published Friday, February 14th, 2014

District tourneys finally starting

  • photo
    Howard's Ryheem Finley (21) takes the ball down the court.
    Photo by C. B. Schmelter.
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Area high school basketball players may have enjoyed being out of school this week after a second round of snowfall within a month, but despite most schools in the area being closed again today, TSSAA postseason play finally is getting under way.

The first tipoff is in the District 5-AAA tournament this afternoon at 3 at East Hamilton.

Although Hamilton County schools are closed and the department of education has a policy that no after-school activities are allowed on days when schools are closed, games will be played in four area district tournaments that include Hamilton County schools.

One is 6-A where Lookout Valley's boys will be hosting Richard Hardy. Yellow Jackets coach Joe Galloway, a school board member, said he received news about being permitted to play from HCDE assistant superintendent Dr. Lee McDade.

"It's an unusual situation," Galloway said. "It hit on Friday, so that was good, really and truly."

Galloway said the board of education makes the decision on whether to close schools after questioning principals about their parking lots and whether they think their buildings are approachable. With some back roads in mountainous areas still likely treacherous this morning, school was called off. But Galloway believes because of an improving forecast for later in the day, games are permitted to be played.

"It's different if you have a hard, fast rule in place," Galloway said. "You'd like to see common sense prevail, and in this case I think it did."

After play-in games, the rest of the District 5-A tournament is scheduled to be held at Arts & Sciences, which is governed by Hamilton County. CSAS boys' coach and tournament director Mark Dragoo said a decision was made Wednesday to just postpone the start of the tournament until Saturday -- for one reason, so teams could work in a practice.

"We've got Copper Basin in the Polk County school system, Hamilton County with us and three private schools, so essentially we're dealing with five different organizations," Dragoo said. "I brought up to the other guys that the simple thing, since we had to lock in officials and lock in with parents, was let's just go ahead and start Saturday. The fact we only have five schools made it easier."

Contact Kelley Smiddie at or 423-757-6653. Follow him at

about Kelley Smiddie...

Kelley Smiddie is a sports writer who has worked at the Times Free Press for 12 years. He covers high school sports and softball. Kelley’s hometown is Chattanooga, and he graduated from Brainerd High School and graduated Chattanooga State and UTC. Contact Kelley at 423-757-6653 or

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