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Dobyns-Bennett sports solid top-to-bottom roster

Jeff Birchfield • Updated Nov 21, 2019 at 8:30 AM

It’s back to the top for Science Hill in Big 7 Conference boys basketball, according to preseason expectations among the coaches.

Here’s a look at each of the league teams.

Coaches’ picks

1. Science Hill

2. Tennessee High

3. Dobyns-Bennett

4. Daniel Boone

5. David Crockett

6. Cherokee

7. Volunteer

Science Hill

The Hilltoppers return seven of their top players from last season and add Griffin Ballard, a top player at Liberty Bell Middle School before his family went overseas for his father’s employment.

With six players 6-foot-3 or taller, this is the biggest team coach Ken Cutlip has had since 2009. Ballard (6-0, Sr.) will likely get some starts at point guard.

Coming off a disappointing 17-17 year that ended in the region semifinals, the Hilltoppers also feature Jordan McLoyd (5-11, Sr.) as a top scorer, Laithen Shingledecker (6-2, Jr.) as a versatile player and Jake Matherne (6-6, Sr.) as a force inside.

Others expected to start at times are Keynan Cutlip (6-2, So.), Amare Redd (6-3, Jr.), Thomas Messimer (6-5, Jr.) and Hunter Phillips (6-5, Sr.).

The reserves — Dalvin Mathes (5-8, So.), Ben Edwards (6-4, Jr.), Caleb Mazoff (6-1, Jr.) and Landon Willis (6-7, So.) — should see many minutes as well.

Tennessee High

Matching much of Science Hill’s height, along with athleticism, the Vikings are expected to challenge for the conference crown.

Cole McBrayer (5-10, Sr.) will be the point for a team that went 23-9 and lost in region quarterfinals a year ago. Other projected starters are Reece Proffitt (5-10, Sr.), Mchale Bright (6-3, Sr.), Blake Fauver (6-7, Sr.) and Nolan Wishon (6-7, Sr.), who is quicker than a year ago.

Athleticism reigns through a lineup that includes Jaden Keller (6-3, Jr.), Isaiah Smith (5-9, Jr.), Brayden Henard (5-11, Sr.), Ezekiel Johnson (6-4, Jr.) and Isaiah Smith (5-9, Jr.), who is coming off a calf injury.

Dobyns-Bennett

The Indians lost most of their scoring from last year’s 30-5 team, which lost to state champion Bearden in the sectionals.

Abiah Releford (6-1, Sr.), who averaged five points per game last season, will be expected to up his production significantly. Once football season ends, Dalton Harkleroad (5-8, Sr.) and Zane Whitson (6-2, Jr.) should join him in the starting lineup, along with Malachi Hale (6-4, So.) and Jack Browder (6-3, So.).

Greg Allen (6-0, So.) has developed into a shooter, while Jahson Dennis (6-4, Jr.) may be the most improved overall. Football players Jaden Alderson (5-11, Sr.) and Braxton Kulbacki (6-2, Sr.) are looked to bring more leadership on the court.

McKinley Tincher (5-10, So.) draws rave reviews for his talent, and Brady Stump (5-10, Fr.) and Kaleb Crumley (6-1, Sr.) give the Indians a solid top-to-bottom roster.

Daniel Boone

Trailblazers coach Chris Brown is having a hard time naming a starting lineup because it is likely to change depending on the matchup.

Ayden Begley (6-0, Jr.), Jared Adkins (5-11, Sr.), Cade Norris (6-2, Sr.), Caleb Head (5-10, Jr.), Zach Saul (5-10, Sr.), Crowder Jones (6-3, Jr.) and Colby Backus (6-5, Sr.) are all projected starters at some point.

Backus has added 20 pounds of muscle and increased his jumping ability.

Chase McGonigle (6-1, Sr.) could also contribute quite a bit to a team coming off a 13-14 season. Samuel Stroupe (5-9, Jr.), Nevada Goodwin (6-3, So.), Jason Gage (6-0, Jr.), Jackson Jenkins (5-11, Jr.) and Harrison Sherfey (6-5, Jr.) round out the roster.

David Crockett

The Pioneers may have the single best athlete around in 6-4 junior Donta Hackler. Dawson Wagner (6-0, So.) will be at the point with Mack Hensley (6-0, Sr.), Mason Britton (6-4, Jr.) and Prince Kollie (6-3, Jr.) the other projected starters for first-year coach Cody Connell.

Coming off a disappointing 8-20 season that ended in the district quarterfinals, Crockett will have size with bruisers Caleb Hackler (6-5, Sr.) and Tony Davis (6-3, Jr.) inside.

Avery Letcher (6-0, Sr.), Chris Reagan (5-10, Jr.), Eric Dunbar (6-0, Sr.), Colton Estepp (6-3, Jr.) and Jake Gaffney (6-3, Sr.) will give the Pioneers depth.

Cherokee

Former Chiefs assistant Trey Fields takes over as head coach for a team that went 9-19 and lost in the district quarterfinals last season.

Carter Metz (5-11, So.) has added 17 pounds and takes over as the point guard. Other starters will be Jonas Leeper (6-2, Sr.), Micah Jones (6-0, Sr.), Breiydon Gilliam (6-2, Jr.) and Andrew Cope (6-4, Sr.).

The second five comprises Joe Nichols (6-1, Sr.), Jonathon Fulkerson (6-1, Sr.), Hayzen Hayes (5-11, Jr.), Jacob Kenner (5-11, Jr.) and Jason Sattler (5-11, Jr.).

Volunteer

The Falcons look to turn the page on last season’s 6-24 campaign with a team coach Mike Poe believes will get better as the season wears on.

Jon Wes Lovelace, the state runner-up in boys golf, takes his talents to the hardwood where the 6-1 sophomore is the team’s top shooter.

The team’s senior assets are Zack Evans, Brody Hunley, Luke Bellamy and Dakota Hicks. The junior class includes Evan Berry, Tucker Bellamy and 6-6 Eli Amyx.

Young players on the roster include sophomores Heath Miller and Garrison Barrett and freshmen Bradin Minton and Andrew Knittle.

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