T.J. Morgan, Jobe Publishing, Inc.
Note: Brackets are pictured at end of the story.
Photos/Metcalfe County Schools
Metcalfe County is the host site for the 2023 16th district basketball tournament. Both Metcalfe’s Hornets and Lady Hornets should see substantial crowds on Monday night in the first round as they take the floor with home court advantage. Metcalfe County Athletic Director Matt Shirley noted, “We are glad to be hosting the 16th district tournament this year.”
“There have been several very competitive district matchups this season and I expect this year’s tournament to be one of the most exciting we’ve seen in recent years for both boys and girls,” Shirley added.
Coming into the season, expectations were at an all-time high for the Hornets. The boys were ranked as high as third in region preseason polls, returning the dynamic duo of Wyatt Blythe and Jax Allen. While the season hasn’t played out as well as any honest Hornet fan would’ve desired, the boys will look to right the ship in the district tournament. Spectators should expect Hornet seniors Wyatt and Jax to enter the tournament with a vengeance after their early first round exit at Clinton County last season. Jax has led the Hornets this season averaging 21 points and 8 rebounds per game. While fighting injuries for parts of the season, Wyatt has averaged 21 points in Metcalfe’s district games. Jax and Wyatt have been supported by a deep rotation of Hornets this season, including Logan Phelps, C.T. Branstetter, Hudson Jessie, MJ Pendleton, Cade Button, Maddox Garrett, Hunter Nutgrass, Colton Huffman, Cabot Boling, and Ben Shirley.
District matchups have been a place where the Hornets have found success this season, finishing 6-2. The Hornets swept matchups with both Clinton and Cumberland County during the regular season, while splitting meetings with Russell County and rekindled district rival Monroe County. Both finishing 6-2 and splitting their regular season matchup against one another, Monroe and Metcalfe finished the regular season in a first place tie.
At the Old School Café Wednesday, just shortly after 11:00 AM local time, a trivial coin was flipped in the air at the district meeting, with the coveted number one district tournament seed on the line, Metcalfe Coach Brandon Brockman called tails in the air and when the coin came to a rest, tails prevailed. The host of the tournament, the Metcalfe Hornets, would be the number one seed.
As a result of Monroe County returning to the 16th this season, the district tournament will now include a Sunday play in game between the fourth and fifth seeded teams. Cumberland (1-7) and Russell (2-8) will square off on opening night, with the winner trying to complete the difficult task of taking on the number one seed, Metcalfe Hornets, just 27 short hours later.
While this season’s Lady Hornet rotation is even younger than last seasons, trading two seniors (Braelyn Davis & Jaycie Harper) for two 8th graders (Jozie Allen & Lily Blythe), the expectations for this group have not wavered. The Lady Hornets finished 6-2 in the district, securing the girls number one seed. After bringing home a district championship in ‘22 and ‘21, the Lady Hornets will look to cap off a three-peat for the first time in school history. The leading scorer from those 2021 and 2022 seasons, sophomore Kassady London, has also led the Lady Hornets in scoring this season, with 16 points per game. She is supported by junior Anna Grace Blythe, who is averaging 10 points per game this season, and emerging 8th grader Jozie Allen, who averaged 16 points and 11 rebounds in Metcalfe’s last two district games. Coach Heidi Coleman’s rotation also includes Lily Blythe, as well as the cast of Aubreys, Aubrey Jolly, Aubrey Glass, and Aubrie Compton.
Like the Hornets, the Lady Hornets will await the winner of a Sunday play in game between the Lady Lakers (0-8) and the Lady Panthers (4-4).