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The Genuine Article: Recounting the top 10 moments from 2017-18 TSSAA Sports year

By Thomas Sellers Jr.

The Best Sellers’ List originally started 14 years ago as a way to recap some of the top highlights of the TSSAA sports year. The tradition continues in 2018 with 10 moments that capture some historic highs of the 2017-18 sports calendar. Once again student/athletes from Millington Central High School, Brighton High, Munford High and Tipton-Rosemark Academy rewrote the history book, set new records and performed in the zone. Let’s look back at these memories.

10. September 2017: TRA dedicates September to Lauren
The school colors of Tipton-Rosemark Academy might as well been purple and gold throughout the month of September.
The normal red, white and blue school colors took a backseat some days throughout the month to recognize Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and pay tribute to the late Lauren Moody.
The honoring of Moody kicked off in grand fashion the night of Sept. 8 when the Rebel Football team hosted Greenfield. Head Coach Colin Pinner helped to set up a Life Flight helicopter presentation of the game ball that night.
On hand were members of Lauren’s family. With a large gold ribbon trimmed in purple painted on the field, the Rebels dominated 37-0.
“This night is special,” Pinner said. “It’s all for Lauren and her classmates. Look at them, they love her and it shows.”
Pinner noted the TRA senior class gathering around the ribbon to take a picture in memory of Lauren.
The daughter of Joey and Dana, sister of JT and Matt Moody passed away Dec. 30, 2015 from cancer during her sophomore year. Leaving this earth after just 15 years, Lauren’s family and friends were left behind to grieve.

9. February 2018: Klutts heats up for 37 points
Before stepping into the District 15-2A Tournament, the Millington Trojans needed a piece of validation.
For weeks and the entire league schedule, Jewell Gates’ Trojans have come up on the short end of each decision against the likes of Haywood, Fayette-Ware, Covington, Ripley and Friday night’s opponent Bolivar Central.
In several of those games Millington either held the lead in the second half or went ahead by double digits before coming up short. So when the Trojans went ahead 45-24 in the first half, some of the faithful in the William Osteen Gymnasium were still somewhat nervous.
Despite seeing their 20-point advantage trimmed twice to single digits, the Trojans earned district win No. 1 outlasting the Bolivar Central Tigers 87-78.
“It felt good to get this win,” Millington guard Hunter Klutts said. “For the past two weeks against Covington and Haywood and Fayette-Ware, they would close the game out.”
The win was perfect timing for Millington seniors Mac Coulter, Coryante Threlkeld and Bryce Mattox. The Senior Night victory gave the trio an addition gift and fulfilled Gate’s pregame mission.
“We really needed the win in order to get as Coach Gates says, ‘Tournament ready,’” Mattox said. “We have to finish up strong.
“I feel like throughout my high school career, this is the most comfortable I’ve been with my team and myself,” he added. “I feel we have a chance to shock some people.”
Friday night’s shocker started with Mattox dictating the tempo from the point guard spot. Millington sent ahead 19-16 after one quarter locating teammate Hunter Klutts for couple of triples.
“I was feeling after they called that personal foul,” Klutts recalled. “After that first three went in, it was on.”
Klutts was on throughout the night scoring 37 points in the victory. He continued the hot shooting making a triple that made the tally 36-23.
Other Trojans contributing to the scoring barrage in the second quarter were Kaveyon Lewis, Faizon Fields, Taveon Collier, Jamerio Jones and Coulter.

8. April 12, 2018: Day for the Groom
MEMPHIS — The past two weeks have been productive for the Millington Trojans Baseball team.
Head Coach Zane Adams’ squad went on a five-game winning streak before taking on the one of the best teams in Tennessee and District 15-2A front runner the Covington Chargers.
The Chargers took care of business remaining unbeaten in league play by sweeping the Trojans earlier this week. But today presented Millington with a chance to rebound and get more positive lessons during the 2018 campaign.
The Trojans heated up late including a two-run homer from senior Josh Groom to prevail 15-2 over the Craigmont Chiefs at Craigmont Field.
“Going into the Covington games, they’re No. 2 in the state,” Adams said. “Games that you would like to go out there and clip them at least once. Mainly, I was looking for my guys to come out and do everything right — put the ball into play, make all the plays. Try to sneak by and get a win, we played good against them in both games.”
Prior to Covington, Millington racked up victories over Ridgeway, Craigmont, White Station and district foe Fayette-Ware. The pair of wins over the Wildcats gave the Trojans their first taste of success in District 15-2A play.

7. April 10, 2018: Mr. Davis steals 100th base
Last night against the White Station Spartans, Brighton Cardinal senior Eli Davis stole his 100th base of his prep career. Davis napped the bag in a victory helping Brighton improve to 20-2 on the season. Head Coach Michael Wickersham, Brighton High School and the Cardinal Baseball program wanted to salute Davis on his latest high school achievement. Davis has signed to play baseball for Arkansas State and is nominated for Gatorade Baseball Player of the Year for Tennessee. Davis was a finalist for Class 3A Mr. Baseball in May.

6. April 2, 2018: Brighton Baseball off to record 18-0 start
To say the Brighton Cardinals are off to a hot start in 2018 is an understatement.
Last night the Cardinals outlasted District 13-3A foe the Hardin County Tigers 2-0 to improve to 16-0 on the season. The victory over the Tigers on Cardinal Field set a new school record for Brighton.
Cardinal Skipper Michael Wickersham said the key to the record-breaking win was the performance of senior and Arkansas State signee Eli Davis.
“We’re 16-0, we’ve got some focus going on,” he said. “Tonight was not all about X’s and O’s. You’ve got to have Steves and Joes. We had a Joe on the mound tonight. Eli Davis pitched a two-hit shutout. That’s how we did it.”
All the offensive support Davis needed came in the first inning when fellow senior Cody Howard stroked a single to drive in Will Dunlap to make the score 1-0.
Davis was solid from the mound throughout the night going 7 innings. In the first inning Davis struck out a pair of Tigers looking. He recorded two more K’s in the second inning. The hurler had 11 strikeouts for the night.

5. February 16, 2018: Rebel Basketball earns a home Sub-State game
CORDOVA — Those closest to the Tipton-Rosemark Academy Basketball would acknowledged the team underachieved during the regular season.
The Rebels finished 8-6 in the West Region District I behind FACS, ECS, USJ and Sacred Heart. So entering the 2018 Division II-A West Region Tournament this week, TRA had to start on the road if they were going to reach the tournament site at ECS.
The Rebels pulled off a pair of away victories beating the St. George’s Gryphons and FACS Crusaders. TRA’s reward was a Friday night Semifinal showdown against the USJ Bruins in the ECS Gymnasium.
TRA entered the contest with the simple game plan that helped them reach this point — intense defense. The formula of pressuring the ball with guards Tysen Banks, Andrew Anderson, Carter Weakley, Howard Grey and Patrick Green worked outlasting the Bruins 41-30.
The Rebels advanced to the championship game and have earned a Sub-State game to finally return home.
“First of all, we had to change the culture at Tipton-Rosemark and have these guys buy in,” TRA Head Coach Cedric Anderson said. “Not only buy in but understand every individual’s role is. They’ve got to the point where they accept their role. And then we got the environment changed to where it’s defense first opposed to offense. I told them it’s playoff time and it’s time to do it.”

4. May 22-24, 2018: Rebels unite to reach baseball title game
MURFREESBORO – Since taking over the Tipton-Rosemark Academy Baseball program 11 years ago, Brad Smith expects his team last game to be played at Middle Tennessee State every season.
TRA has reached the Division II-A State Baseball tournament in 2009, 2012 and 2014 playing for the championship in ’09 and ’14. When the calendar recently turned to May 2018, not too many gave this year’s Rebels a chance to be playing in the final contest for Division II-A.
But there they were last Thursday. The squad of blondes was unbeaten in the State Tournament coming into the championship against the Christian Academy of Knoxville Warriors. CAK was able to overwhelm TRA 10-0 to force a winner-take-all final game later that day.
The Warriors jumped out 5-0 after two innings. The Rebels rallied including a big hit from senior Corey Mitson to deadlock the game at 5-5. Freshman left-hander pitcher Zach Seward kept the Warriors off balance giving TRA a chance.
But CAK earned a run in the top of the seventh inning to win the 2018 Division II-A State Baseball title.
“This group I have here deserves to be State champions,” Smith said. “We just didn’t get it done today. I knew what we were capable of, a State Tournament run.
“We were a four seed and I know we weren’t supposed to be here,” he continued. “I expected us to be here. I always expect that. Sometimes the ball has to fall your way. And on top of that you have to play good baseball when you get here. We did that for the most part.”
The Rebels played good baseball since the beginning of May as the fourth seed out of the West Region. TRA beat Goodpasture 8-5 to earn a spot in the Sectional Series at Knoxville Webb. The Rebels dropped the first game to Webb 7-1. Then TRA blasted them 13-3 to set up a decisive third game. The Rebels outlasted Knoxville Webb 6-3 to reach State.
TRA entered the Division II-A State Tournament with a record of 28-15. Meanwhile CAK was 30-11, Christ Presbyterian Academy 32-7 and University School of Jackson 31-2.
TRA finally reached the 30-win mark beating CPA 7-3 and CAK 3-1 in the Quarterfinals and Semifinals.

3. November 2017: Cardinals historic flight conclude in Beech
HENDERSONVILLE — The 27 seniors on the 2017 Brighton Cardinals roster were vital to the team’s historic playoff run.
And maybe the heart and soul of that class are quarterback Malik Jackson and running back Lance West. The duo was crucial in the previous week’s upset 34-31 win at Henry County in the Quarterfinals. The victory allowed the Cardinals to advance to the school’s first State Semifinals.
Friday night Brighton made the journey to Hendersonville for the Class 5A Semifinals against the unbeaten Beech Buccaneers. The tough defense of the Bucs set the tempo early and sent Brighton’s backfield of West and Jackson to the sideline.
West had a noticeable limp and running was labored. Jackson suffered a huge hit knocking his helmet off in the first quarter. Despite the setbacks the Cardinals pushed Beech, but the Bucs were able to secure a 21-3 victory and trip to this week’s Class 5A State championship game in Cookeville to play Knoxville Catholic.
“It had to stop soon or later,” Brighton Head Coach Robin Jacobs said. “Oh man, there defense is outstanding. Everywhere we went, they had a guy. They played really well. You can’t say anything bad about them. They earned this game.
“We had opportunities a couple of times and they turned us back,” he continued. “Toward the goal line on fourth and one down there, we thought we could get that and we didn’t get that either. We did all we could to try to get in. They’re really good on defense. They’re rock solid. Congratulations to Beech.”

2. May 15, 2018: Lady Rebels clinch spot in State Softball Tournament
For the first time since 2014, the Tipton-Rosemark Academy Lady Rebels are heading back to Murfreesboro.
With a 5-3 and 4-2 sweep of The King’s Academy Lady Lions, TRA earned a spot in the final four of the Division II-A State Softball Tournament beginning May 22.
“I’m super excited right now,” Lady Rebels Head Coach Johnie Sanfratello said. “I’m so happy for the girls that they get a chance to experience this. They have worked so hard for this.”
The Lady Lions arrived from Knoxville Tuesday for the Sectional Series, best two out of three. The first game began at 5 p.m. with Lady Rebel Charli Rice on the rubber.
King’s Academy jumped out 1-0 in the first inning after just two batters. TRA settled down and escaped the opening inning down by one run.
“We didn’t get down,” Sanfratello said. “We had plenty of opportunities to roll over but we didn’t. We just kept playing. We made mistakes but the girls never gave up.”

1. October 9, 2017: Lady Trojan Volleyball wins first Region championship
No Millington Lady Trojan Volleyball team has ever had the title of Region champions.
Now the 2017 edition have reached a new plateau celebrated with hundreds in Black and Gold tonight in the William Osteen Gymnasium. Led by Head Coach Whitney Horton, Millington claimed the 2017 Region 8-2A Volleyball Tournament title with a 25-23, 25-15 and 25-8 victory over the Ripley Lady Tigers.
“It feels really good to be the first team to get to Regionals and win,” Millington senior TZ House said. “That’s amazing.”
House and fellow seniors Addison Coulter, Olivia Ballard, and All-Tournament Lily Morton and Region Tournament MVP Paige Hall were sophomores on the first Millington team to reach the Regional finals in 2015.
Although that squad earned the school’s first District 15-2A title and berth in the Regional finals, the 2015 team was beaten by Covington in Regionals and had to travel for Sub-State.

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