Note: This story was last updated at 9:57 p.m.
After days of delays because of winter weather, the Oak Ridge boys’ basketball team advanced to the regional semifinals on Wednesday, while the girls were eliminated from the playoffs. The Wildcats walloped Lenoir City 81-37, while the Lady Wildcats lost to Farragut 57-17.
Oak Ridge, which was the number one seed from District 3, will move on to play either Heritage or Halls in the Region 2 semifinals, although it’s not clear when because of the weather. The semifinal game could be played as early as Friday or as late as Sunday.
Wednesday’s game at home at Wildcat Arena was the only boys’ game in Region 2. Oak Ridge hasn’t played since Valentine’s Day, or 11 days, mostly because of the weather.
Oak Ridge (27-2) was led by sophomore Tee Higgins, who had 18 points, including three dunks and two three-pointers. Junior Geevantay Gee scored 15, junior Javien Johnson had 14, and sophomore Tajion Jones again came off the bench to hit three three-pointers, adding 13 points for the Wildcats.
Lenoir City (17-14) was led by senior Dylan Brewster, who scored 18. But no other Panther scored more than seven.
Oak Ridge Coach Aaron Green said he thought the snow and the layoff, going days without playing a game, hurt the Panthers, the number four seed in District 4.
“I thought they got fatigued early,” Green said.
He said the Wildcats have depth and “stayed sharp” through the snow days.
Still, “I was a nervous wreck before the game,” Green said. “As a coach, you like routine.”
But the last week-and-a-half and repeated weather delays have been anything but routine. Among other things, teams didn’t complete district tournament games. Oak Ridge had been scheduled to play Karns, the number two seed in District 3, for the district championship last week, but that game was canceled due to weather.
“It’s been a complete debacle with the weather,” Green said.
He said the Wildcats essentially shut down the Panthers defensively on Wednesday. The Wildcats had a number of blocks and also forced turnovers.
The young Lady Wildcats team, which has no seniors, finished the season 19-12. The Lady Admirals, the number two seed in District 4, are 22-8.
Broadcaster David Clary said Farragut looked very good on defense, and the Lady Wildcats, the number three seed in District 3, had turned the ball over 13 times by sometime in the third quarter. Oak Ridge also had few good looks on the other end of the court and struggled to score, Clary said.
The Anderson County Lady Mavericks (17-15) were also eliminated from the Region 2 tournament on Wednesday. Bearden (28-3) beat them 68-32. Bearden was the number one seed in District 4, while the Lady Mavericks were the number four seed in District 3.
The Halls-Heritage quarterfinal boys’ game is scheduled for Thursday in Maryville, although it’s not clear if it might be delayed again because of weather. The National Weather Service in Morristown was forecasting heavy snow across the region from Wednesday night through midday Thursday (several inches are possible), and snow had already started falling in Oak Ridge at around 8 p.m. Wednesday.
Oak Ridge beat Halls (12-15) twice during the regular season, but hasn’t played Heritage (22-11), a District 4 team. Halls is a shooting team, while Heritage is physical and slow-paced, Green said.
In other Region 2 boys’ games, Knoxville Central, the number four seed in District 3, will play at Bearden, the number one seed in District 4. And Maryville, the number three seed in District 4, will play at Karns.
See the Class AAA Region Basketball Tournament boys’ brackets here.
See the Class AAA Region Basketball Tournament girls’ brackets here.
More information will be added as it becomes available.