Over the past few decades, Tennessee high school girls basketball has become a fixture on the national scene in terms of national championships and being competitive on the national scale. This year was no different as Riverdale High School (Murfreesboro, TN) held onto the top spot in the USA Today and MaxPreps polls for the entire second half of the season and taking claim as National Champions in both of the polls. In my opinion, the level of play that Riverdale, in addition to Blackman, Bradley Central, Memphis Central and Oakland, have sustained over the years has raised the level of girls basketball throughout the state into what it is today.
The Tennessee State Tournament started last Wednesday and ended on Saturday with South Greene (Single A), Upperman (Double A), and Riverdale (Triple A) all winning state championships. The tournament showcased what Tennessee girls basketball was about with multiple overtime games, some big-time clutch shots, and a few bad calls by the referees.
With that being said, this recap will breakdown what took place in the Double A portion of the Tennessee state tournament noting some highlight games and standouts from the tournament.
Upperman High School (Baxter, TN) - STATE CHAMPIONS
Upperman has been a regular at the state tournament, but had never won it prior to this year. Coach Dana McWilliams is known across the state as one of the top coaches in the state, and finally came through with her first state championship this year. Upperman is a talented team that is led by AA Miss Basketball winner Akira Levy. The Western Kentucky commit went for 31 points, 7 rebounds, and 6 assist in the state championship. Levy also had 19 points and in the quarterfinals and 28 points in the semifinals on her way to earning MVP honors. Abby Greenwood contributed her share as she sliced-and-diced her way to the basket on multiple occasions. Unsigned shooter, Gracie Maynord, had her biggest moment in the quarterfinal knocking in three huge 3-pointers late in the game.
Pearl Cohn High School (Nashville, TN) - STATE RUNNER-UP
Pearl Cohn was the toughest match-up for Upperman in the state tournament as the two teams went to double overtime to settle the state championship. The Lady Firebirds have some outstanding athletes and players. Troy signee, Janiah Sandifer, had the most consistent output in the three games leading her team from the point guard spot on multiple occasions and leading the team in scoring. I think it is safe to say the Troy is getting a very good player in Sandifer. Pearl Cohn had maybe the smallest player in the state tournament in Shawnta Shaw, but don't let her size fool you. Shaw can blow by defenders with her explosiveness and quickness, and shoots the ball really well which makes her an intriguing player. Shaw is very similar to that of Morgan William at Mississippi State. Pearl Cohn also had an impressive prospect in sophomore Yaubyron Chambers. The power forward was a big time athlete with a nice frame that understood the game.
Other notable players from the state tournament:
Keeley Carter - 2020, 5'8 G - Macon County High School (Lafayette, TN)
Cheyenne Cunningham - 2017, 5'7 G - South Side (Jackson, TN)
London Fairs - 2020, 5'8 G - East Nashville (Nashville, TN)
Deja Graves - 2018, 6'3 C - Westview High School (Martin, TN)
Qua Hines - 2017, 5'8 G - Gatlinburg-Pittman High School (Gatlinburg, TN)
Shelby Moore - 2020, 5'6 G - Gatlinburg-Pittman High School (Gatlinburg, TN)
Keke McKinney - 2017, 6'1 F - Fulton High School (Knoxville, TN)
Quanardra Miller - 2019, 5'3 G - South Side High School (Jackson, TN)
Erica Haynes-Overton - 2017, 5'8 G - East Nashville (Nashville, TN)