It’s still early in the season, but here’s a look at the initial Nooga Nine high school basketball rankings:
- 1. Howard (4-0)
The Hustlin’ Tigers captured a pair of season-opening wins over Ridgeland (Ga.) and Dade County (Ga.), and they held on for a 54-51 overtime victory over No. 2 Brainerd last Friday. Howard will take on No. 3 Tyner on Friday.
- 2. Brainerd (4-3)
Brainerd bounced back from Friday’s loss to the Tigers on Tuesday, rolling to a 73-51 victory at Red Bank. 6-7 junior Orlando Moore’s 29-point, 11-rebound performance propelled the Panthers to the lopsided victory, but head coach Robert High’s team still hasn’t hit its stride. Brainerd returns to action with Saturday’s trip to Knoxville to face Austin-East.
- 3. Cleveland (4-0)
The unbeaten Blue Raiders built on last Friday’s 63-61 win over rival Bradley Central with a decisive victory over future 5-AAA foe East Hamilton. Cleveland eclipsed the 80-point mark for the second time this season in Tuesday’s win over the Hurricanes. The Blue Raiders play at McMinn County on Friday.
- 4. Tyner (4-2)
The Rams suffered consecutive losses to open the season at the Bojangles Thanksgiving Classic in Murfreesboro, but have since captured four straight wins over Hixson, Tullahoma, East Ridge and McCallie. Tyner takes on No. 1 Howard on Friday.
5. Notre Dame (5-1)
The Fighting Irish suffered its first setback of the season in Tuesday’s District 7-AA opener against Bledsoe County. Notre Dame strung together five straight wins to start the season, but was dealt a 57-55 defeat by the Warriors. The Irish square off against No. 8 McCallie on Thursday.
- 6. Ooltewah (4-1)
The Owls stumbled out of the gates, suffering a season-opening loss to East Ridge, but they’ve captured four straight double-digit victories in the past two weeks, including a 69-51 win over Rhea County in Tuesday’s District 5-AAA opener. Ooltewah will learn quite a bit about itself in the next nine days, though, when it takes on league foes Walker Valley, Bradley Central and Cleveland.
- 7. Bradley Central (2-2)
The Bears’ first three games this season were decided by less than four points. That wasn’t the caase Tuesday, though, as Bradley Central exploded in an 81-21 win over Soddy-Daisy to get to .500 in District 5-AAA play. The Bears will play five road games in the span on 11 days, starting with Friday’s contest at White County.
8. McCallie (1-3)
The Blue Tornado’s season so far has been a bit of a roller coaster ride. McCallie’s only win this season, a 72-43 rout over Signal Mountain, was sandwiched in between a pair of double-digit defeats to Stone Memorial and Knoxville Webb. Tuesday’s four-point loss to No. 4 Tyner dropped the Blue Tornado to 1-3 heading into Thursday’s home game against No. 5 Notre Dame.
- 9. Baylor (1-0)
The Red Raiders haven’t yet built a big body of work, but they were impressive in last Saturday’s season-opening win at Lancaster Christian Academy. MTSU commit Reggie Upshaw scored 20 points in the 76-66 victory, and it seems the two-sport star has overcome the leg injury that kept him sidelined for some of football season. The Red Raiders return to action Saturday when they host Franklin Road Academy.