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Purple Tigers are No. 2
Jan 09, 2013 12:00 am
Watertown boys rank high in first AP poll
By Andy Reed
Watertown, once known as a football school, is ranked second in the season's inaugural Associated Press Class A boys' basketball poll released late Monday afternoon.
The Purple Tigers, who will carry a 14-1 record to Pickett County tonight, accumulated 106 points in a vote of 17 AP members from across the state.
"Long ways to go in January," Watertown coach Matt Bradshaw said upon learning of the Tigers' ranking following practice Monday. "It's a good honor. We've got a lot of games, a lot of basketball to be played.
"If we're in that final 1-2 game [for the state championship in March], that'd be great."
Mt. Pleasant, at 12-0, is the runaway No. 1 with 163 points, including 15 first-place votes. But on the Tigers' heels are No. 3 Columbia Academy [13-2] with 102 points and No. 4 Wartburg [11-3] with 99.
No. 5 Trinity Christian [10-1] collected one of the two remaining first-place votes and 91 points. Booker T. Washington [7-3] is the only Class A team from loaded Memphis in the poll with 82 points.
Clay County [12-3], the only team in Watertown's Region 4-A or in the Chattanooga area for the sectional the Purple Tigers would have to face to reach their first State Tournament to be ranked in the top 14, is seventh with 57 points.
Middle Tennessee Christian, coached by Lebanon native [and former Friendship Christian player and coach] Jason Piercey, is eighth with 40 points with a 10-4 record. Cloudland [9-4] is ninth with 38 points and Union City [11-5], which got the final first-place vote and 33 points, 10th.
Greenfield, with 30 points, Richland  and Humboldt  round out the top 12.
"Seems to be a lot of parity this year," Bradshaw said. "I don't know if you have a dominant team this year in single-A."
A year ago, Friendship Christian was ranked eighth in the first poll. The Commanders climbed to No. 3 by February, behind Booker T. Washington and Perry County. Those three finished in that order in the final polls to finish the season.
Lake County used a Hail Mary buzzer beater to stun BT Washington in the State quarterfinals before losing to Perry County in the semifinals. Friendship knocked off Perry County for the Commanders' first championship.
This is the highest a Watertown team has been ranked in a statewide poll in recent memory. The Tigers drew votes in the first poll last year and later upset Friendship in the District 8-A final for their first district championship in 77 seasons.
In fact, last year's No. 3 was believed to be the highest a Friendship boys team had ever been ranked.
The Tigers, whose only loss was a blowout to Cheatham County [tied with DeKalb County at No. 11 in the AA poll, just one point behind No. 10 East Nashville], are coming off a 10-point win at Friendship last Friday.
"Our biggest thing is to keep focused," said Bradshaw, who had some ranked teams during seven seasons at Friendship before coming to Watertown in 2010. "The only thing we can control is ourselves."
Watertown is led by junior wing Ty Jobe, who averages 15 points per game. Point guard Macieo Gaines chips in at 14 points and shooting guard Josiah Smith 11. Senior George Theragood may have changed the dynamic of the team somewhat last month when he transferred in from Brentwood Academy, giving the Tigers a 6-foot-5 muscle presence inside, mostly off the bench, over the last five games. Dylan Speck is also tall, but is an accurate outside shooter at between 6-7 points per game, mostly off the bench.
"We're very guard-oriented," Bradshaw said. "That's why we press and do what we do, try to speed the game up and used our speed when we can.
"We do a good job of spreading the basketball around. We're team-oriented. That's the way we like it."