Tennessee well represented in boys' basketball
Originally posted in knoxnews.com
Tennessee Thunder coach Shawn Harris certainly knows his way around East Tennessee.
Harris, whose Nashville-based Thunder basketball team is in Knoxville for the AAU Junior Olympic Games, is a 1993 graduate of Clinton High School.
The Thunder opened play Tuesday in the 15-under division with a resounding 69-33 win over New Jersey at the Christenberry Recreation Center.
Lenoir City's Tyler Hood and Nashville Antioch's Coty Clark scored 19 each to pace the Thunder.
Harris, in his 12th year as a coach involved in AAU, said his involvement in the sport is a labor of love.
"The reason I do this is to help the kids I don't have any kids of my own playing," said Harris. If there's anything I can do to help them get a scholarship, I'll do it."
The Thunder has several area players on its roster in addition to Hood, including Dwight Tarwater of Webb and Micah Ballard of William Blount.
Ballard, the son of former area coach Stan Ballard who passed away last year, has had some health scares of late.
"Micah would just be sitting in class or resting and pass out," explained Harris, who said tests on the player have been inconclusive.
Another team loaded with area talent in the tournament is the Tennessee Travelers. The Travelers feature Blount County players Richard Hutchens, Grant Reynolds, Cameron Langley and Reginald Garrett along with Knoxville's Linwood Holloway, Devin Jackson and Jalen Steele.
Play in the nine-team tournament continues through Saturday with the championship at 3 p.m.
The Commish: Dave Allen, the basketball commissioner for the AAU tournament in Knoxville, has a busy summer docket.
Allen, from Yakima, Wash., will go home for one day next week before flying to another AAU tournament in Orlando, Fla.
"My job is to represent AAU," said Allen. "This summer I will have been to Reno, Sacramento, Knoxville and Orlando. I started with AAU as an official in 1975 and I've been a commissioner for six years."
Hurdles King and Queen: There's little doubt that West's Jackie Coward and Copperas Cove (Texas) standout Robert Griffin are the darlings of the AAU track and field competition at Tom Black Track.
Both Coward and Griffin just happen to be the best high school hurdlers in the country.
Coward broke the AAU record in the 400 meters hurdles Monday with a first-place time of 57.95 seconds, erasing the mark of 58.7 set in 1980 by Marlene Harmon of California. Tuesday, Coward had the fastest clocking (13.57) in the 100 hurdles and was just off the AAU standard of 13.38 set in 2006.
Griffin was equally impressive on the boys side.
He shattered the 400 hurdles mark Monday, crossing the finish line in an AAU record time of 50.07. That erased the 1987 mark (50.97) of Ralph Carrington by almost a second.
Griffin easily was the fastest qualifier Tuesday in the 110 hurdles with a time of 13.77, but was well off the national record as he banged several hurdles down the stretch.
Coward and Griffin will run in the 400 hurdles finals today at 2:15 and then compete in the 100/110 hurdles finals at 10:15 a.m. Thursday.
One Tough Kid: Don't accuse 12-year-old Kyshia Prieto of Kansas of having a glass jaw. Prieto, who runs in the 80 hurdles today, broke her jaw playing basketball three weeks ago and continued to train for the AAU Junior Olympic Games.
Prieto, who obviously has a high tolerance for pain, said, "I trained way too hard to not come to the AAU Junior Olympic Games. My jaw is broken but I am still here."