By Ken Lay
When Lee Henson looks at his 2017-2017 roster, he sees several new names. That, however, doesn’t mean that expectations have changed for the Karns High School boys basketball team.
“Like every year, we should be in the running for the district championship,” said Henson, who is in his 17th season as head coach at his alma mater.
Henson, who played for Karns during his high school days, has hopes of capturing the District 3-AAA Championship. He knows, however, that that won’t be an easy task to accomplish in 2017-2018.
“Our district, top to bottom, is pretty solid,” Henson said. “We only lost Gibbs [to re-alignment] and we have some tough teams. “On paper, it looks to be a race between Oak Ridge, Powell and us.
“I think Clinton will be pretty good because they’re really athletic. But nothing is going to be easy. You have to be ready to play every night.”
Karns finished second in District 3-AAA last season as Oak Ridge dominated the league and captured the district tournament in impressive fashion. The Wildcats beat Powell to win the district tournament.
Top returners for the Beavers include: KJ Hawkins (senior, point guard); Thomas Harper (junior, guard) and Teahzjawon Hodge-Harper (junior, guard/forward).
Karns has a talented crop of newcomers. Those varsity rookies must grow up fast and be ready to contribute early if the Beavers are going to have a realistic shot at winning a district title.
Those newcomers include: Jordan Gillespie (junior, guard); Tre Hawkins (sophomore, point guard); Tommy Sweat (a freshman wing player who will likely start); Caleb Keeter (junior, guard/forward); Dalton Greer (sophomore, guard/forward); Morgan Jones (senior, guard/forward); Mark Vance (junior, center) and Traven Jackson (sophomore, center).
The Beavers unofficially opened their season with a 34-12 victory over Concord Christian in the Tennova Tip-off Classic at Thompson-Boling Arena on Monday, Nov. 6.
In other games last Monday:
Catholic 17, Austin-East 15: Catholic had a balanced attack in a win over the Roadrunners. The Irish, who reached the Class AA State Championship Game in March, dressed only seven players as most of their team was still competing in the Class 5A Football Playoffs.
Senior center Brock Jancek led Catholic with six points. Walt Pickering added five and Ryan MacDonald finished with two for the Irish, will compete in District 4-AAA this season.
Wesley Allen and Trey West each scored five points for the Roadrunners.
King’s Academy 31, Hardin Valley Academy 28: Eloi Nimako hit a 3-point shot as time expired to lift the Lions past the Hawks, who have 11 returners, including nine seniors back from last year’s team, which made the Region 2-AAA Tournament.
Berean Christian 22, Tennessee School for the Deaf 7: Conner Haskell scored five points and Dalton Miller added four to propel the Eagles past the Vikings, who got two points apiece from Malcolm Williamson, Jeremiah Staggs and Ri Carlyon.
Carter 22, Christian Academy of Knoxville 21: The Hornets erased a 13-8 deficit and edged the Warriors.
Senior Adam Hurd led Carter with a game-high nine points. Shawn Page and Parker Haun each had four points as Aaron Carter won his coaching debut at Carter.
In Wednesday’s games: Bearden downed Gibbs 24-5; Webb beat Powell 25-18; West edged Central 30-29 and Halls defeated South Doyle 19-15.