For basketball fans, it’s the most wonderful time of the year.
The postseason officially gets underway Thursday afternoon for local high school basketball teams, with the Oneida girls and Scott High boys playing elimination games. Both teams are at home, and both will tip off at 5:30 p.m.
Oneida will host Oakdale. Admission is $5.
Scott High will host Austin-East. Admission is $7.
The Lady Indians are the No. 1 seed in District 3-A and have been dominant throughout the season, winning every district game by an average of 29 points. Oneida enters Thursday’s game against Oakdale with a record of 17-6.
The Eagles, coached by Fred Snow, enter as the No. 8 seed in the district, and have a record of 5-15.
Oakdale has already kept its season alive once, defeating No. 9 Rockwood in a play-in game on Wednesday, 44-10.
The two games between the teams this season haven’t been close. Oneida defeated Oakdale by 33 points on the road on Jan. 8, and by 31 points at home on Feb. 9.
Scott and Austin-East, meanwhile, will likely present a much closer game. The Highlanders enter as the No. 4 seed in District 4-AA, while Austin-East is the No. 5 seed. The winner will advance to face top-seeded Kingston on Friday.
Scott High enters with a record of 14-8, and has won seven in a row. Austin-East enters with a record of 5-12 but has picked up steam as the season has progressed. The Roadrunners twice defeated Loudon, the District 5-AA champion, in the closing weeks of the regular season.
The first time the two teams played, in East Knoxville on Jan. 21, Scott High jumped out to a 25-4 lead and cruised to a 73-59 win.
But Austin-East was without Jaquarius Sanders in that game. When the two teams met again in Huntsville on Feb. 5, Sanders scored 18 points and helped his team surge back from a large deficit to force overtime.
Down by as much as 18 points in the third quarter, Austin-East clawed back to take the lead twice late in the game. Each time, Scott High’s Trey Morrow hit a key jumper to tie the game, and the junior Mr. Basketball finalist then blocked a shot on A-E’s final possession to force overtime. The Highlanders jumped out to an 11-point lead in overtime before withstanding a couple of 3-point shots by the Roadrunners to pick up a 69-64 win.
If Oneida wins, the Lady Indians will host the Harriman-Midway winner at 6:30 p.m. Saturday evening. If Scott High wins, the Highlanders will travel to Kingston at 7 p.m. Friday evening.
There are no attendance restrictions for Thursday’s games, though there will be capacity limits.