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Sports in 2020: The Banner's Year-in-Review (Part One)

Posted 12/29/20

At the end of each year, The Banner gives its readers a look back at the top sports stories from the previous 12 months. 2020 began as another typical year, but, as you’ll see in our …

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Sports in 2020: The Banner's Year-in-Review (Part One)


At the end of each year, The Banner gives its readers a look back at the top sports stories from the previous 12 months. 2020 began as another typical year, but, as you’ll see in our year-in-review, things took a dramatic turn in March when the COVID-19 pandemic shook the foundations of society here and around the world.

The pandemic brought an early end to basketball state championships and caused the complete cancellation of the baseball, softball, boys’ soccer and track seasons. The summer was full of uncertainty as football, golf, cross-country and girls’ soccer teams attempted to safely prepare for a season that may not come.

Ultimately, fall meant “football time in Tennessee,” although there was no shortage of last-minute scheduling changes and game cancellations due to the virus. Seasons were completed; champions were crowned.

Winter brought the athletes indoors for basketball, but also brought a surge in virus cases that has made the early part of the season touch-and-go. The year ends with new restrictions in place, but hope remains that teams will see their seasons to fruition in 2021.

January 7

Lady Wildcats Hand Coach Nelson 300th Career Win

McKENZIE — Four years ago Thursday night, Coach Chris Nelson captured career win No. 200 with a victory over Auburn-Montgomery. Noteworthy in the 70-53 win was the scoring of Shamon Pearson who hit nine three-pointers. That all-time program mark was tied earlier this season by Bethel freshman Ryann Roberts who hit nine three’s in Bethel’s 104-57 win over Oakland City.

Coach Nelson captured his 300th career win Thursday as the No. 15 Lady Wildcats beat visiting Stillman College 76-38. Coach Nelson is 300-142 in his 14 years at Bethel. It was Bethel’s fourth straight win and moved them to 12-4 overall and 2-1 in the SSAC. The Lady Tigers fell to 3-7 and 2-1.

January 14

McKenzie Sweeps Humboldt on Homecoming

McKENZIE (January 11) — McKenzie High School celebrated Homecoming Saturday night with an impressive sweep of Humboldt. The Lady Rebels pulled ahead in the second frame and shook off a third-quarter rally by the Lady Vikings to claim a 63-42 win. Looking to avenge last year’s state semifinal loss to the Vikings, the Rebels took a big first-half lead and held off a second-half Humboldt rally for a 76-61 victory.

Prior to the girls’ contest, the Homecoming Royalty was presented and senior Shelby Davis was crowned queen.

January 28

McKenzie Family Member to Play in Super Bowl

Following the December stabbing death of Summers’ family relation, Clayton Beathard, the Beathards are making news again. Brother, C.J. Beathard, in his third year with San Francisco 49ers, will play in Super Bowl LIV against the Kansas City Chiefs this Sunday.

Susan Williams Beathard, C.J.’s mother is a native of McKenzie. Beathard’s maternal grandparents are Cindy Summers and the late Jerry Connell of Dresden. Summers, a retired professor, still resides in McKenzie as does his great-uncle, Joel Summers.

February 4

McKenzie High School Honors 1960, 1963 Rebelettes for State Tournament Appearances

McKENZIE (January 28) — McKenzie High School paid homage Tuesday to the 1960 and 1963 Rebelettes basketball teams for their state tournament appearances with a pregame dinner and a special halftime recognition. Eleven players and one coach were able to attend.

Members of the teams and their families were invited to a dinner in the cafeteria catered by Mallard’s Restaurant. On display were team photos, state tournament box scores, yearbooks and trophies.

War Eagle Jeremiah Bryant Plays In Blue-Grey All-American Bowl

DALLAS (January 20) — West Carroll football standout Jeremiah Bryant displayed his skills and speed on the biggest stage in last month’s Blue-Grey All-American Bowl at AT&T Stadium, the home of the Dallas Cowboys.

The exhibition game was the final of four annual All-American Bowls hosted by Blue-Grey Football to help the best high school football players across the country receive exposure and increase college scholarship offers.

February 11

Bethel University Sets New Record in College Fishing

BAINBRIDGE, Ga. — The Bethel University Bass Cats set a new record in the sport of college Bass fishing by finishing first, second and third in the Fishing League Worldwide (FLW) Yeti Series held in Bainbridge, Georgia on Lake Seminole. No school has ever had three teams finish in the top three spots during a national fishing tournament.

February 18

McKenzie’s King is Class A Mr. Basketball Finalist

McKenzie High School basketball standout Lucas King is one of three finalists for Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association’s Class A Mr. Basketball.

February 25

Rebels Claim Title with Win over Central; War Eagles Earn Third over Huntingdon

McKENZIE (February 22) — The District 11A Boys Basketball Tournament concluded Saturday with championship and consolation contests at Bethel University’s Crisp Arena.

The McKenzie Rebels claimed the district crown with a 89-49 win over the Hollow Rock-Bruceton Central Tigers. Prior to that was the consolation game in which the West Carroll War Eagles earned third place with a thrilling, 61-58 overtime win over the Huntingdon Mustangs.

Fillies Claim Crown with Win over McKenzie; Lady War Eagles Earn Third over Clarksburg

McKENZIE (February 21) — The District 11A Girls Basketball Tournament concluded Friday with championship and consolation contests at Bethel University’s Crisp Arena.

The Huntingdon Fillies claimed the district title with a 51-28 win over the McKenzie Lady Rebels. Prior to that was the consolation game in which the West Carroll Lady War Eagles sealed third place with a 64-36 win over the Clarksburg Lady Rockets.

March 3

Rebels Trounce Trojans in Region Opener

McKENZIE (February 29) — The McKenzie Rebels dominated Saturday’s Region 6A Boys Basketball Tournament opener, defeating the Collinwood Trojans 82-45 at Bethel University’s Crisp Arena.

The win sets up a rubber match with West Carroll in Tuesday’s semifinal round at Wayne County High School in Waynseboro. The Rebels and War Eagles split during the regular season, and fans of both teams have been itching for a decisive rematch that had been expected to come in the district championship last week.

Lady Rebels Win Opener Over Wayne County Advance to Region Semis

McKENZIE (February 28) — The McKenzie Lady Rebels defeated the Wayne County Lady Wildcats 63-44 Friday at Bethel University’s Crisp Arena to open the Region 6A Girls Basketball Tournament.

With the win, they advanced to a semifinal contest against Loretto Monday at Wayne County High School in Waynesboro.

War Eagles Top Summertown in Region Opener

SUMMERTOWN (February 28) — The West Carroll War Eagles battled for a 56-50 road win over the Summertown Eagles Friday in the opening round of the Region 6A Boys Basketball Tournament.

Fillies Advance to Region Semis with 63-41 Win Over Collinwood

The Huntingdon Fillies advanced to the second round of the Region 6A Girls Basketball Tournament with a 63-41 win Friday over Collinwood at home. It was the 13th win in a row for the Fillies, who improved to 26-4 for the season and left the Fillies one win from a sectional berth and with a match-up against Summertown on Monday at Wayne County.

March 10

West Carroll State Bid Ends at Cross Plains

The West Carroll War Eagles traveled to Cross Plains Monday for a Class A Sectional contest against East Robertson. At the sound of the horn, the War Eagles fell short 50-43

With a win, the War Eagles would have earned a bid to the Class A state boys basketball tournament at The Murphy Center on the campus of Middle Tennessee State University Thursday, March 19 through Saturday, March 21.

War Eagles Eliminate Rebels to Secure Sectional Appearance

WAYNESBORO (March 3) — The McKenzie Rebels and West Carroll War Eagles met for the third time this season in Tuesday’s Region 6A Boys Basketball Semifinals at Wayne County High School. After a season split, the two teams have been itching for a decisive rematch, and it couldn’t have come at a more dramatic moment.

Regardless of the outcome, the game would mean the end of an impressive season for one team and a guaranteed Sectional appearance for the other.

The Rebels came out of the gate strong and controlled the opening frame, but the War Eagles battled back to tie it in the second. McKenzie took a two-point halftime lead with two Lucas King free throws after the buzzer. West Carroll edged out a back-and-forth third to trail by just a point at the start of the fourth. There were three ties in the first half of the frame before the War Eagles managed to create a little bit of breathing room. The Rebels cut the deficit to four points with 30 seconds to play, but West Carroll hit their free throws to claim a 55-48 victory.

Fillies Advance to State with Come-From-Behind Win Over Richland

LYNNVILLE (March 7) — For the second time in a week, the Huntingdon Fillies faced at least an eight-point deficit and elimination, and for the second time, the Fillies rallied in the second half for the win. Saturday night, the Fillies defeated Richland 66-59 to advance to the state tournament for the third time in the last four seasons. On Monday night at Wayne County in the semifinals of the region tournament the Fillies faced a nine-point deficit with Summertown in the third quarter, but rallied to win 50-48 to advance to the region championship game.

Lady Rebels End Season with Loss to Loretto

WAYNESBORO (March 2) — The McKenzie Lady Rebels saw their season come to an end Monday with a 77-41 loss to the Loretto Lady Mustangs in the Region 6A Girls Basketball Semifinals at Wayne County High School.

March 17

Huntingdon Fillies Conclude Season With Quarterfinal Loss to Clarkrange

MURFREESBORO (March 12) — The Huntingdon Fillies ended their season Thursday with an 80-36 loss to Clarkrange in the opening round of the TSSAA Class A State Girls Basketball Tournament.

BlueCross Basketball Championships Postponed Due to Pandemic

MURFREESBORO (March 12) — The TSSAA made the following announcement Thursday in response to the COVID-19 pandemic:

Following the conclusion of the girls’ state basketball tournament quarterfinal round today, we are suspending the remainder of the girls’ state tournament and next week’s boys’ state tournament. Whether we will be able to reschedule these events will depend on the length of the suspension and the availability of facilities.

March 31

Bethel’s Nelson Named NAIA Division I Women’s Basketball Coach of the Year

KANSAS CITY, Mo. ­— Coach Chris Nelson, in his 14th season, was named the NAIA Division I Women’s Basketball Coach of the Year after finishing the season at 29-4 (.879). The Wildcats finished the season qualifying for the 2020 championship for the 11th time and were ranked at No. 6 in the final Coaches’ Top 25. Coach Nelson led his team to the Southern States Athletic Conference (SSAC) tournament championship with a 65-59 win over Martin Methodist. Bethel also won the SSAC regular season title with a 15-1 mark. Bethel finished the season with a 21 game winning streak which is the second longest in program history. The Lady Cats would have been making their eighth straight appearance in the national tournament.

April 21

TSSAA Cancels Remaining Events for 2019-20

NASHVILLE (April 15) — The Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association (TSSAA) announced Wednesday that, due to the Governor’s announcement of school closure for the remainder of the school year, all events for 2019-20, including all spring sports and the postponed BlueCross Basketball Championships, are canceled.

April 28

Derek Carr Joins Milan Football Staff

McKenzie alum Derek Carr is the new passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Milan High School.

Carr was a two-year starting quarterback for the Rebels, graduating in 2008. He attended the University of Tennessee at Martin and was a four-year member of the Skyhawk football team.

May 26

Davis, Horton Awarded Inaugural Barbara Boyd Memorial Scholarship

McKENZIE (May 15) — During Friday’s Awards Day at McKenzie High School, senior basketball players Shelby Davis and Lane Horton were awarded the inaugural Barbara Boyd Rebel Basketball Memorial Scholarship. The award is named for the late Barbara Boyd, a former McKenzie basketball player and teacher who died in January 2019. Davis is Boyd’s granddaughter.


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