By now, everyone has heard about the two Tennessee girls’ basketball teams who both tried to lose. But lost in the hand-wringing over such obvious tanking (ahem) is the fact that these teams were trying to lose because they really, really didn’t want to play one of the best teams in the country so soon in the Tennessee state playoffs.
That team is Blackman High School in Murfreesboro, Tenn. Here’s a look at the team that scared two other teams into tanking.
Nickname: Lady Blaze.
Record: 26-2 after Monday night’s 66-28 win over Lincoln County in the first round of the Tennessee Region 4-AAA tournament. Blackman’s two losses have come to Potter’s House Christian (No. 21 nationally in the latest USA Today poll) and Mater Dei (No. 2 in the latest USA Today poll). Against Siegel on Dec. 9, the Lady Blaze allowed just nine points total in a 48-point win.
Top players: Senior guard Jamesha “MeMe” Jackson will play college basketball at Tennessee. She’s ranked as the nation’s No. 35 overall player and the No. 7 wing by ESPNW.com. Crystal Dangerfield, meanwhile, is ranked as the nation’s No. 3 junior and No. 1 junior point guard by ESPNW.com and has given an oral commitment to U-Conn. after winning Gatorade Player of the Year honors as a sophomore in 2013-14. Senior center Alex Johnson will play for Middle Tennessee State, turning down offers from Ole Miss and Georgia Tech, among others. All three players have been nominated for Miss Tennessee AAA Basketball honors.
Last season: Blackman won the Tennessee state title in 2014 and was crowned national champion by MaxPreps, ESPN and USA Today.