Of the eight teams in the Class AA Girls State Tournament, Macon County is as familiar with Middle Tennessee State University’s Murphy Center as any of the participants.

However, South Greene and Westview come in a close second.

The second-ranked Tigerettes will embark on their quest to capture the program’s first state championship when they face Covington on Wednesday morning at 10 a.m. in Murphy Center.

“At first, it’s very overwhelming,” Macon County junior forward McKaylee Mix said of being in the state environment. “After you start playing and get in your groove, it’s what you dream of. It’s Christmas morning.”

The Tigerettes (30-5) are in the state for the third consecutive season.

“It’s unbelievable,” Macon County junior guard Keeley Carter said. “To be able to go three years in a row … we’ll see what the third year has in store. We are hoping for big things.”

After a first-round loss to eventual state runner-up Pearl-Cohn in 2017, the Tigerettes stayed as long as any team could last season. Macon County lost in the championship game, an overtime setback to Upperman in a contest that was decided by Miss Basketball Akira Levy’s basket at the buzzer.

“Me and K.K. (Mix) were talking about it … it’s like we weren’t there,” Macon County sophomore point guard Jalynn Gregory said. “It’s like we were sitting there watching the game. It wasn’t like we were playing in it.

“It makes us want to come back and want to win it even more. We have that feeling in us. We want it. We were disappointed when we did lose. Having played (Upperman) so many times, we wish we would have finished it out, but it motivates us to win it.”

However, the Tigerettes haven’t dwelt on getting back to the state level.

“We are very superstitious,” Mix said. “It’s strictly nothing about (the state tournament). We can say that we hope to get there, but we don’t say anything other than that.”

Two-time defending state champion Upperman isn’t back to defend its title, having been eliminated due to a one-point loss to DeKalb County in the Region 4-AA Tournament semifinal round.

DeKalb County – which Macon County has defeated three times this season (most recently in last Wednesday’s Region 4-AA championship game, by a 51-27 margin) – is among the field after traveling to McMinn Central to win its sectional contest.

DeKalb County is in the state tournament for the first time since 1965.

Two of the teams that Macon County played last year return, Cheatham County (28-3) and Westview (29-5).

Macon County rolled to a 75-55 win over Cheatham County in the two teams’ state opener last season and followed that up with a 37-32 win over Westview in the semifinals.

The Tigerettes enter the tournament with a 13-game winning streak.

“We’ve wanted that gold ball all year,” Macon County head coach Larry White said. “We have taken the steps to get back to do it.”

Covington (28-5) has won 18 consecutive games.

Sophomore guard Kalynn Howard leads the Lady Chargers offensively, averaging 18.7 points per game.

Classmate Felia Fayne – a 5-foot-11 forward – averages 10 points and 6.4 rebounds per game.

A third sophomore – 5-foot-9 forward DaNiyasia Robinson – is averaging 7.6 points and 5.1 rebounds per game, but no other Covington players average more than 5 points per contest.

“The one thing I will be concerned about is the size factor,” White said. “We have to do a really good job of blocking out.”

The Lady Chargers knocked off fourth-ranked Jackson South Side, 53-43, in their sectional contest on Saturday evening.

Covington has won four of its last five postseason contests by 10 points or fewer.

Conversely, the Tigerettes have won their six postseason games by an average of 23 points per outing, with none of those contests being closer than 14 points.

Covington is led by sixth-year head coach Katrisha Glass, who has compiled a 129-60 record, three district titles, three regional titles and two state tournament appearances.

Macon County has played four games at the state tournament over the last two seasons, and the Tigerettes also attended summer camp at MTSU.

“Some teams coming in, they maybe aren’t used to it,” Gregory said. “We played three games there and played camp there. It’s almost like a second home to us.”

White added, “It helps immensely. It’s why we go to camp there. (MTSU women’s head basketball coach) Rick Insell and I are good friends. We have a special thing at Middle Tennessee. They take care of us real good.”

Seventh-ranked Westview – which is making its seventh consecutive state appearance – has played three games over the last two seasons.

Ninth-ranked South Greene won back-to-back state championships in Class A in 2016 and 2017 before missing the state tournament after moving up to Class AA last season.

South Greene has six state titles, with Marshall County having won four. Marshall County is back among the state field for the first time since winning the 2008 championship.

South Greene, Marshall County and Westview (the 1996 state champion) are the only three programs among the AA field that have won state championships.

Macon County is a three-time state runner-up – 2011, 2013 and 2018.

The two teams are playing the first game of the Division I portion of the state tournament, with the remaining Class AA quarterfinals, the Class AAA quarterfinals and the Class A quarterfinals to follow from Wednesday through Thursday.

“It’s different,” White said of the early tip-off. “Every day that we have missed school, we have practiced at 11 o’clock. I hope that helps us a little.”

The two programs actually played two seasons ago in the opening game of the Heritage Christmas Tournament in Maryville, with the Tigerettes overcoming an 18-point, halftime deficit for a 51-43 victory.

The winner of the Macon County/Covington clash will face the winner of Wednesday’s quarterfinal between fifth-ranked Cheatham County (28-3) and Grainger (30-6) in a semifinal contest that will be played on Friday morning at 10.

“We just need to stay focused and play people one game at a time,” White said.

Class AA State Tournament

Games to be played at Middle Tennessee State University’s Murphy Center

Wednesday’s quarterfinals

10 a.m.|Macon County (30-5) vs. Covington (28-5)

11:30 a.m.|Cheatham County (28-3) vs. Grainger (30-6)

1:15 p.m.|Marshall County (26-7) vs. DeKalb County (23-11)

2:30 p.m.|Westview (29-5) vs. South Greene (28-4)

Friday’s semifinals

10 a.m.|Macon County/Covington winner vs. Cheatham County/Grainger winner

11:30 a.m.|Marshall County/DeKalb County winner vs. Westview/South Greene

Saturday

11 a.m. Championship game

----

Macon County (30-5)

State tournament record: 6-6

Previous appearances (6): 2018, 2017, 2013, 2011, 1994, 1991

Finals appearances/runners-up (3): 2018, 2013, 2011

Covington (28-5)

State tournament record: 1-3

Previous appearances (3): 2013, 2002, 1960

Cheatham County (28-3)

State tournament record: 1-6

Previous appearances (6): 2018, 2004, 2003, 1995, 1991, 1989

Grainger (30-6)

State tournament record: 2-4

Previous appearances: 2016, 2015, 1998, 1978

Marshall County (26-7)

State tournament record:

Previous appearances (21): 2008, 2007, 2000, 1998, 1995, 1991, 1990, 1984, 1980, 1979, 1978, 1977, 1976, 1974, 1973, 1972, 1971, 1968, 1967, 1966, 1925

Finals appearances/runners-up (5): 2008, 2007, 1980, 1976, 1972

Championships (4): 2008, 1980, 1976, 1972

DeKalb County (23-11)

State tournament record: 7-5

Previous appearances (4): 1965, 1959, 1928, 1926

Finals appearances/runners-up (1): 1959

Westview (29-5)

State tournament record: 11-12

Previous appearances (13): 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2010, 2009, 2005, 2003, 2001, 1996, 1995

Finals appearances/runners-up (2): 2003, 1996

Championships (1): 1996

South Greene (28-4)

State tournament record: 32-23

Previous appearances (29): 2017, 2016, 2015, 2010, 2009, 2001, 2000, 1999, 1996, 1995, 1994, 1993, 1992, 1991, 1990, 1989, 1988, 1987, 1986, 1984, 1982, 1981, 1980, 1979, 1978, 1977, 1976, 1971, 1969

Finals appearances/runners-up (9): 2017, 2016, 2000, 1994, 1992, 1991, 1988, 1987, 1986

Championships (6): 2017, 2016, 1992, 1991, 1988, 1987

----

Macon County statistical leaders

Keeley Carter|18.5 points per game (PPG), 7.6 rebounds per game (RPG), 3.7 assists per game (APG), 2.6 steals per game (SPG), 53 percent field-goal percentage (FG), 85 percent free-throw percentage (FT)

Jalynn Gregory|14.6 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 2.6 SPG, 2.3 APG, 38 percent 3-point field-goal percentage (3-PT), 84 percent (FT)

Abby Shoulders|8.4 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 2 SPG, 1.6 APG, 38 percent FG, 72 percent FT

Jamie Ashburn|6.1 PPG, 2.1 RPG, 1.8 APG, 1.7 SPG, 48 percent FT, 44 percent 3-point

Marah King|5.9 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 62 percent FG, 54 percent FT

McKaylee Mix|3.8 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 38 percent FG, 60 percent FT