Head coach: Charles Mitchell (7th season)

Last season: 26-7, lost to Wooddale in region semifinals

Starters lost: 2

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Starters returning: 3

Players to watch: G Travonte Powell, F Brandon Alston, F Tyjuan Smith, F Devin Dean, F Michael Renfro, G Myles Starks

In the modern era of high school basketball, only one boys’ Tipton County high school basketball team has ever made it to the state tournament.

That came when Covington made it to Nashville and lost to Austin East in the first round in 1987, long before any of this year’s Chargers were born.

The Chargers came close to breaking that dubious Tipton County streak the last two seasons. Covington lost to Wooddale last year in the region semifinals and to Hamilton in 2018. Wooddale and Hamilton both went on to win state titles.

Covington’s three returning senior starters – Brandon Alston, Travonte Powell and Tyjuan Smith – have those near misses in the backs of their minds.

Covington senior Tyjuan Smith, one of three returning staters, throws down a dunk during action last season. Photo by David Perry

“I don’t stress about it, but I think we learned from it,” Alston said. “I think we have a different attitude this year.”

“We’re more of a family now,” said Smith. “Our motto is ‘believe in now.’”

That trio of players will play a big role if Covington is able to get to the state tournament for the first time in 33 years.

Powell is a lightning-quick point guard who led the team with 16 points per game last year. Alston is a 6-6 forward who averaged 15 points, 10 boards and two blocks last season and the 6-4 Smith is a bruising post player coming off a junior season that saw him average 13 points and eight rebounds. All three are getting college looks.

Seniors Myles Starks and Michael Renfro are back after productive seasons and 6-4 junior Devin Dean is one of the team’s most improved players. Three more seniors – Marteze Logan, Tory Bradley Jr. and Josh McGarity – will provide depth, as will juniors Bremorris Tipton and Tyreke Winfrey and sophomores C.J. Fayne and Desmond Douglas.

If things go as expected, Covington will once again find a tough Memphis team standing between it and Murfreesboro.

“We’ve grown and we had a good summer,” said head coach Charles Mitchell. “I don’t think we understood the moment (last year) and we ran into a team with some seniors who could play. They knew what it takes. We just have to get it done and make plays down the stretch.”

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