Friday, December 19, 2014 · 4:01 p.m.

The Nooga Nine

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Howard took over the top spot in this week's rankings, while Tyner moved up to No. 3 after impressive wins over Central and Brainerd. The Panthers returned to the rankings at No. 8, and No. 9 Signal Mountain makes its first appearance this season.

1. Howard (14-3)

The Hustlin' Tigers are in the midst of an eight-game winning streak, and the team's average margin of victory during that span just over 20 points. Howard cruised to a 73-58 win at Hixson on Tuesday after rolling to a 30-point victory at CSAS last Friday. The Tigers return to action Thursday when they host East Hamilton. 

2. Ooltewah (14-5)

The Owls weren't able to hold onto the top spot in this week's rankings, but they're still atop the District 5-AAA standings even after their 61-56 loss at Rhea County. Ooltewah, which responded with a 67-66 district win over Walker Valley on Tuesday, travels to red hot Bradley Central on Friday. 

3. Tyner (10-6)

The Rams followed up last week's painful, two-point road loss to East Hamilton with a pair of impressive league wins over Brainerd and Central. Tyner, which lost to both the Panthers and Pounders earlier this season, are tied for fifth in District 6-AA. The Rams host Red Bank on Thursday. 

4. Central (12-5)

The Purple Pounders have come back down to earth a bit after the team's seven-game winning streak was ended with a humbling, 22-point loss at Brainerd last week. Central grinded out a 63-57 win over Hixson last Friday, but was beaten by Tyner on Tuesday. The Pounders host East Hamilton on Friday. 

5. Bradley Central (12-8)

The Bears have climbed into second place in 5-AAA thanks to the team's four-game district win streak, and they'll host Ooltewah on Friday for a shot at first place. The Bears, winners of seven straight, haven't lost since their nine-point setback to McMinn County in the Renasant Bank Christmas Tournament in Maryville, Tenn. 

6. East Hamilton (13-6)

The 'Canes jumped up five spots in last week's rankings, but they've fallen back down a bit after three straight losses. East Hamilton had its eight-game winning streak snapped with back-to-back losses at the Scenic City Showcase, and they suffered a 49-43 defeat to Brainerd on Tuesday. The Hurricanes play at Howard on Thursday. 

7. Brainerd (9-9)

The Panthers' overall record might not be that impressive, but they've captured a pair of impressive wins last week. Brainerd, which knocked off Central and East Hamilton in the span of eight days, is currently second in District 6-AAA at 7-4. The Panthers host Hixson on Friday. 

8. McCallie (8-9)

The Blue Tornado can't seem to stop the bleeding. McCallie has just two wins in its last seven games, and it's 1-4 against Division II-AA East/Middle Region opponents during that stretch. The Blue Tornado travels to Signal Mountain on Thursday for a rematch with the Eagles, and it hosts rival Baylor on Saturday. 

9. Signal Mountain (13-9)

The Eagles have had an up-and-down season so far, but they're currently in one of their upswings. Signal Mountain followed up its 10-1 stretch by losing five straight, but they snapped that streak with last week's 68-57 win over Notre Dame. The Eagles, who've won three of four, play at McCallie on Thursday. The Blue Tornado rolled to a 29-point rout the last time the two team's met on Nov. 17

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