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Seymour title, youth playing time keys BHS 6-0 start

Highlighted by capturing a tournament championship, Bearden High School’s boys basketball team continued its winning ways with an unblemished 6-0 start.

Opening last week with a 96-74 win against Swansea Academy, head coach Mark Blevins was able to give many of his young guys some serious playing time.

“The positives about that (the 22-point win) is that we got to play a lot of our back-up guys,” Blevins said. “The whole second half we played our second and third units. One of our back-ups, Tony White, had 18 to lead us in scoring. But that was a big plus, getting them a lot of quality playing time.”

The Bulldogs carried over some hot hands against Morristown West to start the Seymour Invitational, as they picked up the 101-53 victory. Blevins said once again that the big lead allowed a lot of younger guys to play a good quantity of minutes.

“Again we got to use the second and third team the entire second half,” Blevins said. “The third team played the whole fourth quarter. All 14 guys that dressed got to score. We had four guys in double figures. The scoring was very balanced.”

In the semifinals of the Seymour Invitational the Bulldogs didn’t find the path nearly as easy against host Seymour.

Tied at the half, Bearden pulled away by 11 at the end of the third only to see Seymour cut the lead to two late. The Bulldogs played hard to get a 64-58 victory. They were led by senior post Jeremy Holliday, who had 19 points, and junior guard Paul Dickenson, who added 16.

In the championship the Bulldogs faced Rhea County, who Blevins called the best team they have faced so far this season. They also had to play without Dickenson, who was out with the flu bug.

Rhea County got out to quick lead 14-13 at the end of one. The Bulldogs fought back in the second to take a 35-31 lead but the Golden Eagles fought back in the third to tie it up heading to the final period.

Bearden hit some critical shots to pull out a 66-63 victory.

“Everybody played well,” Blevins said. “B.J. Ware came off the bench and hit some critical threes. Tony White hit a couple of critical threes. So we had everybody pitching in. Michael Scruggs played a good all-around game. Grant Domsic had nine, so everybody that came off the bench played well.”

Blevins named Mario McClunie as Bearden’s TnBank Player of the Week — not so much for his scoring as his defense. McClunie is the Bulldogs’ defensive specialist, and against Rhea County he was asked to slow down talented transfer Tim Cooper. If the name sounds familiar you might remember him from last year’s Cleveland team that beat Bearden in the finals of the Super 16 Tournament at BHS. Although Cooper had 15 points, Blevins said McClunie did an outstanding job to slow down Cooper.

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