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’Dawgs hold off West in a wild 41-40 finish

As he did throughout the game, Bearden senior star post Jeremy Holliday soars above a trio of defenders for two of his game-high 24 points.- Photo by Marty McCool/
As three last-second shots misfired and Bearden hung on for dear life to edge West 41-40 Friday at BHS, head coach Mark Blevins was breathing a sigh of relief.

Bearden’s recent trend of late-game collapses ended despite an unbalanced scoring sheet and the fact that BHS did lose partial control of this game in the third quarter.

But then there was Jeremy Holliday.

“Jeremy played awesome tonight,” Blevins said of Holliday’s dominating 24-point performance. “He had six rebounds, he was six-of-six from the (free throw) line, he was nine-of-fourteen from the field.”

When other Bulldog players seemed to shy away from trying to score in the third period, the 6-foot-6 senior took up the slack and scored all 10 of Bearden’s points in the period.

But this was the point at which West rallied, erasing a 33-25 deficit midway into the third quarter and going on an 11-0 run to take a 36-33 lead with five minutes to play.

Senior guard Mario McClunie’s driving lay-up following his offensive rebound gave Bearden back the lead, 37-36, with 3:40 to play.

“I thought McClunie had his best game tonight,” Blevins said. “He had four boards, which was probably a season-high for him. He was four-of-five from the field (eight points).”

Holliday’s driving five-footer with 2:35 to play gave BHS the lead for good at 39-38. Two Holliday free throws at the 1:31 mark made it 41-38.

The teams wildly exchanged four turnovers over the next minute until the Rebels got a lay-up with 17 seconds left.

BHS’s Grant Domsic missed the front end of a one-and-one free throw chance, but West missed a 15-foot jumper and two follow-up tries before the buzzer sounded.

Entering the week 13-4 overall, BHS was 4-3 in District 4-AAA .


“Execution was very good and I thought our defense was very good, we held them to forty points,” Blevins said. “Of course they held us to forty-one. But anytime you get a ‘W’ in this league, it’s a good one.”

“At Maryville they’ve got a one-point lead with three minutes left and then they end up winning by eight,” Blevins said, “so we’ve had a difficult time finishing. And we played from behind the entire game, right from the tip-off. We didn’t really quit, we kept going after ‘em. We did miss a lot of assignments off the press, and we did press them the entire night, and we gave them several easy inside buckets.”

“They got three stick-backs,” Blevins added about three late offensive rebound baskets by the Rebels. “Then we had to foul ‘’em and they didn’t miss their free throws.”

Although not wanting to get specific on those difficulties, “we’ve just got to keep working on end of game situations. Not just offensively, but defensively as well. I thought tonight we were having problems scoring, but they were having equal difficulty scoring.”

While Holliday took over in the third quarter, the BHS perimeter game disappeared not only in production, but attempts as well. “Maybe we didn’t feel comfortable with it, but we certainly didn’t look for it,” Blevins said. “We looked for Jeremy a little bit too much. We want to be a little bit more balanced than that.”


“This team had two district losses at the Christmas break, the first team we’ve ever had do that,” Blevins said of his 12 years as BHS head coach. “Most of the time we’re undefeated going into the second part of the season. We’ve been playing behind, we’re four-and-three (record) in the district right now, and we’re scratching and clawing for every signal district win we can get. “Sevier County played us tough, Heritage was a six-point, seven-point game here, William Blount played us tough,” Blevins added. ‘And we’ve got to go on the road to those places. Every game is tough for us, and we’re just not setting the woods on fire right now.

“But hopefully come tournament time we’ll be a lot better.”

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