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Defense ‘Ads’ up, Bearden swept
Dodgen: Farragut challenges ‘threes,’ makes plays late to beat BHS 68-63

Hard fought, close battles are typically the way Bearden-Farragut games go and this one wasn’t any different as the Admirals out-dueled the Bulldogs 68-63 Friday, Jan. 21, at FHS.

After losing to the Bulldogs 86-80 in double-overtime earlier this season, getting even with their number one rival was the Ads’ main priority.

Starting the game with a 12-0 run to get the FHS crowd on its side, Farragut looked liked it was laying the groundwork for a blowout. But the Bulldogs fought back thanks to their long range shooting.

BHS guard Paul Dickenson connected on four 3-point field goals in the first quarter to tighten the deficit to two points, 21-19, entering the second frame. “Anytime Farragut and Bearden play, somebody’s going to make a run,” FHS head coach Donald Dodgen said. “We started celebrating there in the first (quarter) ... we got excited ’cause we’re twelve-nothing (ahead), and the crowd’s excited. And I keep tellin’ ’em, ‘don’t play to the crowd.’ This game is such an emotional game… I tried to low-key it in the dressing room.”

Managing a four point halftime advantage, 37-33, FHS allowed the Bulldogs to go on an 11-2 run and take the lead for the first time in the game. B.J. Ware’s lay-up make it 41-39 ’Dawgs midway through the third quarter. “I thought we had them, they just played smarter than us in the second half. We played hard and they played hard but in the end they played smarter,” Dickenson said. “It’s pretty tough; this is probably one of the hardest places to play.”

From that point on it remained a slugfest. FHS used their size and BHS used its speed to swap leads.

After trailing by five to start the fourth quarter, FHS junior point guard Marcus Huie connected from long-range to pull Farragut within two, 52-50, and give the Ads the momentum they needed to take control.

“We played hard, Farragut played hard but Farragut played the most intelligent down the stretch,” BHS head coach Mark Blevins said. “Great game, typical Farragut-Bearden game and hats go off to Farragut.”

Strong play off the bench, size and defense were the keys to victory for the Ads (5-4 in District 4-AAA, 13-8 overall entering the week).

“We got away with something I didn’t think we’d get away with, we went to a one-three-one zone, and we hadn’t played it all year,” Dodgen said about the defensive change when BHS went up by six points in the third quarter. “And it messed up, I think, (Bearden’s) rhythm a little bit ... we went to the traps.”

Dodgen said he’s pleased with Farragut’s physical conditioning, crediting FHS assistant coach David Ball.

“That’s because of you,” Dodgen told Ball after the game, adding that “David deserves the credit; he ran our conditioning program this year. It was conditioning from heck ...”

“Of course, we’re dwindling down,” Dodgen added about his depth, labeling them “the walking wounded ... we’re getting pretty thin.”

That’s because reserve sophomore guard Will Akers is out indefinitely with a stress fracture in his back, and reserve junior post Scott Carroll is out a few weeks after breaking his right hand last week.

But the healthy bench players drew praise. “I’m proud of that bunch off the bench, I thought B.J. Browning, I thought Jordan Hays, Blake Denny, Tyler Powell, those four kids played so well,” Dodgen said. “Tyler Powell stole two big passes in the middle of the paint. B.J. hit a big three ... Blake Denny made a big bucket ...”

But in the end it was size that changed the game. “The big men killed us down low, we weren’t hitting our outside shots and they came out hot,” Ware said.

Senior posts Kyle Huckins (6-foot-5) and Ben Bosse (6-foot-7) were a pair of headaches for the extremely undersized Bulldogs (Nathan England being Bearden’s tallest player at 6-foot-1). While Huckins made 10-of-11 from the field for a team-high 20 points, Bosse raked down nine rebounds to go with his 14 points.

“Bosse got two big things tonight, he (forced) a five-second call down there and a blocked shot, two big plays right there that turned the ballgame around a little bit,” Dodgen said.

In addition to his 12 points, FHS senior wing Ben Wilson dished out 13 assists. “That’s a big accomplishment,” Dodgen said.

Bearden (15-8 overall, 6-4 in the district entering the week) went cold from 3-point range in the second half, hitting only four beyond the arc in the last 16 minutes compared to the nine in the first half.

“The difference tonight was we had a hand in somebody’s face when they were trying to make that three to tie the game up, where we didn’t do a good job Tuesday night (69-64 overtime loss vs. South-Doyle Jan. 18),” Dodgen said of a late BHS three attempt trying to tie the game with under a minute remaining. “We minimized their threes in the second half.”

Tony White led the Bulldogs with 18 points while Rande Sibley and Dickenson added 14 each.

As to what made the difference, “playing hard, we knew we wanted it more than they did,” Bosse said. “That’s the way it was.”


“This is just a great win, and even better to beat Bearden,” Dodgen said, adding that the FHS-BHS rivalry “is the greatest show in town. A great atmosphere ... I’ve been in McMinn County (McMinn County High School vs. McMinn Central) and McMinn County (vs.) Bradley Central and Gatlinburg-Pittman (vs.) Sevier County and Gatlinburg-Pittman (vs.) Sey-mour, and there’s no comparison.”


England scored 22 points as the Bulldogs cruised against Heritage 87-76 Tuesday, Jan. 18 at BHS.

White added 18 points, Dickenson scored 16 and Ware contributed 14 for the Bulldogs.


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