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Dawgs third in tourney

It took a big game from freshman post Damonte Simpson and a little motivation for the top seeded Bearden Bulldogs to avoid a district tournament sweep.

Bearden, the state’s No. 6 ranked team (30-4 record entering this week’s Region 2-AAA tourney at Sevier County), defeated No. 2 seed William Blount 59-49 Friday, Feb. 24, at Lynn E. Sexton Gymnasium in the District 4-AAA consolation game to claim third place.

The Bulldogs bounced back from a 78-76 loss to Maryville in the semifinals Feb. 22.

When Simpson came off the bench three minutes into the game, he was just trying to contribute any way he could. The 6-foot-6 freshman, referred to as “Big Baby” by his teammates, finished with a team-high 16 points on 8 of 9 shooting from the field. He grabbed seven rebounds.

“Oh man, Big Baby had a good game,” BHS senior guard Tony White Jr. said. “He really stepped up and he is coming into his own.”

Having a post presence like Simpson down low is a critical benefit according to White. “I think it makes my job easier,” White said. “Not to forget about the other posts because Thomas [Wiley] can give you ten, twelve [points] every night, Andrew [Smith], Hunt [Rosson], all of our players can play, it’s just that we have to play the same way night in and night out.

“[Simpson] is realizing that he has to step up every night and pitch in,” White added. “Everybody has to pitch in now, that’s just the main thing. If everybody comes ready to play we will get the win.”

Despite the big game inside by Simpson, William Blount continued to hang around.

Going into the fourth, Bearden held a 40-38 lead.

With defensive intensity lacking according to BHS head coach Mark Blevins, the coach put on a BHS jersey for motivational purposes. The jersey, No. 30, belongs to Blake Jenkins, a 6-foot-4 freshman post who has missed most of the season with a back injury.

“Blake Jenkins is our best post player and he has been out with an injury and he would do anything to be out there,” Blevins said.

White, who along with B.J. Ware earned All-tournament honors, finished with 15 points, followed by Ware with 12, Rande Sibley six, Dustin Craig four and Thomas Wiley and Kalin Garner three each.

MHS 78 BHS 76

White scored 33 points in his first game back from a shoulder injury, Ware poured in 20, Sibley 12, Simpson seven and Craig four.


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