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State-bound ’Dawgs rip KDB in sectional

The scene at Bearden High School was priceless as the Bearden Bulldogs notched its ticket to Murfreesboro with a 74-51 win over Kingsport Dobyns-Bennett in the sectional game Monday, March 6, at BHS.

Led by senior Tony White Jr., a Tennessee Mr. Basketball finalist, the Bulldogs are going to the TSSAA Class AAA state tournament for the first time since 2002 and fourth time under head coach Mark Blevins. White scored 24.

The beginning of the game started slowly for Bearden as Dobyns-Bennett took a 17-11 first quarter lead, but a 3-pointer by White at the first-quarter buzzer and a second quarter adjustment gave BHS all the momentum they needed to cruise to the win.

“I thought Dobyns-Bennett did a really good job trying to take Tony out of the offense in the first quarter, and we had to counter that a little bit and get him more involved. And the shot that ended the first quarter was a real momentum builder and we just kind of took over,” Blevins said.

“Rande Sibley played the best defensive game he has ever played for us for sure, and B.J. Ware played one of his finest defensive games ever. But our big men battled inside and everybody came to play tonight, everybody wanted to go to Murfreesboro.”

With under two minutes remaining in the game, the Bearden student section began chanting “Murfreesboro!”

After the game, the students and fans mobbed the players on the court in celebration and one-by-one players and coaches alike were hoisted to the rim to cut the nets down. “It’s the greatest feeling,” Blevins said. “It’s really nice; it’s a tradition for us.”

The win is especially special for the Bearden seniors because it was Dobyns-Bennett that beat them in the sub-state game their freshman year ending their season early.

“I learned a lot, I was a freshman and it was my first varsity start,” White said. “I just didn’t want my career to end how it started with me losing to Dobyns-Bennett again in the sub-state.”

Sibley, who finished with 20 points, had a similar feeling. “We are going to state, this is the most exciting day of my life,” Sibley said. “I never dreamed it would be like this.”

Ware added 15 and Thomas Wiley seven. Damonte Simpson, Dustin Craig, Kalin Garner and Andy Fennell had two points each.

Bearden will face Memphis Raleigh-Egypt (34-1) in the first round of the state tourney at 3 p.m. EST, Thursday, March 16. The winner faces the Hunter’s Lane (28-5) versus Shelbyville (32-3) winner in the semifinals at 8 p.m. EST, Friday, March 17. The state championship game is set for 8 p.m. EST, Saturday, March 18.

At least one Bulldogs feels confident about BHS’s state chances. “We are winning the state, We are going to win state,” Sibley said.

Bearden earned the right to host the sub-state game by claiming the Region 2-AAA championship over Powell 79-51 Friday, March 3, at Sevier County High School.

White, who was named tournament MVP, scored 31 points to lead the way. Sibley, who scored 16 points, joined White on the All-Tournament team along with Ware and freshman post Simpson. Ware had 11 points and Simpson four.


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