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Blevins praises ‘unique’ 34-5 BHS

MURFREESBORO — Despite falling behind 15-0, being out-rebounded 41-27 and out-shot 51 percent to 37.5, the Bearden Bulldogs basketball team fought hard to stay in range of mighty Raleigh-Egypt of Memphis.

Trailing by as many as 22 points in the second quarter of its opening round game in the TSSAA Class AAA state tournament Thursday, March 16, the Bulldogs' cut the lead to nine in the third quarter before losing 72-60.

“It was fantastic effort on the kids’ part to come back and cut it to nine on two separate occasions,” BHS head coach Mark Blevins said. “They’re solid at every position, and they’re deep. They were so much quicker, so much bigger and stronger. Inside-wise, they had thirty points exactly, and we had four. ... We had no size, and they had size on the boards, so they destroyed us all night inside.”

Ranked as high as No. 2 in the sate, Bearden ends the season with a 34-5 record, surpassing the previous school record for wins (32), Blevins said.

Early in the game, “We had several wide open shots, we just couldn’t get anything to fall,” Blevins said. “And they were making everything.”

Egypt, ranked eighth in the nation at one point according to Blevins (35-2 final record), was led by All-state junior point guard Maurice Miller, who scored 23 points (7 of 9 from the field, 4 of 4 from three-point range). “He’s a nice player,” Blevins said of Miller, adding that national college powers such as Connecticut are recruiting the Memphis junior.

Nathaniel Calhoun added 16 points for Egypt, followed by Derrick Edwards with 14.

Finishing 9 of 25 from the field, BHS senior standout guard Mr. Tennessee Basketball finalist Tony White Jr. ended his BHS career with 24 points, (2 of 7 on threes).

“They were constantly double-teaming him ... he had to play his tail off to get twenty-four,” Blevins said of White. “And this is with two really quick kids. As soon as he steps across half-court he’s got to dribble through the double team each time and then he’s got to face one of the six-[foot]-six kids underneath. So he had to alter his shot every once in a while.”

Despite the pressure, Bearden committed just six turnovers.

Going 5 of 6 from the field, senior B.J. Ware had 14 points, followed by senior Rande Sibley with 13 (3 of 11 three-pointers).

“B-J had a phenomenal game,” Blevins said. “And he guarded Miller. Miller had twenty-three [points], but it was a quiet twenty-three. So many times he tried to penetrate, but B.J. got his hand on the ball and deflected it out ... and stopped his penetration.”

Kalin Garner had three points. Damonte Simpson, Thomas Wiley and Marcus Webb each had two.

Making Bearden’s inside presence even more challenging was the foul problems of freshman post Simpson, who picked up his fourth foul with 3:24 left in the first half. He played only about 11 minutes total according to Blevins.


About Blevins’ five departing seniors — White, Ware, Sibley, Wiley and Garner — “A very unique group, very unique cast of characters. I’m really going to miss these guys because they’re so much fun to be around,” the coach said.

As for the season, “You can say that they’re the greatest [BHS] team because they won thirty-four games, no team ever won more than thirty-two,” Blevins said. “And they were the highest [state-ranked] team ever.”


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