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Inexperience, injuries plentiful for BHS boys

The Bearden Bulldogs basketball team will try to overcome an injury filled off-season and turn in a successful 2006-07 campaign.

Already having lost five seniors from last year’s 34-5 school record-setting/state tourney team to graduation, key injuries to this year’s squad have the season starting not quite as Bearden head coach Mark Blevins would have liked.

“Everything is up in the air,” Blevins said. “We had some major injuries that we are trying to pray for everybody that they are going to be healthy.”

Six-foot-7 sophomore post Demonte Simpson returns as the only starter, but right now he is battling foot injuries and has seen limited action this preseason. “He has 18 size feet and has had a lot of problems,” Blevins said. “He hasn’t been able to run in the fall and we had to hold him out of everything until practice started.”

Six-foot-5 sophomore Blake Jenkins showed plenty of promise his freshman season, but went down with a back injury that kept him out the remainder of the season and is just now getting into the swing of things.

“Blake Jenkins is coming off a slip disk and did not play from December on last year,” Blevins said. “We kept him out of anything until the season started and we have had him work with specialized trainers to try and strengthen his back.”

Six-foot-4 sophomore Dustin Craig suffered a knee injury last season and is still in the recovery process. “Dustin Craig had a serious knee injury last year and had surgery in May,” Blevins said. “It’s been a long process trying to get him back. It’s taken a lot longer than we initially thought and we [had] held him out of everything until October.”

Sophomores David Upchurch and Chris Brickhouse are also battling knee injuries while fellow sophomore T’Aaron Hollins is recovering from an ankle injury.

“That’s a lot of injuries, so really we are just praying that everybody will get healthy sometime during the season and be able to contribute,” Blevins said.

The coach is hoping to have his main post players, Simpson and Jenkins, back early on in the season, but he knows that they might not be in full game shape until January. As for guard play, the loss of four seniors to graduation means that this year’s group is very inexperienced.

“We graduated our four perimeter players and really nobody else played on the perimeter so we are just bringing up our J-V and they are all competing for spots and it’s a total toss-up,” Blevins said. “Benji Ware, Terry Johnson, Marcus Webb, Gabriel Campbell, Hunt Rosson, Andy Fennell and Matt Ternes are all just competing for those spots.”

Nonetheless Blevins and his staff are looking forward to the challenge this season.

“We are starting brand new and that’s what basketball and life is all about,” Blevins said.

“It brings a new challenge and that is one of the great things about athletics so each team has to find its own identity of what it can or can’t do. And I would say that this team will be a week by week progression.”


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