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Admirals trip rival Bulldogs 64-51 to extend program’s best start in 10 years

Coach Donald Dodgen and several of his players are striving to redefine the term “team” as it applies to Dodgen’s 11-year tenure as head coach of the Farragut Admirals Varsity Boys Basketball team.

“Phil Kinney hit the nail on the head, ‘we are a team,’” FHS head coach Donald Dodgen quoted Kinney as saying after the Admirals beat archrival Bearden 64-51 Friday, Dec. 8 — its first win against the Bulldogs in two seasons and first at BHS since the 2003-04 season.

“We have no superstars, we just have some good athletes that play hard play well as a team both offensively and defensively,” the coach added.Kinney, a starting senior post, led all scorers with 19 points, including 3 three-point baskets, as the Admirals remained unbeaten entering the week at 9-0, 3-0 in District 4-AAA — the program’s best start in 10 seasons. Bearden fell to 8-3, 2-1.

FHS senior starting post Zach Onusic said, “The key is we play as a team, no one’s out to do individual things. ... It feels great, we’ve been looking forward to it all year. ... It’s just an awesome experience.”

Dodgen said strategically, “One of the biggest keys, I thought, was our kids coming off the bench,” which included Kyle Binder, Riley Hunley, John Abraham, Clay Wilhoite and Jonathan Moore. “They gave us a spurt, and they helped us do the little things, made some free throws and made some jump shots for us.”

Shooting was an obvious edge for the Ads — 9 of 9 free throws versus Bearden going 11 of 25 at the stripe, and Farragut’s nine three-pointers versus the Bulldogs’ four.

“They did not hit some shots that they normally hit, and we made some shots that we normally don’t make,” Dodgen said, adding that with his team’s collapsing zone defense, “We we going to give up the perimeter shot and stop the inside first. ... And we just played good defense tonight.”

BHS head coach Mark Blevins said, “We’re not the greatest shooting team. A lot of it is because we’re young, and a lot of it is because of a lack of work in the summer. ... Blake [Jenkins] and Dustin [Craig], they had to sit out because of injuries. ... And we weren’t able to get in condition in the fall because of all the injuries.

“I’m not disappointed in our team, we’re just going to take some lumps early. Hopefully we can grow by mid-season.”

Blevins labeled FHS as “a very good shooting team,” adding they were “far better as a team” Friday.

In addition to shooting, another major factor aiding Farragut’s cause in building a 14-point first-half lead was the foul problems of 6-foot-7, 262-pound Bulldog sophomore post Demonte Simpson.

With only 2:57 off the clock in the first quarter, Simpson had picked up two fouls and sat for the rest of the half.

“I think that helped us a lot because he’s so big inside and we couldn’t defend him,” Dodgen said of Simpson, who was nevertheless held to four points.

Senior guard Will Akers, second in scoring for FHS with 12, said, “This is just awesome, especially here beating them. We came in and just wanted to play as a team. ... We just wanted to spread it out and take what they’d give us.”

Defensively, “We had to keep them off the boards, that was the main thing, really,” Akers said. “And whenever they had the ball, just collapse.”

Mason Burks, a senior starting wing, said he was “so happy,” adding this was his first win versus Bearden as a varsity player. “We’ve got a lot of confidence in our teammates. ... We don’t mind other players shooting, other players scoring, we just want to win. A lot of teams say it, but we do it.”

Akers’ three-point jumper with two minutes left in the first quarter put FHS up 12-10 and began a 15-3 Admiral run that included five straight points from Kinney, a Hunley steal-turned layup and another Akers three.

Back-to-back baskets off the bench by posts Wilhoite and Binder upped the FHS advantage to 30-16 with two minutes left in the first half.

Trailing 34-20, Bearden rallied behind layups from Matt Ternes and Jenkins and capped by consecutive three-point jumpers from Andy Fennell for a 14-5 Bulldog run to cut the lead to 39-34 with 2:10 left in the third quarter.

But Binder and Abraham, a junior wing, hit consecutive in the final 70 seconds to build back the FHS lead to 45-34.

Yet another Fennell “three” cut the Farragut lead to 47-40 with 5:35 left in the game, but Onusic and Kinney nailed threes 20 seconds apart, then Kinney’s driving layup-and-free throw all but sealed the issue, 58-45, with 2:23 remaining.

Jenkins led BHS with 16, followed by Fennell ‘s 15 and Craig with seven. Simpson added four, as did Ternes and Hunt Rosson. Terry Johnson had a free throw.

“Ternes, I thought, had a good game, Blevins said. “And Blake played sensational. That’s the most Blake’s played, we had limited Blake to sixteen minutes.”

FHS junior point guard Esean Phillips, who scored 10, labeled the game “a big win.”

Binder ended with seven points followed by Onusic and Abraham with five each. Wilhoite, Hunley and Burks each scored two.

Binder said, “It was just a great win, we had a bunch of intensity coming out and I think it carried over through the whole game. The whole atmosphere just gets you going.”


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