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Lady ’Dawgs 2nd in Super 16
McMinn County edges Bearden hoop girls in tourney title showdown

With 1.6 seconds remaining, the Bearden Lady Bulldogs saw its chances of winning the Appalachian Business Communications Super 16 tournament collapse before their eyes.

McMinn County post Niala Harris’ last second lay-up put the Lady Cherokees up 75-73 in a dramatic come-from-behind victory in the championship Friday, Dec. 29 at BHS.

Bearden’s Rikki Sanders hit a 3-pointer with 12 seconds remaining to knot the game 73-73, but too much time remained and McMinn County capitalized.

“Rikki Sanders has struggled all year a little bit with her shot,” Bearden head coach Nathan Hodges said. “We’ve known she’s a great shooter and her percentages aren’t real great, but right there in the clutch moment she really came through.”

Bearden (10-5 overall record entering the week) led the entire first half and McMinn (12-3) took its first lead with 5:40 remaining in the third. The Lady Bulldogs regained the lead and took a 61-53 lead into the fourth quarter. It was there that McMinn’s experience flourished as they outscored Bearden 22-12 in the final quarter.

“I thought we played really well as a whole,” Hodges said. “We were still inconsistent at times, young players will be and it could have gone either way. I thought both teams played really well.”

In a game that came down to making the plays at the end, Bearden came up short.

“There were times where we didn’t make plays we could have,” Hodges said. “In a game that close those little things are the difference and they made just a couple more than we did.”

Harris gave Bearden trouble all game long, finishing with 30 points. Amy Jo Castor had 16 while Derika Mooney added 12 for the Lady Cherokees.

Bearden was led by Allysia Bailey’s 19 points and Mary Hirst’s 16. Sarah Canter had 13 and Sanders added 10.

Despite coming up short in the championship game, Hodges feels that his young Bearden team has made great strides this season and feels that they are becoming better with each game.

“It’s really great for our program because we haven’t even been in the championship game in a number of years,” Hodges said. “To have a winning streak by putting wins together against good teams and to play well today against a team that’s really good kind of lets our team know that we can play and gets us ready for the stretch run after Christmas.”


Hirst’s 18 points helped Bearden defeat district foe Karns 59-50 in the second round of the Super 16 Thursday, Dec. 28. Canter scored 11 while Bailey added 10.


Led by Bailey’s 14 points, the Lady Bulldogs defeated Rhea County 68-26 in the opening round of the tournament Wednesday, Dec. 27. Sanders had 12 while Hirst and Mercedes Cotner each contributed nine.


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