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Dawgs pull away late
Strong fourth-quarter push keeps ’Dawgs near the top in District 4-AAA heading to Farragut

For Bearden, finishing strong is all that matters.

After leading the majority of the game, Bearden saw its lead slip away at the end of the third quarter. But a fourth quarter rally enabled the Bulldogs to come away with a 67-53 win versus South-Doyle Jan. 12 at home.

Trailing 46-45 heading into the final quarter, Bearden (16-5 overall and 6-1 in district 4-AAA entering the week) was determined to get the lead back, and behind a 22-7 fourth quarter the deed was executed to near perfection.

“We responded well because they took the lead there and had the momentum,” Bearden head coach Mark Blevins said. “We just really executed well in the fourth quarter both defensively and offensively and that was the biggest key right there.”

During the first three quarters Blevins saw two things that his team needed to do better in the fourth quarter. His players took note and his changes worked masterfully.

“Number one was we covered them and number two was we did a much better job of boxing out,” Blevins said. “They were not able to drive on us as well as they had been the first three quarters.”

After executing these changes, Bearden saw its production on both ends of the court increase.

“The fourth quarter was big and we didn’t allow the second shot like we had been doing the first three quarters,” Blevins said. “We scored just about every possession in the fourth quarter or at least got to the free-throw line, and so that was big.”

With sophomore Blake Jenkins having his playing time decreased because of foot problems this week and sophomore Demonte Simpson in foul trouble, the Bulldogs needed somebody to step up.

Sophomore Dustin Craig was there to answer with a game-high 16 points.

“Dustin had a good game and passed the ball well,” Blevins said. “We have been a little banged up, we didn’t practice a couple of guys. Blake didn’t practice for a couple days and he wasn’t in sync tonight.”

Jenkins finished with 11 points and nine rebounds, but didn’t find his groove until the fourth quarter.

Simpson, who picked up his second foul with 3:15 remaining in the first quarter, finished with 12 points in limited action. Junior Andy Fennell dished out seven assists and grabbed six rebounds while running the point guard position.

Being down heading into the final quarter of play didn’t faze Craig because he and his teammates knew that they still had a lot left in the tank.

“We didn’t play good in the first half but we came back strong and we are just lucky to get the ‘W’ because they played hard,” Craig said. “We just weren’t hustling in the first half and we let them get in transition.”


Craig’s 31 points proved to be the difference as Bearden cruised to a 83-67 win Jan. 9 at William Blount.

“Dustin was absolutely brilliant,” Blevins said. “Dustin was the key, he hit everything he threw up and hopefully that is going to be the future right there.”

Junior Marcus Webb contributed 14 points and senior Hunt Rosson added 12.


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