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BHS survives foul fest to edge Halls in region

Bearden head coach Mark Blevins compared his team to a boxer trying to hold on at the end of a fight.

It took all they had, but in the end the Bulldogs held off host Halls for a 68-63 win in the quarterfinals of the Region 2-AAA Tournament Saturday, Feb 24.

In the beginning it was all Bearden, as the Bulldogs raced to a 14-1 lead at the end of the first quarter on 6-of-8 shooting. Halls was 0-for-9 in the quarter, the only point coming on a free-throw from senior Cameron Sharp.

Bearden picked up where it left off in the second quarter and took a commanding 34-21 lead into halftime.

Then things got interesting.

The fouls started to add up and Bearden found themselves in a situation where four starters had four fouls in the third quarter.

Team-leading scorer Blake Jenkins, who had three fouls entering the quarter, fouled out early in the third when he was called for an offensive foul and immediately whistled for a technical foul.

Demonte Simpson, Gabriel Campbell and Dustin Craig each picked up their fourth fouls in the quarter.

“We came out with authority and manhandled the boards both offensively and defensively,” Blevins said. “This one was a total team victory because I thought we were going to have to go last man.”

At the end of the third quarter the Bulldogs were hanging on to a two-point lead. The Bulldogs, however, battled through the adversity. There was no doubt the Bulldogs were limited with what they could do because of the foul trouble, but Bearden stuck together and nobody else fouled out.

“I can’t say enough about these kids, they kept punching and punching and punching,” Blevins said. “Really, we were just trying to hang on. We were like a boxer hanging on.”

Halls battled for the lead — tied the game twice but never took the lead. With 2:15 remaining, Simpson had two consecutive three-point plays to put the Bulldogs up 63-57 with 1:21 remaining.

The Red Devils battled back to trail by just one with 30 seconds left, but two foul shots by Bearden’s Andy Fennell put the Bulldogs up 66-63 with 9.4 seconds to go.

Halls had the chance for a potential game-tying 3-point shot attempt, but Sharp lost the dribble out of bounds and the Bulldogs took over with 4.6 seconds left.

After the inbound to Craig, he was fouled and knocked down both free throws to seal the game with 2.5 seconds left.

In the game there were 50 fouls called, 23 on Halls and 27 on Bearden. Bearden was 17-of-25 from the line and Halls was 22-of-35.

“We played as a team,” Simpson said. “We hit free throws late in the game and that’s all I can say.”

Craig led Bearden with 16 points while Simpson had 14. Others scoring for the Bulldogs were Jenkins 12, Campbell and Marcus Webb eight each, Fennell seven, and Matt Ternes three.

Sharp led Halls with 25 points and Gary Cooper had 14.

With the win Bearden advanced to the Region semifinals and a rematch with 4-AAA tourney champ Maryville Tuesday, Feb. 27, at West High School (after press deadline) and the Bearden coach couldn’t be happier to get the opportunity to play another game this season. “I tell you what, I have seen some wilder games in college, but I have never seen a wilder game in high school than that one,” Blevins said.

“I’m so happy to practice tomorrow.”


The Bulldogs beat William Blount 61-41 Wednesday, Feb. 21, for third place in District 4-AAA.

Simpson led Bearden with 19 points and 10 rebounds while Campbell added 17 points and five rebounds for the Bulldogs.


Jenkins and Craig were each named to the District 4-AAA All-Tournament team.


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