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’Dawgs can’t hold big early lead, fall to MHS

The effects of youth caught up to Bearden one final, painful time during the Region 2-AAA semifinals last week.

Shooting lights out in the second quarter while building a 34-19 lead against District 4-AAA tourney champ Maryville, the Bulldogs couldn’t hold on. The end result, a 54-50 Rebel victory, ended the BHS season with a 26-10 final record. About Maryville’s rally, “I think a lot of it was immaturity,” BHS head coach Mark Blevins said about his team. “We’re still young. I was hoping we would be ‘juniors’ by the end of the year, but we’re still ‘sophomores.’”

However, nailing five 3-point baskets in the second period, Bearden quickly built on a 15-12 lead after one frame to lead by 15 late in the first half. And the long-range wealth was spread out, as threes came from Matt Ternes, Dustin Craig, Gabriel Campbell — and two from Andy Fennell.

Added to that a Bulldog defense frustrating the Rebels, causing numerous forced shots, and the lead stayed in double digits.

“We did play really well in the first half,” Blevins said. “We shot the ball well from the perimeter in the first half.

“And then they went back to man-to-man in the second half.”

Though Blevins said his Bulldogs were generally effective against the Rebel man-to-man defense during a pair of regular season games, “We just get anything going offensively from the perimeter, and they had us stymied inside,” Blevins said. “We couldn’t get any post moves. We just didn’t have any post game in the second half. [Maryville] played well, they played strong.

On the other side of the court, “The difference probably was we went for a lot of pump-fakes, and they were able to get to the free-throw line,” the coach added, as MHS coverted 19-of-22 free throws. “We just weren’t strong enough to make moves to score from the perimeter or the post.”

Maryville scored the final four points of the half to make it 34-23 at the break.

Blevins said “the biggest thing” was allowing those last four points, coming in the final six seconds on four free throws by Jordan Damron, the last two after Damron’s steal at midcourt and drive to the basket where he was fouled with no time left on the clock.

“They really had a lot of momentum going in at halftime.”

Though the Rebels slowly crawled back into the game, star wing Kent Basile picked up two quick fouls and suddenly had four at the 3:57 mark of the third period and had to sit.

Seconds later, Fennell’s lob pass to Craig for a lay-up put Bearden up 40-32 with 3:18 remaining in the third quarter.

But the final 3:08 of the quarter would begin the ’Dawgs’ downfall.

Bearden standout sophomore forward Blake Jenkins picked up his third foul at the 3:06 mark of the third, and Maryville started its rally.

Three Damron free throws, a short Aaron Douglas basket and two Wes Lambert free throws after a technical foul capped a 7-2 MHS run to cut Bearden’s lead to 42-39 after three quarters.

Making things worse was Jenkins’ fourth foul, coming with just one second left in the period. Campbell also picked up his fourth foul late in the third.

Damron’s 15-footer cut the lead to 42-41, then Douglas gave the Rebels its first lead since the opening quarter with a spinning five-footer at the 7:05 mark.

Murphy’s Law was at full force for the maroon team, as Jenkins fouled out with 6:37 remaining. Add to that a technical foul, and the MHS lead was 45-42.

“We had some critical calls go against us for one reason or another,” Blevins said. “Hard to explain, but a tough way to lose it — that’s the bottom line.”

Bearden ended a 3:44 scoreless drought with a Campbell 12-footer, cutting the Maryville lead to 45-44 with 5:58 left.

Basile came off the bench and nailed a spinning five-footer to put Maryville up 49-46 with 2:40 to play.

“We had some critical turnovers, we were in the twenties, and you can’t do that in a big game,” Blevins said.

With MHS ahead by two and 33.6 seconds left, Damron made two free throws for a 51-47 lead. After BHS mis-fired on a three-pointer, Damron sealed the Rebel win with two more free throws.

Campbell led the Bulldogs in scoring with 10 points, followed by Fennell, Simpson and Hunt Rosson with eight each.

Rosson, Bearden’s only senior, scored six of his eight in the first quarter.

“He’s had a good senior year, averaged around seven [points] a game, and we always had Hunt play the best perimeter offensive player,” Blevins said. “He turned into our defensive specialist. He plays with a lot of heart and a lot of enthusiasm.”

Jenkins scored five and Ternes three.

Maryville, which finished second in the 2-AAA tourney, was led by Basile’s 18 points, followed by Damron with 14.

Though Blevins said this season marks the first in his 13 years as BHS skipper for Bearden to win no tournaments — either regular season or post-season — he nevertheless labeled 2006-07 “a fantastic year.”

Blevins mentioned that several Bulldog players overcame serious injuries coming into, and during, the season: Craig (knee), Jenkins (slipped disc in back), Simpson (foot problems), Campbell (broken foot before the season) in addition to losing point guard David Upchurch to a season-ending injury after a car wreck.

Plus two other Bulldogs unavailable for summer workouts due to other obligations.

“We were just blessed to be twenty-six and ten.”


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