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Bulldogs stay perfect, claim Land-Air crown

Behind Demonte Simpson’s 23 points, the Bearden Bulldogs captured the Land-Air Tip-Off Classic Championship with an 81-60 win against Nashville Maplewood Saturday, Nov. 24, in Greenville.

The junior also grabbed seven rebounds and was named tournament MVP among the 16-team field. Junior Nathan Parker added 21 points and five rebounds for BHS. Junior Gabriel Campbell dished out five assists.

After a tight first quarter, the Bulldogs trailed 14-13. From then on, it was all Bearden.

“They started out hot against us and then we got the lead and pulled it out,” Bearden head coach Mark Blevins said. “We played really well the last three quarters.”

It was the defense that made the difference for the Bulldogs against a talented team.

“We played well as a team I thought,” Blevins said. “Maplewood is athletic, too, and I thought our defense really came to play. I thought that was probably our best defensive effort.”

Parker and Blake Jenkins were named to the All-Tournament team. Gabriel Campbell didn’t earn the honor, but according to Blevins he was as deserving as the others.

“He didn’t make the All-Tournament team but I feel he played better than everybody for all four games,” the coach said.

The win leaves Bearden with a 7-0 record entering the week. Despite not having a loss, Blevins said his team still has a lot of work to do for a successful season.

“I want us to be better all the way around,” Blevins said. “We are shooting the ball O-K. That has probably been our forte up to this point, but we need to be more well-rounded, especially defensively. ...

“Last year we were very immature,” Blevins added. “It was probably the most emotional team I’ve had so if we can mature emotionally and skill-wise we are going to be pretty tough. But we have to mature, otherwise we will play about like we did last year.”

Bearden defeated Austin-East 73-58 in the semifinals Friday, Nov. 23. It was the third time the two teams played in the last two weeks (plus two scrimmages).

Jenkins and Simpson led the way with 16 points each. Parker had 15, Dustin Craig and Gabriel Campbell 11 each, Andy Fennell three, and Marcus Webb one.

The Bulldogs defeated Madison Central 58-49 Wednesday, Nov. 21, in the second round. The Bulldogs struggled with the Madison Central size early as BHS had its first five shots of the game blocked, 15 overall.

“As big as we are they are much bigger and much more athletic,” Blevins said. “We were very fortunate to hang on and beat them. They have at least three Division I players on their team so they are pretty good.”

Jenkins led BHS with 17 points, while Parker and Simpson added 10 each. Gabriel Campbell had nine, Fennell six, while Craig, Webb and Galen Campbell had two apiece.


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