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Skid ends for Bearden girls

In recent weeks the Bearden Lady Bulldogs basketball team has been trying to find its identity. On Friday, Dec. 14, the Lady Bulldogs found it in an 81-68 thrashing versus Lenoir City at home. The Lady Bulldogs (4-5 overall and 2-3 District 4-AAA entering the week) have struggled lately both offensively and defensively, but against Lenoir City everything finally fell into place.

“We played a little bit more like us tonight,” Bearden head coach Nathan Hodges said. “We found ourselves a little bit. That’s the team we have been trying to find.”

Bearden took control from the start and took a 50-33 halftime lead due in large part to the ability to take care of the ball while under pressure.

“We were able to attack pressure,” Hodges said. “Be confident with the ball and burn people for pressuring us, and that is something that we haven’t been able to do.”

Junior guard Rikki Sanders led Bearden with 20 points, including four 3-pointers.

“This was my biggest game for my threes,” Sanders said. “I just knew that if they were going to leave me open it was my time to shoot.”

Hodges said Sanders has taken a strong leadership role on the court.

“Rikki has been all over the place, even in games where we played poorly,” Hodges said. “She gives us 100 percent every night and when she makes a mistake its an aggressive mistake. The rest of our team really fed off that tonight and had the same kind of attitude and it showed on the scoreboard.”

For Sanders, the main focus is playing well as a team.

“I believe the reason we won was because we had fun and our whole team was in the game,” Sanders said. “There weren’t just five players that you could say played well.”

Junior post Mary Hirst had 18 points and senior forward Jenna Maynard had 11. Others scoring for Bearden were Shayla McDaniel eight, Sarah Canter and Taylor Cravanas seven, Dena Riner five, Ellen Smith three and Angel Fine two.

Getting off to a fast start is critical when a team plays a fast-paced style of game such as Bearden. The Lady Bulldogs took a 24-10 lead after one quarter and kept the high level of intensity throughout the entire game.

“The best we have done recently is to play even early, and tonight to jump on them right from the start and play well early really set the tone for the game,” Hodges said. “It gave us confidence, which is something that has been lacking.”

For a team that had lost its last five games coming into the Lenoir City game, ending the slide was the number one goal.

“We found our identity a little bit at times and played really well at stretches,” Hodges said. “There are still things to work on but I am pretty pleased right now.

“After having struggled for a couple weeks it was refreshing to be able to come out and play well.”


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