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No. 2 Bulldogs complete season sweep of Admirals

The Bearden Bulldogs basketball team proved once again that its one of the best teams in Knoxville by beating rival Farragut 54-41 Friday, Jan. 18, at BHS.

Both Bearden (No. 2-ranked in Class AAA statewide at 21-1, 8-1 in District 4-AAA entering the week) and Farragut (16-6, 5-4) struggled to get their offenses going, as it was a close battle early. Bearden took a 13-10 lead after one quarter and a 23-15 lead into halftime.

“I know by midway through the second quarter we knew we were in for, so we really had to gut it out and it really was more of a physical game,” Bearden head coach Mark Blevins said. “Farragut played so hard. All of their kids crashed the boards tonight and they played us pretty even with the exception of Demonte [Simpson].”

Simpson, a 6-foot-9 junior post, led Bearden with 20 points and 18 rebounds.

“Demonte was really awesome again,” Blevins said. “He really was the player of the game for sure.”

Bearden expanded the lead to 31-17 with 5:33 remaining in the third before Farragut made a run to close out the quarter trailing 39-28.

The Admirals’ Ben Saunders converted on a three-point play to open the fourth to tighten the deficit 39-31, but Bearden went on a 6-0 run to increase the lead 45-31 with 5:30 left in the fourth.

“Farragut played sensational,” Blevins said. “We played hard, and I tell you it looked like the Packers and Giants without the snow. It was just a really physical, hard-fought game on both sides.”

Bearden juniors Dustin Craig and Gabe Campbell each scored nine points, while Blake Jenkins had six and Nathan Parker added four.

Junior point guard Andy Fennell scored six points, but more importantly handled the ball well and controlled the pace of the game for the Bulldogs.

“Fennell, I thought, was the difference in the ballgame,” Farragut head coach Donald Dodgen said. “He shot the ball well. Jenkins got some points, Simpson got some points, but Fennell was the difference tonight.”

Kyle Binder led Farragut with 11 points and Saunders chipped in nine for the Admirals.

“We fought hard, and give them a lot of credit because they came out to play,” Fennell said. “It was a defensive struggle and we just worked hard and battled it out.”

Dodgen didn’t hesitate in saying that Bearden is the best team his Admirals basketball team has played this season.

“This team here should win the state,” Dodgen said. “I think this team right now is the best team in the state of Tennessee right now. If [Blevins] can keep everybody healthy they should win the state.

“If I was betting I would go ahead and tell the parents to go ahead and buy my hotel room over there and go, because they are the best high school team I have seen around here.”

Even though the Bulldogs have played well throughout the entire season, Blevins says it is still too early to start thinking about championships.

“We have a long ways to go,” Blevins said. “We are very talented but our basketball I-Q still has much improving [to do]. It’s improved immensely from last year and they have done as well as they can.”

With the Bulldogs improving, Fennell credits his coach as one of the main reasons for the team’s success thus far.

“[Coach Blevins] is a great coach, great mentor, great teacher and he works with us every day, individually even,” Fennell said. “I think we have matured a lot and we work hard. We have a ton of good players and they work hard every day and get it done.”


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