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Down to the wire
’Dawgs edge FHS in 4-AAA semis with late push; Dodgen labels Ad effort ‘best by far’ in 12 years

The No. 2-seed Bearden Bulldogs basketball team survived a scare against No. 3 seed Farragut 60-57 in a District 4-AAA semifinal game Monday, Feb. 18, at South Doyle High School.

The Bulldogs (30-2 entering the week) came out of the gates hot, hitting their first four shots and taking a 9-2 lead at the 5:50 mark in the first quarter. Bearden took a 17-10 into the second quarter and appeared to be in control.

“We tried to come out with some momentum at first,” said Bearden junior Gabe Campbell, who finished with 12 points. “It looked like that’s what we were doing and then we started getting in foul trouble.”

Farragut (23-7 entering the week) narrowed the margin to five by going on a 7-2 run to close the second quarter and trailed only 32-27 entering halftime.

“They picked their intensity up and we realized if we lose today, that would put us in a bad position for the region tournament,” Campbell said. “We just tried to out-hustle and out-intensify them.”

With the win, the Bulldogs earned the right to play top-seed Maryville in the District 4-AAA championship game Wednesday night (after press deadline). The Rebels are the only team to beat Bearden this season, as the Bulldogs dropped both regular season meetings in overtime.

Regardless of the outcome the Bulldogs will host its opening Region 2-AAA game at 7 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 23. Farragut, who played Lenoir City in the 4-AAA consolation game Wednesday, will hit the road Saturday.

Region boys semifinals at BHS are Tuesday, Feb. 26, with the championship game Thursday, Feb. 28.

“Farragut played extremely well,” Bearden head coach Mark Blevins said. “Each game they have improved and they played their butts off tonight, and we were fortunate to come out with a ‘W’ tonight.”

In the end Bearden made the most of its opportunities, as it was 7-of-11 from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter.

“Every possession was so critical and we ended up with one or two possessions that we executed a little bit better than they did,” Blevins said.

Gabe Campbell gave Bearden its biggest lead of the fourth quarter with 57 seconds remaining when he converted a three-point play after hitting a jumper and a free-throw.

Riley Hunley kept the Admirals alive by hitting a 3-pointer with 10 seconds left to tighten the deficit, 59-57. After Andy Fennell converted one-of-two free-throw attempts, Farragut’s Jonathan Moore couldn’t get a last-second shot to fall.

“The better team didn't win tonight, it’s as simple as that,” FHS head coach Donald Dodgen said. “We outplayed 'em everywhere except on the scoreboard.”

Bearden’s Blake Jenkins injured his right wrist late in the first quarter and didn’t return to action until 1:25 left in the third.

The junior finished with 10 points, six of which came in the first quarter. The other four came on 4-of-6 from the free-throw line in the second half.

“We were worried about him, but you have to go on and play,” Blevins said about the injury to Jenkins. “In the second half he did a really good job defensively. He gutted it out and it was big because if he doesn’t do that, we don’t win.”

Bearden’s leading scorer, Demonte Simpson, spent most of the night being double-teamed. Farragut’s Kyle Binder and Watson combined to limit the 6-foot-9 junior post to 12 points.

“The last game he had too many easy looks,” Binder said. “Coming into this game we wanted to make sure he didn’t get the ball and just try to limit his touches.”

Offensively, Binder and Moore led FHS with 13 points apiece.

"This is the best all-around effort since I've been down there, by far," Dodgen said of his 12 years as Farragut head coach.

With both Simpson and Jenkins limited, Dustin Craig stepped up when the Bulldogs needed it most. The junior finished with eight points, all in the second half, and a team-high seven rebounds.


Bearden opened the District 4-AAA tournament with a 78-38 win versus Heritage Friday, Feb. 15, at home. Simpson led BHS with 17 points and nine rebounds while Nathan Parker had 16 points.


Bearden closed out the regular season with a 62-50 win Tuesday, Feb. 12, at Powell. Campbell led Bearden with 13 points while Simpson and Jenkins added 12 each.


Led by Marcus Webb’s 21 points, Bearden opened the week with a 86-55 regular season win against Karns Monday, Feb. 11, at home


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