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’Dawgs rip Rebs, take district title; in region finals?

Things didn’t come easy for District 4-AAA tourney champ Bearden in its Region 2-AAA quarterfinal meeting against Clinton. After a slow start, the Bulldogs regrouped and went on to beat the Dragons 76-50 Saturday, Feb. 23, at home. Bearden (32-2 after Clinton) once again squared off against rival Farragut, this time in the region semifinals at BHS Tuesday, Feb. 26 (after press deadline). Though the Bulldogs were 3-0 against the Ads this season, a loss Tuesday would end either team’s season.

Region championship game is 7 p.m. today, Thursday, Feb. 28, at BHS. Substate games featuring the top two region finishers are next Monday.

A 58-42 win against Maryville in the district tourney title game was keyed by allowing the Rebels just one field goal in the first 15 minutes of the second half. Rebel sharpshooting guard Jordan Damron, who averaged 37 points in two OT regular season wins versus BHS, was held to 11 points — none in the second half.

“Blake [Jenkins] and Andy [Fennell] played sensational defense on him,” Bearden head coach Mark Blevins said. “We were trying to wear his legs out in the first half. ... Blake really alterted Damron’s shots. ... In the second half they got worn down.

“[Jenkins] and Demonte [Simpson] were our two biggest keys,” Blevins added. “Andy Fennell played sensational tonight, great floor game.”

Jenkins said, “We had a gameplan, we were going full-court the whole time, get their legs tired — that’s what we did. Stopping Damron was the main thing.

“We took advantage of ’em.”

Despite the two regular season losses, “We knew we were the better team and I think we proved it tonight,” added Jenkins, who was named All-tournament along with MVP Simpson plus Nathan Parker and Gabe Campbell.

Parker scored 10 against Maryville. “We just had to get ’em tired, get their legs, their bench isn’t really strong,” Parker said. “Our confidence is pretty high.”

Campbell led BHS with 14 points. “They’d done beat us five straight in two years, two straight this year, and we just wanted to come out and get us on the banner for the district championship,” Campbell said. “We mainly wanted it for coach [Blevins], ’cause he deserves it.”

Simpson, who scored 13 points to go with 20 rebounds in the title game, said Blevins “wouldn’t let us forget” Maryville’s five-game overall win streak.


Parker led BHS with 24 points on 10-of-11 shooting from the field while grabbing seven rebounds.

“Parker was phenomenal,” Blevins said. “You can’t shoot it any better than that.”

Bearden struggled in the first quarter, but still managed to take a 14-10 lead into the second quarter.

Rebounding proved to be a major issue for the Bulldogs. “They were boxing us out well and controlled us a little bit inside,” Blevins said. “Nobody was really hitting the boards for us in the first half.”

Simpson notched a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds and Campbell scored 10 points and grabbed nine rebounds.

“Gabe Campbell had another sensational game,” Blevins said. “We have all heard of Mr. October, well Gabe is our Mr. Playoff guy.”

Senior Matt Ternes scored all 10 of his points in the second quarter as the Bulldogs out-scored Clinton 24-12 in the second quarter to take a 38-22 lead into halftime.

The Bulldogs came out of the gates slow in the third quarter and Clinton narrowed the deficit to 39-30 with 6:33 remaining.

Bearden then went on a 12-0 run to increase its lead to 51-30 with 2:52 left. “We went to work in the second half,” Blevins said.

Fennell controlled the pace of the game while dishing out five assists and committing no turnovers. “Fennell played a sensational game,” Blevins said.


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