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Special senior athleticism, sophomore smarts to fuel BHS boys hoops

Mark Blevins said “there’s no comparison … athletic-wise” that his 2008-09 Bearden Bulldogs varsity boys basketball team is the best in his 15 years as head coach.

However, “We’re still not in the top 10 of the teams that’s I’ve coached at Bearden as far as our basketball I-Q and our fundamentals are concerned,” he added about a team returning four starters and key depth from a 33-4 ’07-08 season that reached substate in Class AAA.

Specifically pointing to upperclassmen, “Competitiveness, intensity, those are elements that we’re missing,” Blevins said, “You never know how we’re going to play, how we’re going to show up.

“As athletes, they’re fabulous, and their athleticism makes up a lot for their lack of fundamentals,” Blevins added. “A lot of that is never really working hard in the off-season to get any better.

“This summer, for instance, we’re 4-and-4 at Ole Miss,” Blevins added about a summer tournament in Oxford, Miss, against some of the south’s better high school teams. … We go over to Fulton with the upperclassmen, and we’re 2-and-3 at Fulton’s camp.”

However, during recent weeks, “This is the first time I’ve ever really seen ’em work,” he added.

But Blevins said he is so impressed with the work habits and hoops IQ of his sophomores, he’s declared every starting position open. “The best thing about this team is the sophomores we have, they really push the seniors,” Blevins said. “The younger group, we’re going to be able to do multiple stuff with.”

Blevins said sophomores versus seniors scrimmages have produced split results on the scoreboard, “and that’s a good thing.”

As a result, “Right now they’re all going to be playing an equal amount of time in the games to see what kind of lineup we are going to have by Christmas,” Blevins said.

Bearden’s athletic senior class is led by 6-foot-9 post Demonte Simpson (14.5 points per game/10 rebound per game), 6-foot-5 post Nathan Parker (11.7/7.2), 6-foot-7 guard Blake Jenkins (10.4/3.3), 6-foot-6 wing Dustin Craig (7.4/3.9) and 6-foot-4 wing Gabe Campbell (9.3/3.5/1.5 assists).

Blevins said point guard play and “overall shooting” also are question marks for last season’s District 4-AAA tourney champs that lost at Kingsport Dobyns-Bennett in substate. But with shooting, “I have seen a lot of improvement just in the last three weeks,” Blevins said.

Four Bulldogs are in the point guard battle: sophomores Jaeland Lawson and Dion Fair, and juniors J. P. Burris and Benji Ware. “All four of ’em have been playing about equal time in the scrimmages,” Blevins said.

Among the sophomores, “Ty Greene is competing hard at the two-guard position with Jenkins, and Rico White is competing hard at the other wing position with [Gabe] Campbell.” Guard Galen Campbell “is competing hard for one of these spots. Will Winton [post] is competing hard.”

Other Bulldogs looking to contribute are senior wing DeShawn Oravetz and junior post Nick Kelley.


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