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BHS ‘Super 10’ holds off Fulton in annual ‘Super 16’ final


By the end of the Kessler’s Super 16 Tournament boys championship game, it looked like a typical Mark Blevins versus Jody Wright hoops battle.

But Wright’s Fulton Falcons had to rally from a 30-16 halftime deficit against Blevins’ unbeaten Bulldogs to make it a tight finish among two of East Tennessee’s most highly respected high school basketball coaches and programs.

But in the end, Bearden’s size, depth and defense prevailed for a 52-48 tourney win Tuesday, Dec. 23, at BHS. It was the fifth consecutive season the two schools have met in a Super 16 tourney title game.


While the Bulldogs played in a close finish for the first time all season, improving its perfect record to 14-0, Fulton fell to 10-3.

“The first half was awesome, I thought, defensively, between [Jalen] Steele and [James] Gallman they had one field goal,” Blevins said of his team’s work against Fulton’s talented guard duo.

Individually, Blevins praised senior guard Blake Jenkins, senior wing Gabe Campbell and senior post Nathan Parker for playing “tremendous defense, because they’re playing against two of the best guards in the state.”

While Gabe Campbell was named tournament Most Valuable Player, Parker joined Bearden 6-foot-9 senior post Demonte Simpson and senior wing Dustin Craig as All-Tournament selections.

Simpson said “articles in the locker room” motivated the team because Gallman and Steele supposedly bragged about their abilities. “We fed off that and tried to hold them to as little points as possible, and we just played team defense.”

Gabe Campbell added he was motivated to play extra hard defensively because Steele and Gallman “are considered the best guards in the state in their class [AA]. We feel like if we can stop them we can stop any other guards in the state.”

But keying the Falcons comeback was a combined 30 points from Gallman and Steele in the second half, as each standout guard ended with a game-high 16 points.

“We missed some assignments,” Blevins said.

Craig added, “In the second half, I don’t know what happened."

A Gabe Campbell lob to Blake Jenkins for a slam-dunk that electrified the BHS cheering section put Bearden up 36-25 with 2:30 left in the third quarter.

Nathan Parker’s two free throws, following a dunk by Simpson, put Bearden ahead 48-36 with only 3:22 left in the game.

Simpson ended as the only Bulldog in double figures scoring with 15.

But five points from Gallman capped with his three-point basket led an 8-1 Fulton run to cut the Bulldogs led to 49-44 with 1:19 showing.

A Falcons steal and free throw from Robert Boyd made it 49-45 with one minute remaining before Simpson and Gallman traded quick baskets. It was 51-47 with 38 seconds to play.

Another Bearden turnover resulted in two free throws for Gallman at the 16.6 second mark. Gallman converted one, making it a one-possession game at 51-48, but he and his Falcons could not find a Bearden player to foul until Blake Jenkins drew a foul with only 3.5 seconds left.

With both teams in the double bonus fouls-wise, Jenkins sank the first of his two free throws to seal the deal.

“We always know Fulton’s going to come out and play us hard,” Gabe Campbell said. “We just have to keep our composure when they come at us real hard.”

Blevins added, “Hats off to both teams, just a typical Fulton rivalry game.”

Because the Bulldogs are “so hard to defend,” Wright said his goal was “to try to somewhat limit their possessions. We knew, in turn, it would limit ours as well.”

Wright added about the halftime score, “I was happy with 16, I just wasn’t happy with them having 30.”

Other Bearden scorers were Jenkins with nine, Parker eight, Craig and Gabe Campbell six each, Ty Greene and Jaeland Lawson three apiece and Galen Campbell two points.

Referring to a third quarter where Bearden’s offense repeatedly turned the ball over, “That’s the senior immaturity that we have, that’s what we’ve been fighting for two years,” Blevins said. “Trying to get the kids with more of a killer instinct.”

Bearden might of met its match during the Arby’s Classic Dec. 26-31 in Bristol (later rounds after press deadline). A Florida state champion and a Kentucky team ranked No. 1 statewide last season were both on the Bulldogs’ side of the bracket.

But Bearden’s opening round game was an 89-51 rout of Sullivan South Friday, Dec. 26, improving the Bulldogs’ record to 15-0.

A 45-16 edge in rebounding to go with 57 percent shooting paced the BHS rout, while Sullivan South was held to 39 percent shooting.

Parker and Gabe Campbell led Bearden with 18 points each, followed by Craig with 12 and Galen Campbell 10.

Jenkins scored nine, Greene six, White five, Dion Fair three and Simpson three each, J.P. Burris and Nick Kelley two apiece and Lawson one point.

 

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