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Big-time competition for Bearden hoops teams
BHS boys dump two former state champs during third-place Arby’s Classic finish

The firepower was impressive during the annual Arby’s Classic in Bristol late last month, and Bearden made its presence felt.

Despite a 70-62 loss to Georgia defending “Upper Division” state runners-up Miller Grove (Lithonia) in the Arby’s semifinals Tuesday, Dec. 30, the Bulldogs won twice against powerful opponents among an 18-team field.

Beardem (17-1 entering the week) took third place by holding off Memphis Briarcrest Christian, defending Division II state champ, 64-61, Dec. 31 in the consolation game. Also among BHS’s three Arby’s wins was a 57-54 victory against Florida two-time defending Class 4-AAA champ Monsignor Pace (Miami) Monday, Dec. 29.

Individually for Bearden, senior guard Blake Jenkins and senior post Nathan Parker were named All-Tournament among 15 honorees. BHS head coach Mark Blevins said Jenkins’ game versus Miller Grove “was probably the best he’s every played in his life.” Along with a team-high 17 points, “He played excellent defense, too.”


“Briarcrest was a great win, we had a great first half,” Blevins said. “They had a great second half, we just held on.”

The Bulldogs win came despite a game-high 32 points from Leslie McDonald a 6-foot-9 University of North Carolina signee. Briarcrest post Johnny White, a George Mason signee, added 10. “They really played well the second half,” Blevins said. “McDonald, we couldn’t hold him back. We did hold [Greg] Wooten, their other [Division] One kid ... to seven.”

Nathan Parker led Bearden with 16 points followed by Dustin Craig with 14, 12 in the first half. Galen Campbell had eight, Blake Jenkins seven, Demonte Simpson and Jaeland Lawson six each, Ty Greene three and Gabe Campbell and Rico White two apiece.

“Our Go Squad is what got the lead for us in the first half,” Blevins said of his second string: Craig, Gabe Campbell, Greene, White and Lawson. “They just pressured ’em, I think they had 16 turnovers in the first half.”


Mfon Udofia, a 6-foot-4 point guard committed to Georgia Tech, scored 20 points to led a Miller Grove squad Blevins said “had everybody back” from last year’s state runners-up in Georgia’s largest classification.

“He was hard to control,” Blevins said. “They were just so dad-gone quick for us, and they had tremendous size. ... That hurt us in the fourth quarter.”

Bearden led 54-49 entering the fourth quarter, but converted just one field goal thereafter. “We played ’em even until the fourth quarter,” Blevins said, as BHS missed three critical free throws late. Galen Campbell added 12.

BHS 57 PACE 54

Shooting 51 percent from the field helped Bearden overcome 21 turnovers forced by Pace in the Arby’s quarterfinals.

“We did show some maturity, we fought hard and made a comeback to win that one,” Blevins said.

Rakeem Buckles, a 6-foot-9 power forward heading to Louisville, was held to 13 points. “Demonte held his own,” Blevins said of Simpson’s work on Buckles, while the BHS post also ended with 13. Jenkins scored 12 and Gabe Campbell 10.


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