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Bearden brooms brush aside FHS teams
BHS whips pesky Ads; nation’s No. 2 Oak Hill travels to Bearden for Jan. 23 showdown

Bearden High School was buzzing last week about the big game upcoming — but it wasn’t Farragut.

It was about the nation’s No. 2-ranked and unbeaten Oak Hill (Va.) Academy team making a trip to BHS Friday, Oct. 23.

“The kids at school, that’s all they talk about; nothing on the intercom about Farragut tonight,” said BHS head coach Mark Blevins after a 68-48 victory against the archrival Admirals Friday night, Jan. 16, in FHS’s Lynn E. Sexton Gymnasium. (Story first appeared on Farragut First Edition at

Saying he’s had to fight complacency both within his team and the fan base during the season, Blevins added, “They’re all gearing up for Oak Hill on Friday, and they wanted to start selling tickets Monday [Jan. 19], and I said, ‘we’re not selling tickets on Monday, we’re going to sell tickets on Wednesday — but not on Monday ’cause we’ve got Maryville on Tuesday [Jan. 20].’”

Tickets for the Oak Hill game, $5, are on sale at BHS or can be bought on game night. A packed house is expected for the opening tip-off, expected around 7:30 p.m. after the BHS-Oak Hill JV game tipping at 6. In case of an overflow crowd, the game can be seen “on closed circuit T-V inside the school,” either in the cafeteria or auditorium, Blevins said.


Though praising Farragut for its play — especially its perimeter shooting after falling behind the powerful Bulldogs 15-0 midway into the first quarter, — Blevins singled out BHS 6-foot-9 senior post Demonte Simpson and 6-foot-7 senior post Nathan Parker.

“Parker and Demonte both had outstanding games,” said Blevins, whose Bulldogs improve to 21-1 overall and remain perfect in 4-AAA at 9-0. Farragut fell to 16-4 overall, 6-3 in the district.

Simpson, who Blevins said played his best game of the season, led Bearden with 19 points. Parker scored 10. Dustin Craig had 11.

Blevins added that Simpson, who faced three big post challenges during the holiday Arby’s Classic in Bristol, played “spectacular,” adding, “He and Nathan really were the big keys tonight.”

Ironically, it was just one week ago Simpson and Parker were benched along with fellow starter Blake Jenkins, a 6-foot-7 senior guard, for the entire South-Doyle game Friday, Jan. 9, due to what Blevins said was poor practice effort. “They’re practicing a lot harder now,” the coach added. Jenkins scored four.

But Blevins praised the effort of Farragut, who was led by reserve junior post Reese Browning’s 19 points. “We jumped out to a good lead, but Farragut really battled back and were on the verge of getting back in the game time and time again,” he said. “I thought they shot the ball very well from the perimeter in the second half. … If you take the first quarter out it’s anybody’s game. … I thought [Farragut] played hard.”

With his team leading 22-6 after one quarter and 35-22 at halftime, Parker said, “We came out a little flat in that third quarter. But I think if we would have checked ’em, pressed a little bit more, it would have been the same outcome as last time [84-41 at BHS Dec. 12].”

Farragut head coach Donald Dodgen said the early 15-0 deficit, “I thought was the difference in the ballgame … we played pretty even with ’em the rest of the way through. They’re just so dang strong and tough, I mean they’re the best recruited college team I’ve seen.”

Having been a former NCAA Division III head coach at Tennessee Wesleyan College in Athens, Dodgen added, “I’ve seen some college teams not as good as they are. … You go one through 10, there’s not many small colleges that have got a team like this. This bunch can beat you in so many different ways. [Demonte] Simpson’s so big it’s hard to get around him.

“I think Parker’s the best all-around player they’ve got,” Dodgen added. “[Dustin] Craig is normally the one who kills us.”

While emphasizing he wants to win first and foremost, Dodgen did label Friday’s game “a moral victory” because of “coming back like we did.”

Landon Hunley, FHS junior reserve guard/forward, said his team “got off to a bad start, but as the game went on we kinda picked up our defense, made some adjustments the last three quarters ... hit some big shots.”

Browning came off the bench to hit four three-point baskets. “I thought he had a great offensive night,” Dodgen said. “I thought he gave us a spurt, he’s a competitor.”

Despite his big night shooting, Browning said his confidence “has been pretty low coming back from football. My shot’s been off. I think tonight, just the hype and everything, and just getting a couple of threes got my confidence going and they just got me the ball when I was open.”

Nate Clark scored 10 while Sam Watson, FHS 6-foot-9 senior post, picked up three first-half fouls and ended with only eight points. Wayman McLaughlin scored six, Ben Mixer four and Hunley one.

Other Bearden scorers were Galen Campbell eight, Jaeland Lawson seven, Rico White six, Ty Greene four and Dion Fair two.

Blevins said he told his Bearden team prior to the Farragut game it had risen to become one of his “top four” best-ever BHS teams in his 15 years as Bulldogs skipper. “Defensively they have played really well,” Blevins said about the first 22 games. “I don’t think our defense was superb tonight, but I think Farragut had a lot to say about that.”

Blevins also said his second string played better defense than his starters.

Coming off a 60-42 setback at Maryville Tuesday, Jan. 13, Dodgen added, “It’s been a rough week offensively for us. … We have not shot the ball real well.”


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