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Tune ups for No. 1 in state BHS boys, No. 1 in 4-AAA girls
Boys rip LC, West; girls win, stumble versus Lady Rebels

The 2008-09 Bearden home season came to an end Thursday, Feb. 12, with the desired results.

As first reported in Farragut First Edition, Feb. 13, Bearden’s girls led all the way, with a rough patch here and there making things exciting, as they took a 49-30 win versus Lenoir City to end 13-1 in District 4-AAA and claim the No. 1 seed for the district tournament.

The state’s top-ranked BHS boys flexed enough muscles to take a 90-65 win against Lenoir City and improve to 14-0 in 4-AAA, 28-2 overall.

While the BHS boys cruised to a 80-40 win at West Friday, Feb. 13, the Lady Bulldogs (19-5 overall) found rough sledding at West, losing to the Lady Rebels 48-40.

Looking ahead to District 4-AAA Tournament play underway at Sevier County High School, Mark Blevins’ Bulldog boys will face the survivor of Lenoir City, Sevier County and South-Doyle in the tourney semifinals beginning around 8 p.m., Monday, Feb. 23. Championship game tips around 8 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 25.

Nathan Hodges’ girls await the survivor of Sevier County, Maryville and South-Doyle in tourney semifinal action starting around 8 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 21. Championship game tips around 8 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 24.


Mary Hirst, one of three seniors playing her final regular season game at the Bearden gym, scored 20 points to pace the win, 12 in the second half and continuing to dominate things inside.

“It was disjointed,” Hirst said. “We started out playing well and lost a little bit. We knew what we were doing and pulled it out in the second half.”

Fellow senior Rikki Sanders added 11 points, seven after intermission. The third senior, Joy McCuen, started and had a solid performance handling the ball.

“The last four years have been great,” Sanders said. “We’ve gotten better and came through to be the best. We were a little shaky in the first half, our defense was a step slow, and we knew we had to shake it up and make it worthwhile.”

For her part, McCuen called her two years a “good experience” playing on the same team with Hirst and Sanders.

Their careers spanned Hodges’ Bearden tenure and he said they were with him as the Bearden program turned around from a 14-18 record four years ago to this year’s district championship. “They just mean the world to this program,” he said. “It’s the most gratifying thing for a coach to see.”

Shayla McDaniel added nine, Leslie Sayers four, Jai-Jai McLaughlin three and Michelle Heath, starting in place of junior post Ellen Smith — out due to illness — scored two.

Hodges added that Smith’s absence and Lenoir City’s play had some impact on the way the Lady Bulldogs played. “I thought at times certain players stepped up and played well,” Hodges said, “but there were also times you could tell we were missing Ellen, too.”


Bearden was undaunted by Lenoir City (16-8, 9-5) scoring first, “I thought Rico White played better than anybody,” Blevins said of his sophomore wing.

Nathan Parker led the way offensively with 17, with Galen Campbell adding 12, White 11 and Ty Greene 10. “In the first game we played at Lenoir City, I don’t think I had one bucket,” Parker said. “I tried to come back stronger this game and play better and harder.” Demonte Simpson had eight points, Blake Jenkins had seven, Dustin Craig and Will Winton six each, Gabe Campbell and J. P. Burris had four each, and Benji Ware three.

“We knew we had to get another District win,” White said. “I’ve been struggling, but I knew I could pick up my game.”

It was the home regular season end of the line for seven Bulldog seniors: Jenkins, Parker, DeShawn Oravetz, Craig, Ware, Gabe Campbell, and Simpson.


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