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Bearden boys edge Farragut in region semis

Farragut tried to crash Bearden’s “trip to Murfreesboro” party during Region 2-AAA semifinal action against the powerful No. 1 state-ranked Bulldogs.

And they almost did. The Admirals kept the issue in doubt until just a bit more than a minute remained in the game — down three points with possession — before Bearden’s defense clamped down and settled the issue.

Forcing three consecutive turnovers in the final 70 seconds, BHS (33-2) survived and won 54-47 against the determined Admirals Tuesday, March 3, at West High School.

Leading only 46-43, Bearden forced an FHS turnover with Nathan Parker’s fast-break lay-up and free throw on a foul making it 49-43 with 1:05 to play.

“The long arm, I think it was [Blake Jenkins] went around — it wasn’t a foul — and flipped the ball away and they go down and score,” said FHS head coach Donald Dodgen, whose team finished the season 25-7. “[Farragut] played their guts out, they played so dang hard. … We left everything on the floor. We played with intensity.”

Meanwhile, Parker, a 6-foot-5 senior post, scored eight of his game-high 22 points in the fourth quarter, including a slam-dunk after a steal that all but settled the issue, 51-43, with 52 seconds to play.

“Parker played phenomenal … but everybody had to do their share defensively,” BHS head coach Mark Blevins said. “I thought Demonte [Simpson] did a nice job on the boards.

“Farragut played phenomenal tonight,” Blevins added. “This had to be their best game of the year. They had tremendous execution. They shot the ball out-of-sight. … We just found a way to pull it out at the end.”

Parker said, “First of all I’d like to give honor to God, that was a tough win. Farragut came out ready to play.”

Bearden, got nine points Simpson, eight from Galen Campbell and five from Blake Jenkins.

Jonathan Moore and Nate Clark, both seniors, led Farragut with 11 points each. Wayman McLaughlin scored seven, Sam Watson added six and Ben Mixer four.

The Admirals exploded out of gate in the first quarter, up 17-11, then withstood a 16-2 BHS run to close within two, 27-25, at the half. Bearden led 39-34 after three.

“I told ’em, the first quarter was the difference in this ballgame,” Dodgen said. “Because in the other two [losses to BHS], the first quarter was the difference.”

Meanwhile, Watson, 6-foot-9 senior post, picked up his third foul late in the half and fourth foul with 4:57 left in the third quarter — but survived.

Seniors Watson, Moore, Clark, Mixer, Austin Bolen, Zack Warnock and John Jester played or dressed in their final game Tuesday. “This is a good bunch, they’ve been a part of over a hundred wins [in four years],” Dodgen said.

Watson said his team “had a great year. I love my teammates, I wouldn’t trade ’em for anybody in the world.”


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