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’Dawgs walk all over ‘talking’ Oak Ridge in region title game

Oak Ridge supposedly talked, but Bearden definitely walked the walk.

But to win by 50 points in the Region 2-AAA tourney finals took a perfect storm of Bulldogs talent coming together with motivation fueled by a painful 2008 region finals loss to ORHS that probably cost Bearden a state tourney trip. And pre-game talk.

The Wildcats did itself no favors with alleged loose lips preceding its 93-43 beat-down in the region title showdown Thursday, March 5, at West High School.

“It was all Demarcus [Rogers], their point guard, he was talking a whole lot of trash before the game,” BHS senior wing Dustin Craig said. “And [March 3] after they won, flashing his jersey at us. So we used that as motivation and billboard material.”

The state's top-ranked Bulldogs (34-2 after the win) answered the talk by smothering Oak Ridge with defense, quick transition and hot shooting.

Nathan Parker, BHS senior post named tourney Most Valuable Player while scoring 14 Thursday, said it was “their players, they reminded us” about last year’s ORHS win. “That was motivation right there.”

As for his team’s performance, Craig said, “we were clicking on all cylinders, everyone was involved, everyone hitting shots, hustling. It was great.”

While downplaying his team’s revenge motivation, BHS head coach Mark Blevins said, “The kids were ready to roll tonight … and I thought overall our defense was the key. We just didn’t allow Oak Ridge too many open looks.”

“I think they were a little let down by their performance [versus Farragut, 54-47 semifinal win March 3],” Blevins added. “This is one of our best [games] by far.”

The BHS skipper praised his “gray ghost squad,” a mostly sophomore group coming off the bench to spell the senior-dominated starters. “The gray ghost squad, they just wore ’em down with relentless pressure,” Blevins said. “And Oak Ridge had nothing left in the tank after that. … By late in the first half they really didn’t have anything left. They were saved by the bell [halftime]."

Individually, senior wing Gabe Campbell, senior guard Blake Jenkins and sophomore post Galen Campbell all joined Parker as Bulldogs on the All-tourney team.

Also, “Dion [Fair’s] defense was just absolutely phenomenal,” Blevins said about his sophomore point guard.

A sizzling fourth-quarter shooting performance by BHS wing Rico White — four three-point baskets — allowed the sophomore to lead Bearden is scoring with 17. “I was feeling it, my teammates were looking for me,” he said.

Among Bearden's impressive stats, “I think we had 37 assists and five turnovers — that is phenomenal,” Blevins said, adding his team forced “a ton” of Wildcats turnovers.

Ty Greene ended with 11 points, Gabe Campbell 10 and Galen Campbell and Jaeland Lawson — with three 3-point field goals late — each scored nine. Craig had seven, Demonte Simpson four and Benji Ware three.

OR’s Tyler Clark, an All-tourney selection, led the Wildcats (23-12 after the loss) with 15.

(See Bearden versus Morristown East sub-state story beginning on page 13).


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