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Dawgs 16-0, ‘cold’ BHS girls fall

Doing his part to help fill the shoes of three ex-Bearden Bulldog post players now playing Division 1 major college basketball, Drew Standifer is honest about his adjustment curve into Class AAA high school basketball.

“It’s a lot more fast-paced, it took some time to get used to,” said Standifer, a 6-foot-5 junior post, after his 10 points helped BHS stay perfect — 16-0, 7-0 in District 4-AAA — by crushing Heritage 85-36 Tuesday, Jan. 12, at BHS.

Along with Chris Phillips, a 6-foot-6 senior, Standifer is the Bulldogs’ other big man this season. “I need to improve on my ballhandling, my post moves, I need to improve on a lot of things,” Standifer said. “But I’m practicing hard. Everyone is.”

Rico White, BHS junior guard, led his team with 17 points, followed by junior posts Will Winton and Spencer Peake with 12 each and junior guard Ty Greene 10.

Meanwhile, the BHS Lady Bulldogs built an 11-2 lead late in the first quarter and never trailed — until the 2:17 mark of the fourth quarter, losing a defensive struggle to Heritage 35-29 and falling to 8-4 overall, 5-2 in 4-AAA.

Bearden’s girls were held to just one basket during the final 9:10 of regulation time.

Despite HHS leading scorer Lauren Burnett being held to 11 points — just two in the first half — Heritage improves to 8-8 overall, 2-5 in district.

About holding down Burnett, “A lot of credit goes to Shayla McDaniel, that was her man most of the game,” BHS head coach Nathan Hodges said about his senior forward, who also scored nine points. “Also, it was kind of a whole team effort to try and shut down the other team’s best player.”

(More on this game later in story)

Full-court pressure led to numerous Bulldogs points in the first quarter alone, as the Maroon hosts led 28-15 after one frame, 46-25 at halftime and 69-29 after three quarters.

DeQuan Wright and Jordan Buck scored six each for Bearden, followed by Jaeland Lawson five, Jordan Wall four, Dion Fair two points and Phillips one free throw.


Playing just its second game in 25 days, Bearden’s lack of spotlight action may have partially explained its sluggish offensive output.

“Offensive we struggled after that first little run to start the game,” Hodges said. “We took some good shots and missed them, we turned the ball over at times and just never really seemed to get in sync.

“I thought we did a really good job executing on the defensive end.”

About the team’s lack of recent game-time, Hodges said “it probably was” a factor in Bearden’s sluggish offense, pointing to four consecutive days without even practicing (Jan. 7-10) due to recent snow and ice.

“It’s like rust on top of rust,” Hodges added. “Heritage had a good defensive plan [1-2-2 zone], did a good job on us. But we definitely never got into a rhythm on offense.”

Ellen Smith, Lady Bulldogs’ 6-foot-2 senior post who led her team with 10 points, said, “We really let down on our defense at the end, but we had a pretty good defensive game.

“I think they just played harder, they out-hustled us at the end and that’s never good, especially when you’re playing at home.”

Despite its early nine-point deficit, the Lady Mountaineers’ zone defense proved quite effective, holding Bearden to just five points the final 10:41 of the first half.

“Basically protecting the basket and taking away our inside game,” Hodges said.

The Lady Bulldogs led 16-12 at halftime.

Bearden still struggled offensively, but Heritage couldn’t manage to pull even despite having a couple of chances midway into the third frame.

A Smith rebound basket followed by Taylor Cravanas’ two free throws built the BHS lead back to six, 26-20, with only 15.9 seconds left in the third.

But a critical mistake at the third quarter buzzer — fouling on a desperation three-point field goal try —allowed HHS’s Kitty Inman to sink all three free throws to cut the difference to 26-23 with eight minutes left.

Both teams went 3:12 without a point to begin the fourth quarter before Burnett’s 12-foot jumper and foul shot on a three-point play tied the game for the first time, 26-26, with 4:48 to play.

Jai-Jai McLaughlin’s driving five-footer, which would be Bearden’s first field goal of the fourth — and its last — put BHS up 28-26 with 3:28 remaining.

Kat Morris capped a long Heritage possession, featuring two out-of-bounds calls going HHS’s way following missed shots, with two free throws giving the visitors their first lead, 30-28, with 2:17 left.

The BHS girls misfired with just under two minutes remaining and the Lady Mountaineers rebounded.

About a minute later, Burnett sank two free throws of a one-and-one chance with 41.6 seconds to go, making it 32-28.

Another BHS miss and Heritage rebound led to one Tracy Hardiman free throw, at the 21.6 second mark, and a 33-28 visitors bulge.

Taylor Cravanas managed to sink one free throw for Bearden, but Hardiman iced the game with two more made free throws with just 9.3 seconds left.

McLaughlin added four points for Bearden, and Cravanas and Leslie Sayers three points each.


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