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Dawgs stay perfect, Lady Bulldogs fall

MARYVILLE — Whether it was a letdown after beating Farragut, the wear-and-tear of having just a six-girl rotation or just a less-than-sharp night, Bearden’s Lady Bulldogs failed to capitalize on grabbing a share of first place.

A share of District 4-AAA’s lead was at stake Tuesday, Jan. 19, at Maryville High School, but the Lady Rebels were a bit too efficient in the paint.

Taking its first lead late in the opening quarter, MHS built a 27-20 halftime edge that was never seriously challenged, as the Lady Rebs grabbed a solid hold on first place with a 59-48 win.

Improving to a league-leading 7-1 in 4-AAA, Maryville stands at 15-2 overall. Bearden falls to 6-3 in district, 9-5 overall.

“The first game, they didn’t finish very well around the rim, and we did,” BHS head coach Nathan Hodges said about Bearden’s 51-46 home win versus MHS Dec. 8. “This game it seemed like they finished everything around the rim.”

Meanwhile, the state’s top-ranked Class AAA BHS boys looked ready to push the Rebels right out of their own gym after building a 29-18 lead after one quarter.

But Maryville hung tough, and fought back to tie the game 39-39 early in the third quarter, before falling to the Bulldogs 62-50. Bearden stays perfect behind junior guard Rico White’s game-high 31 points, improving to 18-0, 9-0 in district, The Rebels drop to 8-8, 3-5. (More on this game later in story)

Hodges said his Lady Bulldogs “were just a half-second late on some plays defensively.

“You have to take away, or at least limit, their post points,” Hodges added. “We didn’t do that.”

Offensively, BHS “just didn’t get into a rhythm,” Hodges said. “The press gave us a little more trouble than it did the first time, for whatever reason. Speeding us up ... we needed to finished off buckets to make them pay.

“Against a team as big as Maryville, you have to be able to be real strong around the basket and finish off those plays with points when you get the ball inside.

“We didn’t do that.”

Jai-Jai McLaughlin, BHS sophomore point guard, led her team with 12 points, six in the first quarter as the Lady Bulldogs led 11-8 midway into the opening frame.

But an 8-0 MHS run led by two short jumpers from post Torie Vaught, who scored a game-high 14, and two converted lay-ups after steals from guard Rebekah Singleton gave Maryville a 16-11 lead it would not relinquish.

Taylor Cravanas, senior guard, and Ellen Smith, senior post, each added 11 for Bearden.

Leslie Sayers, BHS junior wing, came off the bench to score eight points, five in the fourth quarter, to spark a brief Lady Bulldogs rally.

Sayers’ baseline jumper after a steal, moments after her three-point basket, cut a 13-point Maryville lead to eight, 46-38, with 3:49 to play.

Shayla McDaniel added four for the Lady Bulldogs, and Mary-Mc Alexander two points.

For the surging BHS boys, White led the Dawgs’ third-quarter resurgence after MHS’s T.J. Kimble’s three-point jumper tied the game 39-39 with 5:40 left in the third quarter.

”They just started playing really, really physical … and it took us a few minutes to adjust to it,” said Ty Greene, BHS sharpshooting junior guard who scored 18. “This is probably the most physical game we’ve played all year, a lot of body checks going into the lane,” he added. “But you’ve got to adjust to it if the refs aren’t calling it. You gotta play through it.”

Defensively, White’s second-half work against Maryville’s Cameron Langley limited the Rebels standout to just four points in the final 16 minutes after scoring 18 in the first half.

Dion Fair scored six for Bearden, followed by Will Winton with three and two each for Chris Phillips and Spencer Peake.

“We’re ranked No. 1 in the state, but it means nothing now,” Greene said. “We’ve got to keep working to get better and better until the playoffs come around.”

With White & Co. apply extra pressure, the MHS offense scored just three points during the first 6:30 of the fourth quarter.

A Greene steal and fast-break lay-up after Fair’s steal iced the cake, giving Bearden a 59-46 lead with 1:09 to play.


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