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Blevins era: ‘16 for 16’
Bearden boys rebound from loss, win 4-AAA league crown; McDaniel paces BHS girls

Make it 16 district titles in 16 seasons during the Mark Blevins era at Bearden.

Blevins' BHS boys basketball team, dropping to No. 4-ranked statewide in Class AAA after a shocking overtime loss to West, captured the program's 16 District 4-AAA crown — either league or tournament — Monday night.

It came with a resounding 72-49 thumping of Lenoir City Feb. 8 at BHS.

“Tonight was for the title,” coach Blevins said, as his Bulldogs stood at 22-1 overall, 12-1 in district after the win. “That was important for us. Tonight we came out with a lot of tenacity.

“When Ty [Green] can be 3-for-12 [from the field] and Rico [White] can be 3-for-13 and Ty is 0-for-8 [three-point range] and you still win, that's pretty good,” Blevins added about overcoming cold shooting from top BHS players.

Picking up the pace, “I thought Drew [Standifer] had a great game tonight,” Blevins said about his 6-foot-5 sophomore post, whose pair of three-point jumper and three-point basket-and-foul-shot ignited a BHS surge late in the first quarter.

“He was really ready to play.” “All of our post contributed.”

White, a junior guard, led Bearden with 14 points. Greene, a junior wing, and Chris Phillips, senior post, each scored 11.

Will Winton and Standifer each scored 10.

Meanwhile, Shayla McDaniel's recent offensive outputs — including a season-best effort - and Olivia Taylor's defensive improvement combine to give hope to Bearden girls basketball for the remainder of 2010. McDaniel, a senior forward, scored a season-high 22 points in leading BHS (13-6 overall, 9-4 in District 4-AAA) to a 49-31 win versus Lenoir City (11-11, 4-9) Monday evening, Feb. 8, at BHS.

The win secured the Lady Bulldogs no worse than fourth in district heading to next week's tournament at LCHS. (More on Bearden's girls later in story)

Lenoir City's 6-foot-7 standout post and Sanford University signee, Tyler Hood, led the Panthers (17-6, 9-4) with a game-high 18 points.

“We actually used five different guys on him because he's that good ... we did as good a job as we could,” Blevins said.

Led by junior starter Dion Fair, “I thought our points guards handled the ball well, and that was a big key for us,” Blevins said.

“Ty and Rico played great defensively.”

Green said about bouncing back from the West loss, “That was definitely motivation. We didn't finish the game against West the way we needed to. We came out ready to play tonight.”

About his pair of big, early threes, Standifer said, “The guy left me open, so I just shot it.”

Fair added five points, Spencer Peake four, Christian Peake, DeQuan Wright and Jordan Buck two each and Jaeland Lawson one point.

White and Peake, a junior post, led in rebounding with eight each. McDaniel enjoyed her second straight big offensive game, coming off an 18-point effort despite the Lady Bulldogs' 60-54 overtime loss to West last Friday.

“Points, I attribute a lot of that to hustle, and a lot of them to my teammates looking for me when I cut to the basket,” said McDaniel, who looks to lead an otherwise inconsistent offense with her patented drives and short jumpers.

Nathan Hodges, BHS girls head coach, said McDaniel “had a monster game. She was all over the offensive boards. ... She played great on both ends. Really attacked the basket. ... and scored off good feeds.”

Taylor, a sophomore wing coming off the bench for key minutes for the first time this season, looks to add badly needed depth.

“She's gotten better defensively,” Hodges said of Taylor, who finished off the game with consecutive three-point bombs for six points. “She's been a good outside shooter, but she hadn't been able to play the level of defense it takes at the varsity level.

“But just throughout the season getting better and better in practice, she's gotten to the level where we can get her in there and get a break for some of the other kids,” Hodges added.

Taylor said, “I had to work on my defense about being quicker and staying on my feet knowing when to be on help-side defense. “If I did that I knew I'd get more playing time. I had to improve that.”

Setting a personal varsity record with six points on a pair of late three-pointers, Taylor said, “I'm not shy to shoot, I just need to work on not rushing it. ... I was proud of myself tonight for not rushing and making those.”

Against LCHS, Smith and McLaughlin scored six apiece for Bearden, with Taylor Cravanas adding five, Leslie Sayers three and Mary-Mc Alexander one point.

Hodges said the winner of Bearden's game at West game Thursday, Feb. 11, likely would decide third place heading into next week's district tournament at Lenoir City.


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