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Dawgs bag ‘Boone,’ back to state

Daniel Boone attacked the basket against the superior quickness and athletic ability of Bearden, using the so-called “dribble-drive Memphis offense” according to BHS head coach Mark Blevins.

Meanwhile, 6-foot-6 Bulldogs post Chris Phillips got a “half-nose” wake-up call at halftime. It energized Bearden's lone senior, who scored nine of his 11 points after the break to go with a team-leading eight rebounds, in a sub-state showdown Monday night, March 8, at BHS.

“I wasn't my best at the beginning, but coach [Mitch] Carter and coach Blevins gave me a little half-noser in the locker room there,” Phillips said of a mild chewing out, told after Bearden's easy 83-60 win sending BHS to its second consecutive Class AAA state tournament.

“Full-nosers are bad, when you get the spit in the mouth. ... Half-nosers, they're in your face, no spit, more distance,” Phillips added. “I came out in the second half fired up, a little more relaxed, and got the job done.”

The state's No. 2-ranked Bulldogs begin play in Murfreesboro Thursday, March 18, with a 31-2 record. Daniel Boone, District 1-AAA tourney champs and Region 1-AAA runner-up, ends its season 21-11.

The Trailblazers enjoyed some “dribble-driving” success, but the Bulldogs seemed to answer twice for every DBHS tally.

“There's three things: experience; ball pressure, especially the ball pressure, and then the [fast] break,” Blevins said about the keys to victory Monday. “And we pretty much controlled the boards throughout the game.”

Bearden led 20-11 after one quarter, then built a 21-point second-quarter lead behind 11 first-half points from junior standout guard Rico White.

White ended with a game-high 17, followed closely by Region 2-AAA MVP Ty Greene, also a junior guard, with 16.

“I thought Rico White had an outstanding night,” Blevins said, adding how the All-District guard “controlled” DBHS standout guard Travis Keever, “especially in the first half, and Rico really made some big shots for us.”

Keever was one of three Trailblazers ending with 11 points.

“And, of course, Ty is Ty, he played sensational,” Blevins added. “I thought Dion [Fair] had one of his best games. The first half was Dion's best half of the year. He had three [steals] and he ran the offense very well.”

Fair, junior starting point guard, scored five points while dishing out five assists.

“Our big guys, they did enough to do a lot of damage inside,” Blevins said of Phillips, Drew Standifer (10 points, six rebounds), Spencer Peake (nine points, seven rebounds) and Will Winton (four points, six rebounds).

Peake, in his first varsity season as a reserve post (6-foot-2) who has played a key role inside, said, “Individually, I think I've come a long way in terms of just rebounding and just trying to hold my own in the post, because I haven't always played post.

“That was a big change for me.”

Jaeland Lawson, BHS junior guard, scored eight.

A Jordan Buck free throw and Jordan's Wall's lay-up, both coming in the final seconds, helped the Bulldogs end the game matching its biggest lead.

With Bearden's central core — White, Greene, Lawson and Fair — having played in the Bulldogs' first-round loss to Northeast in last year's state tournament, White said that experience will serve them well. “I think everybody was nervous, including me, and there was a lot of lights. And everybody was watching us,” White said. “Now we're used to it. ... We shouldn't be scared this time.”


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