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Dawgs get physical in Puerto Rico

Facing an especially physical brand of high school basketball that Bearden head coach Mark Blevins said “resembles the NBA,” the Bulldogs were forced to adjust during its eight-team tournament in Puerto Rico last week.

And given BHS faced the best player it'll see all season according to Blevins, the task may have seemed overwhelming.

But looking at the final scores of Bearden's three games, Blevins’ boys seemed to overwhelm Puerto Rico thanks to wins of 74-41, 59-40 and 88-46 to run away with the Island Jam Thanksgiving tourney title.

Blevins’ top-50 nationally ranked Dawgs start the week 6-0.

Despite the lop-sided scores, “I'll tell you, the Puerto Ricans can play,” Blevins said, adding, “We learned real quick we had to get physical.

“You had to adapt to that real quick. If you didn't, you were going to get waxed. Luckily we did. You can actually push, just like the NBA.”

That included allowance of “hand checks” defensively, Blevins said. “Much more so than Division I college.”

Overall, “Our team really had to play outstanding basketball, and they did,” Blevins said.

Meanwhile, Rico was most dominant in Puerto Rico. Rico White, BHS senior wing, was named tournament Most Valuable Player by average just beyond 20 points per game in addition to his defense, which Blevins praised.

Beating three different Puerto Rican teams, the Bulldogs crushed Santa Maria Prep School 88-46 in the title game Saturday, Nov. 27, led by White's 23 points.

“When we got two spurts, we were really on top of our game,” Blevins said.

Bearden actually trailed 23-13 after one quarter before a 52-8 run during the next 16 minutes easily settled the issue.

Ty Greene, senior wing who earned All-tourney honors, scored 13 and added seven assists. Drew Standifer and Davor Salatovic each scored 10.

Dion Fair, Bearden senior point guard who also earned All-tourney honors, scored seven points, dished out seven assists and had five steals.

Spencer Peake led BHS in rebounding with nine followed by Will Winton's eight.

The Bulldogs opened tourney play Thanksgiving Day by crushing the island's top-ranked team, Adianez Prep School, 74-41 behind Green's team-leading 17 points, six assists, six rebounds and five steals. “He had quite a game,” Blevins said.

Standifer pumped in 15 points and raked down 11 rebounds, while White scored 15 and Winton 12. Austin Weida added seven points.

The Bulldogs actually trailed 19-7 before a huge rally.

Friday's semifinal round saw Bearden beat Sagrado Prep School 59-40 behind White's 23 points. Green added 19 points, five rebounds and four steals.

Blevins said Sagrado wings Edgurdo Castro and William Pacheco, who each scored 13 points, are “possible [Division] I players.

“We won't find anybody better than Castro.”

However, Blevins also said White's defense against Castro “was as good a job as he could do.”

Though Standifer scored just two points, the 6-foot-6 post had nine rebounds, three blocks and three steals. He also won the tournament's Slam Dunk Contest.

Fair scored four while dishing out six assists and grabbing five rebounds and four steals.

The senior point guard also won the tournament's dribbling/lay-up competition.


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