KNOXVILLE — For the second consecutive year, the Bearden High School boys basketball team will head to the Class AAA State Tournament.
But second-year head coach Jeremy Parrott makes no secret this trip isn’t a luxury.
“I want to play on spring break,” Parrott said after his Bulldogs methodically dismantled Kingsport Dobyns-Bennett 70-44 in a State Sectional 1-AAA game at BHS Monday night, March 5.
“When we left [Murfreesboro] last year, we knew that we wanted to get back. We knew that we wanted to play basketball this time of the year and we know that anything else is unacceptable.”
Bearden (37-1) will make its return trip to the midstate Wednesday, March 14, against an opponent not determined at deadline.
The Bulldogs darted out to an early 19-4 lead before the Indians’ Mareae Freeman buried a 3-pointer as time expired in the opening frame to make the score 19-7.
The Bulldogs scored first in the second stanza when Trent Stephney knocked down a long-range jumper. Quez Glover buried another one to make it 24-7 before the Indians (27-9) finally showed signs of life.
Dobyns-Bennett then pulled to within 24-15 when Foreman scored midway through the second quarter — but the Bulldogs closed out the first half with a flourish. Glover and Stephney each scored five points in the second frame and Kordell Kah knocked down a 3-point shot in the waning seconds of the first half to give Bearden the 32-19 advantage that it enjoyed at the break.
After halftime, the Bulldogs’ defense stiffened and became extremely stingy. Bearden’s 19-9 run in the third quarter all but put things away. The Bulldogs opened a 51-28 lead by quarter’s end.
Bearden had three players post double figures in scoring. Glover led the way with 19 points. Stephney added 18 and junior Roman Robinson 13 — 11 after halftime.
Shamarcus Brown scored eight points and Kah knocked down a pair of 3-pointers in the contest.
“We knew that we wanted to go to the state, and we knew that to do that we had to come out here and play harder than we had played before,” Glover said.
The night was special for Justin Ketterl, Bearden’s lone senior, who had a dunk in the fourth quarter of his final home game.
“It was great to see Justin enjoy his senior night,” Parrott said.