2 years of district perfection

Lady Dawgs pull away late to capture 4-4A tourney v. FHS

  • As the plaque indicates their accomplishment, Bearden Lady Bulldogs players celebrate a District 4-4A Tournament championship. - Action photo courtesy of Jake Mealey/Bearden team photo by Alan Sloan

  • Annalise Bishop, Farragut junior point guard (with ball), looks to shed the defensive pressure of Bearden senior guard Bailey Burgess during the District 4-4A Tournament title game at Heritage High School Monday night, Feb. 21. - Action photo courtesy of Jake Mealey/Bearden team photo by Alan Sloan

BLOUNT COUNTY — Largely behind the scoring of a special senior trio, led by wing Avery “Ace” Strickland’s game-high 24 points, Farragut hung tough against powerful Bearden in the District 4-4A Girls Tournament championship game at Heritage High School Monday night, Feb. 21.

But the Lady Bulldogs (29-3) were 11-of-11 at the foul line in the fourth quarter to maintain control — having only shot two free throws the first three quarters — led by senior guard and tourney MVP Emily Gonzalez’s team-leading 17 points, for a 62-50 victory.

“We came out not at our best, but we ended up doing fine, working through the adversity Farragut threw at us,” Gonzalez said.

“We just made our free throws, and they couldn’t do anything about that,” said Avery Treadwell, Bearden’s 6-foot-3 junior post who scored 10 points and joined Gonzalez on the All-Tournament Team.

This also marks the second straight season that Justin Underwood’s BHS girls have gone undefeated in district, both in league and tournament action.

Senior wing Maddie Brillhart scored 15 for Bearden, while senior guard Jennifer Sullivan added 10 and senior guard Bailey Burgess eight. Sullivan and Burgess also were All-Tournament honorees.

“I couldn’t be prouder,” coach Underwood said. “You get everybody’s best shot each night. Farragut’s a really good team, they’ve got a bunch of college players on that team.

“You’re playing a rival in a championship game, so I wouldn’t expect anything less. They’re well-coached.”

Senior wing Keeleigh Rogers scored 13 for the Lady Ads (23-7), followed by 10 points from fellow senior wing Ashlyn Sheridan. This duo and Strickland were named All-Tournament.

FHS senior post McCall Willis nailed a three-point basket.

Down 8-5 after one quarter and 23-20 at halftime, Farragut tied the game 23-23 on a Strickland three-point basket early in the third quarter.

“We didn’t make some shots in the first half like we normally would,” Underwood said.

“Defensively, I thought we were pretty good in the first half,” Lady Admirals skipper Jason Mayfield said.

But a Brillhart three, consecutive three-pointers from Burgess and a Sullivan steal-turned-lay-up made for an 11-1 run and a 34-24 Lady Bulldogs lead with 3:10 left in the third quarter.

However, the Lady Ads rallied, as two Rogers free throws cut the lead to 47-43 with 4:32 to play.

But three Gonzalez free throws, the last on a basket-and-foul shot three-pointer, pushed the lead back to 52-43 with 3:49 remaining.

“I felt like we battled all the way to the end,” Mayfield said.