The Indians return to the site of a 26-point loss in last year’s Class AAA boys basketball sectional when they visit Bearden for a 7 p.m. game Monday in Knoxville.
At stake is a berth in next week’s TSSAA tournament in Murfreesboro.
Last year the Bulldogs defeated the Indians 70-44. D-B coach Chris Poore said his team must approach the rematch with a 50-50 mindset.
“If we don’t go down there with the mentality we can compete with them, we can forget it,” Poore said. “We have to go fight them. Hopefully we will use last year for experience.
“We’ve got seven seniors who are looking at an incredible opportunity if they compete against this team and give themselves a chance.”
D-B (30-4) and Bearden (28-5) have a combined nine losses, and only four have come against in-state Division I competition.
However, the Indians’ most recent loss was a costly one: a 56-55 setback against Sevier County in the Region 1-AAA championship while Bearden was whipping Oak Ridge in Region 2.
The Bulldogs, who have four players with Division I offers, are seeking a third straight trip to the state tournament. The Indians are trying to get back for the first time since 2010.
In other sectional games involving area teams, Johnson County travels to take on Fulton in Class AA and University High plays host to Harriman in Class A.
Poore said his players need to have a certain type of focus for this matchup.
“We’ve got to make sure we have the mentality we’re going to beat them as a team,” he said. “We can’t rely on individuals to go man on man because they have the better men.
“We have to make sure we have discipline about us that incorporates our entire organization.”
It starts up top with Division I-level senior guards Ques Glover and Trent Stephney providing all kinds of problems for opponents.
Glover, who scored 19 points last year against D-B, gives Bearden a decided speed and quickness advantage — even though Tribe guard Marae Foreman has plenty of quickness of his own.
“They have the mentality they want to get up and down and score quickly,” Poore said. “They do an extremely good job of scoring in transition. And their two guards create gaps in anything.”
Stephney tormented the Indians last year for 18 points, eight rebounds, four assists and three steals. He has scored over 2,000 points in his career and joined Glover on the Region 2-AAA all-tournament team — along with Drew Pember and Shamarcus Brown.
At 6-foot-10, Pember brings size to the Bulldogs, but there’s more to his story. Tennessee coach Rick Barnes, who is leading one of the best college teams in the nation this year, said Pember is “extremely skilled” and a “tremendous outside shooter” who can “do just about everything on the basketball court.”
Barnes made those comments after the Vols signed Pember in November.
Brown is a dangerous 6-5 swingman with DI offers, and Roman Robinson (6-4, Sr.) is another difficult matchup. Last year against D-B, Robinson had 13 points and Brown totaled eight points, five rebounds, two blocks and two steals.
The Indians lean on the playmaking abilities of Foreman, who averages 14 points and four assists per game. He is complemented by post Charlie Browder (13 points, 10 rebounds) and swingman Riamello Wadsworth (12 points, 6 rebounds).
Wadsworth stood tall against Bearden in last year’s game with 17 points. Foreman added 13.