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Bulldogs turn back Tribe

Douglas Fritz • Mar 5, 2019 at 12:48 AM

KNOXVILLE — In a quiet first-quarter gym, a Bearden fan yelled, “Coach, that’s a terrible game plan,” as Dobyns-Bennett patiently worked the basketball on offense.

The fan couldn’t have been more wrong.

But even in the brilliance of coach Chris Poore’s game plan and his players’ bought-in execution of it, the Indians still couldn’t overcome the Bulldogs. Bearden survived a huge challenge for a 46-40 win Monday night in a Class AAA sectional boys basketball contest.

Bearden (29-5) earned a berth in next week’s state tournament. For the Indians (30-5), it was a season-ending loss.

“The plan was to take great shots,” Poore said. “If that came within five seconds, so be it. If that shot came within a minute, so be it. And I thought our guys were very disciplined. If you rush in and try to throw up shots over their size, they get out quickly.”

Bearden rarely got out quickly. Their transition game, which destroyed D-B in last year’s sectional contest, was neutralized. And the game wasn’t decided until the final two minutes.

“We went to film and to other coaches and figured out what would give us the best chance to win,” Poore added. “And that was to value the ball. We had to execute offensively. And the guys in that locker room believed. There weren’t many people who believed, but I know those guys believed and I sure believed in them.”

THE DECISIVE MOMENTS

For some reason, the Bulldogs waited until the middle part of the fourth quarter to turn up the defensive heat. And Marae Foreman’s 3-pointer gave the Indians a 30-29 lead with three minutes remaining in the game.

Then in the blink of an eye, Bearden increased its defensive pressure and took the game away.

Ques Glover responded to Foreman’s trey with a long head-of-the-key bomb of his own. Three seconds later, Glover stole the ball and fed Trey Stephney for a deuce and a 34-30 lead.

“Bearden has very good athletes and they do a good job making you make plays,” Poore said. “We had a couple of lapses in spacing and got a little unbalanced, and it really played in their favor.”

Glover stole the ball again with less than two minutes left and went the distance for a crushing blow and a 36-30 Bulldogs’ lead.

“We knew we had a chance,” said D-B’s Charlie Browder. “We’re a great team, they’re a great team. (The coaches) came up with a great game plan. We didn’t make the plays that they made down the stretch.”

EARLY RECAP

D-B didn’t score for the first four minutes of the game, but the Bulldogs’ fans were not a factor and the Indians kept the game from getting out of hand. The score was 13-4 in favor of Bearden at the end of the first quarter, but D-B stuck to the game plan and outscored Bearden in the second quarter to close within 20-14 at the break.

And if the Indians had knocked down a few more free throws and some excellent looks at the basket, they would have taken a lead into the locker room.

D-B STANDOUTS

Foreman (16 points) and Browder (16 points, 8 rebounds, 2 blocks) were tops for the Indians. Riamello Wadsworth had just three points but factored heavily with five rebounds, six assists and three steals.

“Our guys bought in,” Poore said. “I thought they did a very good job for most of the game.”

BEARDEN LEADERS

Glover finished with 19 points, four steals and two assists. Stephney had 10 points and four rebounds. Tennessee signee Drew Pember added five points and five rebounds, and Shamarcus Brown finished with five points, three rebounds, two assists and two steals.

Pember said D-B’s patience was tough to handle.

“It was definitely frustrating, but we knew it was going to be like that coming in,” he said. “We just had to keep our heads, focus, and not give up on anything. It turned out good for us.”

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