Three and a half minutes into the second half, with West threatening to cut further into Bearden’s lead, Quez Fair took over.
The junior guard stole the ball, went on to make two free throws on the next possession, and sparked a Bulldog run that put away the Rebels and pushed Bearden to a 61-43 victory over their district rival.
Fair’s 21 points were a game high. He made 9-of-10 free throws and scored 14 points after the 4:30 mark in the third quarter.
“Quez Fair’s fourth quarter is as good of a fourth quarter as we’ve ever had,” Bearden coach Mark Blevins said. “He handled the offense himself.
“He made all the right passes and all the right dribbles, brought the ball up by himself, he was phenomenal.”
Added Fair: “I just took it to the rim all night long.”
After Bearden (10-0, 2-0 District 4-AAA) jumped out to a 26-6 advantage to start the game, West fought back with a 16-7 run that extended from late in the second quarter to the early third quarter.
Greg Yarbrough scored a team high 10 points for West (3-3, 0-2).
“We kind of laid down on defense and didn’t box out well on offense or defense after we got ahead,” senior Adam Fulcher said. “They started hitting their shots and we started missing.
“We were out of sync, but we bounced back in the second half.”
To complement Fair’s performance, fellow junior Jason Smith recorded his sixth double-double of the season, scoring 15 points.
“We knew that West was going to be physical coming into the game, and we tried to draw a lot of fouls and get to the line because of that,” Smith said. “But we need to improve on free throws.”
Excluding Fair, the Bulldogs were 7-of-18 from the free throw line.
West’s success during their run came from trapping Bearden in the backcourt with a full-court press. The Rebels forced many turnovers, but early in the second half Bearden broke the press several times, leading to open layups.
“West’s quickness and strength started overwhelming us,” Coach Blevins said. “You’ve got to give them credit. They’re very quick and athletic, and we do the best we can, but sometimes the other team is just a little more athletic than we are.
“But every week, we are going to get better.”
Lady Bulldogs 73, West 34: Bearden scored a season-high 73 points after starting the game on a 20-2 run.
The Lady Bulldogs’ lead never dipped below 13 points after that.
“We talked about wanting to come out tonight and really put a great effort together, and not worry about necessarily production, but the intensity that we played with,” Bearden coach Justin Underwood said. “And our team played extremely hard and gave great effort.”
Coach Underwood also had high praise for senior Olivia Pfeifer after the game. Pfeifer scored 10 points and was one of four Lady Bulldogs (8-2, 2-0) in double figures.
“Olivia’s our glue,” Coach Underwood said. “She does so much for us, guard different positions, guard their best player, guard a post, play on the perimeter: she does everything, and that’s why she’s our captain.”