Lady Bulldogs’ defense, Smith’s buzzer-beater give Bearden pair of wins over Farragut


Tyler Hotz

A packed house watched Bearden score two huge wins over Farragut on Friday night.

Tyler Hotz, Staff Writer

With around 30 seconds left on the clock and Bearden up by a substantial margin, a shot clanked off the backboard and it looked as though three Farragut defenders would maybe get a chance to cut their margin of defeat to just a few points lower.

Holly Hagood thought otherwise. The junior point guard swooped in between the three taller Lady Admirals, grabbed the rebound, and ran out the clock. A poetic, scrappy ending to the Lady Bulldogs’ 48-26 win on Friday night.

“Holly is the heart of our team,” BHS Coach Justin Underwood said. “She’s just the type of kid who works so hard, and it works out in the end.”

Farragut sunk 3-of-4 free throws in the first minute of the third quarter to cut Bearden’s lead to 23-18; the Lady Admirals did not score another point until there were just 4 minutes left in the fourth quarter – meaning the Lady Bulldogs prevented Farragut from converting a field goal for the first 12 minutes of the second half.

“We challenged them at the half to not let them be able to [get second chances],” Coach Underwood said. “One shot and done.”

Added senior Olivia Pfefier: “We really boxed out well and we secured the ball on defense after they got a shot up. We didn’t give them second chance points.”

Bearden opened up the second half on an 18-0 run that stretched the majority of the third quarter and half of the fourth.

After this rivalry fueled victory, Bearden (18-3, 7-0 District 4-AAA) now sits atop the district standings while Farragut (13-5, 6-1) slips to sole possession of second. And the Lady Bulldogs exercised a little bit of revenge after three close losses to Farragut a season ago.

“Winning against a rival is a big thing,” Coach Underwood said. “This is an extremely difficult and deep district so we know we have a lot of work to do so we can play with that passion on the defensive end.”

Hagood led all scorers with 13 points, and freshman Trinity Lee added nine off the bench.

“I think we all just got more pumped and we all came out and wanted to beat them,” Hagood said. “It was a big team effort.”

Farragut post Jaiden McCoy tallied a team high eight points. Though she was the leading scorer, McCoy saw some difficulty because of great team defense and also outstanding individual play by Bearden junior Anajae Stephney.

Another interesting aspect was the physicality that Bearden established throughout the entire contest. The Lady Bulldogs got to the foul line early and often; in contrast, Farragut did not even attempt a free throw in the first half.

“Because we were attacking and taking the ball to the rim, we were able to get to the free throw line and that got us going,” Coach Underwood said. “We challenged them to do the same thing the second half.

“The fact that we did so well in just staying in front of them made them hesitant to drive.”

Bulldogs 54, Farragut 51 (OT): On a memorable night when the arena was packed and former star Rico White had his jersey retired, Bearden and Farragut added yet another thriller to this great rivalry series.

The game was a back and forth battle, and Bearden (19-1, 6-1) saw itself in trouble down 46-44 with 1.4 seconds to go. Farragut (10-8, 3-4) called a timeout to set up its defense, which gave Bearden Coach Mark Blevins a chance to draw up an inbounds play. Junior Jason Smith – who had been held to only two points until that moment – banked in a short jumper to send Bearden into overtime with all the momentum.

“Jason is our second option of that play, and he made a phenomenal shot,” Coach Blevins said. “It was all his doing right there.”

Senior Austin Duncan led all scorers with 23, and Coach Blevins said that Duncan had his best game of the season to keep the Bulldogs in the game.

Trailing 41-36, Coach Blevins set up a play out of a timeout to get Duncan a look from 3-point range, which the senior coolly buried in front of the Bulldog student section. Moments later, Quez Fair hit a stepback 3-pointer to cut the deficit to 43-42.

“We have had a lot of these games with Farragut,” Coach Blevins said. “Even when we have great teams, you just never know because it is a rivalry game.”

Bearden remains in first place in the district, holding the head-to-head tiebreaker over Maryville.