Deep, experienced senior class ready to lead Lady Bulldogs back to state tournament


Kate Myers

Tennessee Tech signee Jenn Sullivan shoots a free throw in a game last season.

The Bearden girls basketball team has one of its deepest senior classes in Coach Justin Underwood’s tenure, and he is ready to see how their leadership and experience play out on the court this year.

The Lady Bulldogs open the season against Ooltewah on Thursday at 6 p.m.

”I think our strengths lie in our experience and leadership,” Coach Underwood said. “We have seniors that are excellent examples of student-athletes. They do an excellent job of setting expectations and helping us establish a hardworking culture within our program.”

Four members of the senior class signed with colleges this week to play at the next level – Maddie Brillhart (LMU), Bailey Burgess (Lee), Jenn Sullivan (Tennessee Tech), and Emily Gonzalez (Carson Newman).

“Personally, I am focusing on different ways I can contribute to my team,” Brillhart said. “Whether it’s shooting, rebounding, or playing good defense, I want to focus on anything that will help my team.”

Added Sullivan: “Our class’s strengths are definitely physicality and our ability to shoot the ball.” 

This senior class is especially close and does nothing but elevate each other’s play.

“I really love playing with my best friends,” said Sullivan, who is in her second year at Bearden after transferring from TKA. “I love playing with all these girls, and I think it’s going to be a great year.”

Bearden is hoping to improve on its state quarterfinal appearance of a year ago. The Lady Bulldogs went unbeaten in district play last season, winning the regular season district title, the district tournament, and the region tournament.

They fell to Hardin County in the state tournament.

“Our one big goal of course is winning state,” Brillhart said. “But we as a team have set other goals. We want to try to play our best every game hoping that will help us win every game.”

Added Underwood: “Only one team finishes the season with a win, and that is our goal.”