Lady Bulldogs looking to capitalize on state tournament experience in Murfreesboro


Nolan Russell

Bearden gets into its defensive set against Farragut.

The Bearden girls’ basketball team has had an incredible season so far, with the Lady Bulldogs state-bound for the second year in a row.

The Lady Bulldogs (27-3) beat Science Hill in a sectional on Saturday, setting up a state quarterfinal against defending state champion Blackman (26-1) at 2:45 p.m. (Murfreesboro time) on Wednesday at the Murphy Center.

The winner will play either Arlington or Beech in the state semifinals on Friday.

Bearden has plenty of experience in state tournaments, and their experience and hard work are both key factors to the team’s success. 

“I think experience is a big piece in athletics,” Coach Justin Underwood said. “I think that the chance to go down there and play on the floor and see the atmosphere is amazing.

“We’ve got five seniors and two juniors, so I think the opportunity to have participated in that last year is definitely a bonus for us.” 

Senior guard Jenn Sullivan knows a thing or two about playing in the state tournament. This is her third year going to Murfreesboro, once at TKA and now twice at Bearden.

“I think our experience definitely gives us an advantage,” Sullivan said. “Almost all of us have been to state before, some of us multiple times, so we definitely know what to expect and the level of competition we’ll see there.”

With the girls’ experience in the state tournament, comes lessons learned that can be used to help them be successful this year. After the 48-39 loss to Hardin County last year in the state quarterfinals, Coach Underwood definitely had some takeaways that will help push the team in the right direction for this year’s tournament.

“That was our least successful night shooting,” Coach Underwood said. “So finding ways to put the ball in the basket even when you’re not shooting it well enough is a big deal.

“I think the combination of focusing on each opponent for 32 minutes and finding ways to score the ball on nights you can’t shoot are probably the main things.”