Pirtle makes seamless transition from football to basketball, adds valuable post presence for Bulldogs


Meghan Oros

Tyson Pirtle takes a free throw in a recent game for Bearden boys basketball.

At this point one year ago, Tyson Pirtle was dominating the WBBL league that many Bearden students love.

Now, Pirtle is a starter in one of the strongest basketball regions in the state of Tennessee.

“I always loved basketball, I just decided that I wanted to take it seriously this year,” said Pirtle, who joined back with the team in November after the football season was finished, a season where he finished as an all-region player for his play at the nose tackle position.

Pirtle is playing somewhat of a similar role on the basketball court as he did on the football field, using his size and athleticism to disrupt the other team and make momentum-changing plays. 

The addition of Pirtle couldn’t have come at a better time for Coach Jeremy Parrott and the 2022-2023 Bulldogs (13-7, 1-2 District 4-AAAA).

“He is a representation of what we needed and what we have had in years past,” Coach Parrott said. “We have had solid post play since I have been here and since we graduated such great big men last year, we were lacking in size coming into the year. The fact that we were able to pick him up in the offseason was huge.”

The Bulldogs entered the season with many new faces expected to get meaningful playing time this season. Coach Parrott’s team lost all 5 starters from last year’s team that made it all the way to the state finals, losing a heartbreaker to Dobyns-Bennett in overtime.

Bearden hosts Hardin Valley on Friday night at 7:30 in a pivotal district game.

“The team doesn’t have nearly as much varsity experience as last season because of how large our senior class was last year,” junior wing Braden Buchanan said. “(Seniors) Jake (Poole) and Nelson (Karnowski) have done an excellent job of teaching us and helping us work our way through the season.”

All these new faces on this team have to face a much stronger district this year, following the resurgence of district foes William Blount (20-3, 3-1), Maryville (13-7, 2-2), and Friday’s opponent HVA (18-3, 4-0) who sit atop of the district standings. 

“The district is definitely tough this year,” Coach Parrott said. “We just have to be more solid on the defensive end, take care of the rebound battle and make shots.”

As the Bulldogs get into the thick of a district schedule, the players know what they have to do to improve their rank in the district and finish the regular season strong. 

“We all need to really step it up,” Pirtle said, “because we are getting close to where it matters the most.”