Lady Bulldogs keep rolling in 2023 despite having to replace four starters


Tammy Kregel

Lainey Cox (left) and Avery Treadwell play defense in a recent game against Heritage.

Losing one starter from a championship team is a tough thing to replace. Losing four of them can crush a team.

That’s what makes the Lady Bulldogs’ run this season even more special.

“It’s definitely been something that we have had to adapt to,” sophomore forward Lainey Cox said.

Bearden is 31-0 heading into the region tournament, and the program has not lost a game since Jan. 1, 2022.

Coach Justin Underwood, who is coming off of his first state title last season, came into this season with a small group of returning players, a talented freshman class, and a transfer, and they have all been able to learn to play with one another and most importantly win with one another. 

“We have come together as a team from several different directions and a variety of talent, both new and old,” junior guard Rachael Wilhoit said.

The Lady Bulldogs captured their fourth straight district tournament title on Monday night with a 62-48 win over Heritage.

“We took it one game at a time, and we never really expected to go this far undefeated,” Wilhoit said.

They will host Powell (11-16) in a region tournament quarterfinal on Friday night at 7. The winner of that game will play the winner of Karns and Farragut on Monday night at 7:30.

“Under Coach Underwood’s leadership, he has directed and inspired that talent, one game at a time, to be the best we can be,” Wilhoit said.

Added Cox: “Our coaches put faith in us and really believed in us. I feel like that played a big part in how well we are doing.”

Wilhoit said the team’s success is because of the faith everyone has in one another.

“Most importantly, I feel our continued success is because we constantly believe and support one another, building trust and having faith in each other’s ability to do great on the court,” she said.