Bearden escapes with overtime win over Farragut behind Wright’s 24

Jacob Steimer

Bearden’s administration and security staff had their work cut off for them to keep an ecstatic student section from storming the court after the Bulldogs’ 59-53 overtime win over Farragut on Friday night. But it didn’t take long for a jubilant group of players to join the raucous student celebration after postgame handshakes. After a late comeback by the Admirals sent the game into overtime, and the gym to a roar, an amazing overtime showing by the Bulldogs sent students and players alike into a frenzy. “It was a great experience,” sophomore guard Jack Graham said. “The environment in that game, when it goes to overtime, that’s as good as it gets.” Unfortunately for the Bulldogs (17-8, 10-4 District 4), it was almost as bad as it gets. Farragut’s Blake Williams buried a deep 3-pointer to tie the game at 51-51 with less than a minute left in regulation to complete the Admirals’ comeback, which erased a 40-18 first half Bearden lead. Then, after both teams failed to score on their final possessions, Williams put the next two points on the board with a quick strike at the beginning of overtime. Williams finished with 32 to move up to fourth on Farragut’s all-time scoring list. “Williams is a great player,” Bearden Coach Mark Blevins said. “He is outstanding, and he is really hard to deal with.” With all the momentum in Farragut’s favor, Bearden, playing without leading scorer Drew Standifer (ankle), executed a play to get the ball into the hands of its best available scorer – senior guard Daquan Wright. “We give the ball to Allan (Pirie), swing it over to Jack, and put me in the corner,” Wright said. “Luckily I got open, and they gave me a good look.” Wright hit the 3-pointer, and the momentum was emphatically back on Bearden’s side. Graham then made two free throws, and Bearden led 56-53. On Farragut’s next possession, Williams brought the ball down the court, stepped inside the three-point line, and then back out. He went into Pirie’s arms with the shot, but the referees judged that it was a clean block. “I was lucky they didn’t call (a foul); it was definitely close,” Pirie said. “I hadn’t really guarded him much throughout the game, but (Coach Blevins) trusted me to do it, so I felt good.” His coach felt that he had reason to trust him with the man-to-man defense. “He is our best defensive player,” Coach Blevins said. “Allan always plays the toughest guy, night in, night out.” Wright (24 points) made three more free throws to finish off the game’s scoring, and the Bulldogs had weathered the storm to secure their 13 th win in a row against their West Knoxville rivals. “The game is all about heart at the end,” Coach Blevins said. “Whichever team has the heart is going to win.” And while the win is all that ultimately matters, Bearden will have some concern about its offense after this game. Outside of Wright, Bearden’s top scorer was Jordan Wall with eight points, and Bearden scored just 11 points in the second half. The Admirals (9-15, 4-10) certainly took advantage as they scored 29 in the second half. “I was a little shaky when they started coming out like that,” Graham said. “But I knew that with Coach Blevins and this team, we were not going to let them beat us on our home court.” Lady Admirals 62, Lady Bulldogs 45: The Lady Admirals won with their intensity on Friday night, winning a game that was not close, but still hotly contested. Players on both teams fouled and fought right to the end, a bitter end for district champion Bearden (19-5, 12-2). And while Jai-Jai McLaughlin still got her 19 points, made baskets did not come often enough for Bearden, and they certainly didn’t come early. Farragut (19-5, 11-3) led after the first quarter by a score of 14-5, a lead that they were never to relinquish. “Farragut just beat us in every facet of the game,” Coach Justin Underwood said. “They did a much better job than we did.” Whitney Smith led the Lady Admirals with 22 points, followed by Madison Blevins who contributed 13. Bearden will still enjoy the top seed in the district tournament and is determined that this loss was just a bump in the road. “It’s one game; let’s not sit here and dwell on it,” Coach Underwood said. “But if we don’t learn from it, then it can bite us again later. “You never want to lose, but if you don’t take the loss and learn from it, you’re losing an opportunity.” Jacob Steimer is the sports editor for The Bark. Follow The Bark on Twitter @BeardenBARK, and like The Bark (Bearden High School) on Facebook.