Bearden cruises past Fulton, 70-56; Standifer injury not serious

While Tuesday night was one for celebration of on court success, it was also a night of consternation for the health of one of Bearden’s best athletes. Bearden’s boys basketball team opened its home schedule Tuesday night with a 70-56 win over Fulton, but senior center Drew Standifer sat on the bench for the second half after a scary moment in the first. Late in the second quarter, Standifer raced down the floor after stealing his third pass and was heading for his third dunk of the night. A Fulton defender came from behind and took Standifer’s legs out from under him while trying to deny the basket. The gym went silent as Standifer hit the floor hard. “I was thinking, hopefully this isn’t anything big that will keep me out for any of the season,” Standifer said. It isn’t. Standifer went to Knoxville Orthopedic Clinic this morning where he was diagnosed with a contusion on a joint on the back of his hip, he said. It should only hold him out for a week at most. “He has to take it easy today, and we’re not sure about tomorrow or Friday,” Coach Mark Blevins said. Standifer watched the rest of the decisive victory from the bench. Part of him enjoyed it, though. “It was pretty fun,” Standifer said. “I was really glad they were doing good.” Fellow senior Daquan Wright took over the role of leading scorer and finished with 17 on the night. “Daquan was stroking those threes and playing really smart,” Standifer said. Coach Blevins was also impressed by the performance of his senior guard. “I thought Daquan’s play was so, so good, and the bench played so well,” Coach Blevins said. “I don’t think we have a bench; we have 11 different starters.” One of these “11 starters” to come off the bench was junior Brady Smith, who was forced to fill Standifer’s spot at center for much of the game. He finished with nine points. “Brady came in at that point and he did a much better job than he has done in other games,” Coach Blevins said. It was Smith’s first home game, and he didn’t expect to get too many minutes in it. “It’s kind of a big role to step into,” Smith said. “It’s good we had a lead so there was not too much pressure on me. The lead was most impressive because it was only the second time in Bearden’s history that the Bulldogs have topped the Falcons by double digits. It was a huge rebound game from a disappointing loss to Greenville on Friday. “Friday, we looked like we didn’t even want to be there,” Coach Blevins said. Standifer’s 28 points and 20 rebounds was the only positive on Friday. Tuesday had much more to build on. “We performed so poorly Friday that we were the opposite end of the spectrum last night,” Coach Blevins said. “We tried to play as hard as we could defensively.” With a 14 point win over rival Fulton now on their record, the Bulldogs look to take on the rest of the season with confidence. “I think they saw last night that we can play,” Smith said. “We realized we can play. “Anytime you beat a team like Fulton, it gives you confidence for sure.” With or without Standifer, the Bulldogs will face Morristown East on Thursday at home and Austin East on Friday on the road. The offense still needs some work to get back on par with recent Bulldogs teams, a problem that will take a while to fix. “Hopefully by Christmas, we’ll be better,” Coach Blevins said.