BY BRIAN HAMILTON
WALLAND – Bearden jumped out to an early lead and never looked back during Tuesday night’s contest with Heritage. The Mountaineers entered the contest at 0-4 in district play and still in search of its first district win in two years. Bearden thwarted Tuesday night’s attempt, however, as the Bulldogs jumped out to an early lead and never trailed in the contest, coming away with a 64-37 win.
“I didn’t think we played well at all,” Heritage coach Brad Flatford said after the game. “We were prepared and knew what they were going to do, but we looked like a team that was unprepared tonight.”
Bearden led 10-4 midway through the first quarter when King Hubbard hit a three to stretch the Bulldogs’ lead to 13-4. A layup by Drew Brillhart would make the score 15-6 with 15 seconds remaining in the first quarter and Bearden would take a nine point lead into the second period.
The Bulldogs led 26-10 midway through the second quarter, but a Grant Campbell three, followed by another Campbell jumper would pull the Mountaineers to within 26-15 with just under three minutes left until halftime.
“He can shoot like that if he gets out there for a little bit,” Flatford said of Campbell’s shooting performance (two three-pointers).
Chase Riddings made a basket to trim the Heritage deficit to 28-17, but a three by Justin Nordin would put Bearden ahead 31-17 with 2:16 left in the second quarter.
Campbell drained another three from the corner to make the score 31-20, but a three by Drew Parrott and a layup by Nelson Karnowski would push the Bearden lead back to 36-20.
Sophomore Eli Williams would drain a three at the buzzer to send the Mountaineers to the half trailing 36-23, with a deficit that was still manageable.
Bearden led 38-25 early in the third quarter, but the Bulldogs then embarked on a 6-0 run to increase the lead to 44-25. A jumper by Williams would end the run and cut the Heritage deficit to 44-27 with 2:29 left in the third quarter, but the Mountaineers found themselves with the game slowly getting away.
A pair of put backs by Tyson Pirtle and Justin Nordin would give Bearden a 48-29 lead going into the final quarter.
The Bulldogs stretched the lead to 53-31 midway through the fourth quarter and a steal and layup by Jamichael Blair would put Bearden ahead 56-33 with 1:51 left in the contest.
Williams split a pair of free throws late in the fourth, making the score 56-34, but Blair would come down on the other end and make a layup to put Bearden up 58-34.
Blair continued his scoring surge late in the fourth quarter, converting a traditional three-point play and draining a three with 25 seconds remaining. The Bulldogs would walk away with a 64-37 win, as Heritage was left still searching for its first district win of the season (0-5).
“We just couldn’t score consistently enough,” Flatford said. “If we don’t take care of the ball consistently enough, it’s hard to score. That’s our problem and it’s been our problem for a large part of the year. We had a hard time defending them and turning the ball over. It was not a good night for us at all.”
Bearden improved its record to 13-7 and 1-2 in the district, while Heritage dropped to 10-10 on the season.
Drew Brillhart led all scorers with 15 points, while Heritage’s Grant Campbell finished with 14. Nelson Karnowski finished with 10 for Bearden, while Dalton Siva, Tyson Pirtle and Jamichael Blair each added eight apiece.
In addition to Campbell’s 14, Heritage was led by Eli Williams’ 11 points. No one else scored more than four points for the Mountaineers.
Heritage (10-10) will host another district foe, in Farragut (12-10), on Friday, as the Mountaineers are now on the backend of a 5-game home stand. Bearden (13-7) will host district foe Hardin Valley (18-3) on Friday.