In the past 22 seasons of Bearden boys basketball, the program has produced a combined 25 district titles in the regular season and tournament.
Though the Bulldogs did not win the regular season district title this season, they are still very much in play for a tournament championship.
Bearden (26-2, 12-2 District 4-AAA) is the number two seed in the district tournament.
“Overall, I think we did well [in the regular season],” senior Adam Fulcher said. “I knew going into the season that we would win a lot of games, but our main goal was to win the district title and we failed to do that, so now we really want to win the district tournament.”
Bearden will play their first game of the district tournament Friday with a 9 p.m. tip off at Maryville High School. The Bulldogs will face the winner of a game between No. 3 seed West and sixth-seeded Lenoir City.
Lenoir City beat Hardin Valley 82-77 on Tuesday night to advance in the tournament.
Bearden was a combined 4-0 against West and Lenoir City during the regular season.
“Every game in the playoffs matters, so we need to keep playing intense and intelligent like we have all year,” Fulcher said. “We have [had] a whole week to practice, which will help a ton.”
Added junior Jason Smith: “To be successful in the tournament we really need to have balanced scoring and good defense. Everyone needs to pitch in and do what they have been doing all season.”
Bearden won nine of its final 10 games of the season, but the one slip up was costly. In a game where the winner would take the district crown, the Bulldogs lost to Maryville, 64-56.
Bearden could potentially meet Maryville for the third time this season in the District 4-AAA tournament championship game on Tuesday. The Bulldogs have already qualified for the region tournament.
“I think it would be special [to play Maryville in the tournament],” Smith said. “They played better that night and took the district title from us, so we are definitely looking for revenge.”
Added senior Sam Phillips: “The freshman team’s season is over, so Coach [Blevins] brought up the freshman for us to scrimmage every single day so we’re just trying to not let the loss [to Maryville] hurt us mentally.”
As for expectations, Bearden has no doubt of what they want to accomplish.
“Our goal is to make it to state and to get a shot at the title,” Smith said.
Added Phillips: “We want to win the tournament and advance to sub-state, and eventually be in Murfreesboro in March.”