It’s been a long road to get to this point for the three seniors on the Bearden boys basketball team, but they’ve finally arrived at the fourth and final season of their high school careers.
The Bearden basketball class of 2016, made up of Jason Smith, Quez Fair, and William Snyder, has seen the Bulldogs’ varsity team put together a record of 78-18 in the three years that they have been a part of the program, and will get a chance to build on that in their final season.
“It feels pretty awesome [to be a senior],” Smith said. “Especially since we have such a big freshman class coming in this year, it feels good to be a leader and be like their older brother.
“I know that they look up to me a lot, and I’m just looking forward to a good season and going out with a bang.”
Bearden’s season started with a 72-67 overtime loss to Jefferson County on Thursday night. Bearden (0-1) will return to the hardwood on Saturday at Grainger County. Tipoff is at 7:30 p.m.
A large part of the Bearden seniors’ job will be to lead the many newcomers that have joined the team in the offseason.
There are only two non-seniors returning from last season’s varsity roster.
“It’s wait and see [with the new players],” Bearden Coach Mark Blevins said. “You just never know with those things.
“Here at Bearden we always have a guy that you don’t think is going to do a whole lot, but he matures and steps up and does something for us. So we’ll be looking for that.”
Coach Blevins said that this preseason has possibly been the easiest that he has taken it on his team since he has been at Bearden, due to the large number of new players.
While the underclassmen on the team will serve an important role, Coach Blevins understands that the success of this season’s team will start with his veteran players, specifically his point guard.
“Quez has to have a great year,” Coach Blevins said. “There’s nobody else that has improved as much as he did from his sophomore to his junior year more so than Quez.
“His sophomore year, he only scored one shot outside the paint the whole season, and then he came into his junior year, came close to district player of the year. He needs to improve from last year to this year as much as he did from his sophomore to his junior year for us to repeat as district champs.”
Bearden’s senior class started with 10 members their freshman year and now only three from that team freshman year remain – cementing a strong trio of Bearden seniors.
“We’ve made a lot of friends along the way and it was sad to lose them, but we know it’s our year now, and we know it’s our year to step up,” Smith said. “We’re just looking to make another mark in the history of Bearden basketball.”