Jeremy Parrott wasn’t going to let Science Hill end his season again.
When he was a senior at Cherokee 29 years ago, the Hilltoppers eliminated his team from the postseason. In his first year as the head coach at Bearden, Coach Parrott’s Bulldogs exacted a little revenge, blowing out Science Hill in the Class AAA Sectional round, 86-57.
“Science Hill put me out of the region my senior year, so that’s funny how that works out,” Coach Parrott said. “They’ve got a great program here.
“Anytime you can win here, you’ve done something big, because it’s special here.”
With the win, Bearden (22-9) advances to next week’s state tournament for the first time since 2011 when they advanced all the way to the state finals. The Bulldogs’ first round game will be next Wednesday in Murfreesboro.
TSSAA will announce the first round matchups and game times for the remaining eight teams in Class AAA on Tuesday afternoon. The other seven teams that will advance to the tournament are Oak Ridge, East Hamilton, Oakland, Brentwood, Independence, Southwind, and Memphis East.
In Monday’s game, the Hilltoppers jumped out to an early four-point lead, but from there it was all Bearden.
After leading 20-12 at the end of the first quarter, Bearden went on a 17-5 run to take a 37-17 lead on two Trent Stephney free throws with 2:57 remaining in the second quarter.
The Bulldogs led 42-26 at halftime, and extended the lead to 26 with 1:01 remaining in the third quarter with a three-point play by Roman Robinson.
Science Hill, who gave Bearden some trouble with full court pressure, never got any closer than 14 points in the second half, despite forcing 22 Bearden turnovers.
“We’re a tough cover,” Coach Parrott said. “Not to say we’re the greatest team in the world, but we’re a tough cover in space.
“So we thought [Science Hill head coach Ken Cutlip] was either going to play Science Hill basketball, or we’re going to have to play a half-court game. So they sped it up, and that’s kind of what we like to do, too.”
Stephney was a large part of Bearden’s early success, scoring 18 of his 25 points in the first half, but Ques Glover led the Bulldogs in scoring with 26 points.
Dre Dave had 12 points, Drew Pember had 10, and Robinson added nine for Bearden.
The Bulldogs’ appearance at the state tournament next week will be their eighth all-time.
“As a sophomore, it’s surprising going to state, because no one believed in us at the beginning of the year,” Glover said. “This win is terrific because playing these great teams will help us when we get to state, and we have to play more tough teams.”
Scoring streak for Stephney: Stephney has now scored at least 20 points in six straight games. Over that stretch, Stephney is averaging 23 points per game, with a high of 26 points against Clinton in the Region 2-AAA Quarterfinals. Glover has scored at least 19 points in five straight games.
No trouble with stout Hilltopper defense: Prior to their meeting with Bearden, Science Hill was allowing just 53.2 points per game on the season. The Bulldogs had hit that number by the midway point of the third quarter, and ended up with 86 points, tied for their second best scoring output of the season.
Science Hill win streak snapped: Coming into the game, Science Hill was riding a 13-game win streak in which they were outscoring their opponents by 18.2 points per game. The Hilltoppers had also won 11 straight home games.