The Bearden boys basketball team begins what it hopes will be an exciting week to come when the TSSAA state tournament begins Wednesday.
The Bulldogs will return to Murfreesboro for their second consecutive year to contend for a state title; they open the tournament with a quarterfinal matchup against Mt. Juliet (27-7) at 3:45 p.m. Eastern on Wednesday.
Last year – under the direction of then first-year coach Jeremy Parrott – was the Bulldogs’ first time back in the tournament since 2011.
This year, Bearden is feeling more prepared with last year’s experience and a more mature team.
“You just know what to expect,” Coach Parrott said. “It’s just the simple fact that the excitement and the newness is not quite the same. It kind of gets to be more of a business trip in your mind.”
Ques Glover, one of many stars in Bearden’s talented junior class, feels as though another season spent together has well prepared the team to enter into state feeling confident.
“Going there last year as sophomores versus going up there now as juniors is different,” Glover said. “We have more chemistry as a team, and we are all a little older.
“We should be able to seize the moment better than we did last year.”
Bearden has also been much more consistent this year. The Bulldogs started the 2016-17 season 5-5 before hitting their stride on the way to state. This year, Bearden has lost just once – on a last-second shot to Columbus (Miss.), who just won its own state title.
The other six teams in the tournament are Whitehaven (22-6), Powell (22-11), Clarksville Northeast (29-5), Riverdale (26-7), Memphis East (26-3), and Blackman (32-0).
If the Bulldogs win Wednesday, they will play the winner of Memphis East and Blackman.
“We want to show everyone at state that we might be the youngest team there, but we still have heart to compete with the best teams out there,” junior guard Trent Stephney said.
In Monday night’s sectional game against Dobyns Bennett, the Bulldogs dominated en route to a 70-44 win.
Glover led the way with 19 points, and Stephney added 18.
“We put pressure on the ball and caused turnovers,” Glover said. “That gave us the opportunity to score points.”
Bearden hopes that momentum continues in Murfreesboro.
“We can’t look over any opponent,” Glover said. “We have to play every opponent like they are the best ones out there. We just have to play as a team.”