Bearden defeated Whitehaven 76-60 in the Class AAA state semi-finals Friday afternoon to advance to the state championship game for only the second time in school history.
The Bulldogs will play Memphis East in the finals Saturday at 3:30 p.m. Central. The game will stream on nfhsnetwork.com.
“This game was really big for us,” senior guard Ques Glover said. “Last year, we fell short and so this year we had another chance to redeem ourselves.”
Glover led the way with 20 points, and senior Drew Pember had 19.
“We really have come a long way this season,” Glover said. “I’m really proud of our guys this because our chemistry has grown strong over the years, and I think we’re going to bring it back home after tomorrow.”
Memphis East beat Bearden in the semifinals last year before going on to win the state title. The Mustangs beat Brentwood 46-42 in the other semifinal.
They are led once again by 7-foot James Wiseman, a consensus top five recruit in the country and Memphis signee. The Bulldogs will now get another chance to beat Wiseman and East, this time with a title on the line.
“This is everything we’ve worked for,” Coach Jeremy Parrott said. “It’s something we’ve embraced since they were 10th graders and to see it all coming together is just amazing.”
Bearden opened Friday’s win over Whitehaven on a 10-0 run and never trailed.
Senior Trent Stephney limited four-star Whitehaven guard Matthew Murrell throughout the afternoon. Murrell finished with 15 points, but shot just 4-of-11 from the floor and committed five turnovers.
“I thought they all played well today,” Coach Parrott said. “Everybody filled their roles, but I thought Trent did an amazing job on No. 11 (Murrell) today.”
Bearden once again had good traveling support, including principal Mr. Jason Myers and athletics director Mr. Donald Balcom. Both administrators were quick to compliment this team’s character.
“Coach Parrott, his staff, the young men on the team, as well as the cheerleaders, and of course our student section have represented Bearden’s name exceptionally,” Mr. Myers said.
Added Mr. Balcom: “I think these kids are super focused. They came here as a business trip, and that is exactly what you saw here on the basketball court.
“The way they play, their effort, and the way they have conducted themselves off the court as well as been something that the Bearden community can really take pride in,” Mr. Balcom continued. “This is a special group of kids and I am ready for them to go and make history tomorrow night.”