By Ken Lay
Bearden High School’s girls basketball team proved that it could evenly distribute the ball Tuesday night. The Lady Bulldogs also showed that they liked to play a little defense.
Defensive tenacity and a balanced scoring attack spelled victory for Bearden in a 64-37 victory over Alcoa in the opening round of the Central High School Thanksgiving Classic.
The win in Fountain City helped the Lady Bulldogs keep their perfect record intact. Bearden (4-0) had four players score in double figures. Center Anajae Stephney had a game-high 16 points. Trinity Lee added 11 (all in the first half) and Chanler Geer and Holly Hagood each finished with 10. Jalia Arnwine had eight points for the Lady Bulldogs, who made seven shots from beyond the 3-point arc.
Lee, Arnwine and Stephney each made a pair of long-range jumpers. Geer, one of Knox County’s most versatile players also buried a 3-pointer for Bearden, which opened a 32-21 lead by halftime.
“I’m proud of the girls,” Lady Bulldogs’ coach Justin Underwood said. “Everybody who stepped on the floor came in ready to play.
“Our younger kids stepped up late for us and that’s important because we’re going to need those kids to help us as the season goes on.”
The Lady Tornadoes (1-2) found themselves in an early hole that would prove to be insurmountable but Alcoa coach David Baumann applauded his team’s effort.
“Bearden is a great ball team and they came out and shot the ball well early,” Baumann said. “They’re one of the better teams in the area and they’re one of the better teams that we’ll see.
“But our kids didn’t quit and I was happy with our defense for three-and-a-half quarters. They wore us down late but I’m happy with our effort.”
The Lady Bulldogs opened a 32-21 lead before the Lady Tornadoes made a run and sliced Bearden’s lead to 40-31 with 2 minutes, 21 seconds to go in the third quarter.
Bearden used a modest 7-2 surge to end the third frame and regain control of the contest.
In the final quarter, the Lady Bulldogs’ were especially stingy with giving up points. Alcoa scored just four points over the last eight minutes. Bearden held the Lady Tornadoes scoreless over the last 4:54.
“I think us holding them to four points in the fourth quarter was impressive,” Underwood said.
Tara Shields and Hannah Troutt each scored 13 points for Alcoa.