News Opinion Sports Videos Community Schools Churches Announcements Obituaries Events Search/Archive Community Schools Churches Announcements Obituaries Calendar Contact Us Advertisements Search/Archive Public Notices

Bulldogs stop Dragons’ run

Bearden takes 67-40 win in second round of region

  • Jackson Garner jumps into a defender to put up a layup against Bearden. Dragons lost 67-40. - Collin Riggs

  • Rishon Bright out-jumps two Bearden defenders in the first quarter. - Collin Riggs

Clinton ended its region run and its hoops season with a 67-40 loss to Bearden in the second round of the region tournament.

The Dragons faced Bearden Tuesday, March 2. Bearden was ranked No. 1 in its district, while Clinton was ranked second in its own, just behind Oak Ridge.

The game started relatively close, with Clinton ending the first quarter down by seven after Bearden sank four threes in a row to gain a quick lead.

But Clinton struggled to hit shots from clean looks, putting up multiple shots that should have been easy baskets, only to miss.

“I think the biggest thing was our inability to make – any shot,” said head Coach Chris Lockard. “During the game, I felt like we were having trouble getting shots, but after watching the film, in the first half we missed two uncontested layups and eight shots in the paint. We missed seven walk-in treys. Defensively I thought we were right on track. Even with Bearden shooting abnormally better than they do, it was our inability to make shots.

“We had good looks, plenty of shots in the paint, open threes, and we just didn’t make anything,” he said. “We even struggled from the free-throw line. Bearden does make you play faster, and when you play at a higher tempo, those shots are tougher to make, so give them credit. Offensively, we just didn’t show up, and that’s something we have to fix for next year. We can’t have scoring droughts.”

The second quarter was where the Dragons really fell behind, though, scoring only two points the whole quarter to Bearden’s 13 to end the first half 28-11. While the Dragons found life in the third quarter, matching Bearden 14-14, they struggled more in the fourth, fouling to slow down the clock, but giving Bearden more free throws that they used to stay well out of reach for the Dragons, outscoring them 24-15 in the fourth quarter to end the game 67-40.

In a reversal of their game against Farragut, the Dragons finished with 17 personal fouls to Bearden’s eight, and gave up 16 points from 25 free throws.

Bearden, meanwhile, gave up four points from six free throws. The Dragons’ shooting problems showed in their stats, with an effective field goal percentage of only 35 to Bearden’s 51-percent.

The Dragons again came up short on rebounding, losing offensive rebounds 7-16 and defensive rebounds 17-27, and didn’t have even a single second-chance point.

Weirdly, the two teams tied on both deflections and steals (five and four each, respectively).

Jackson Garner led the Dragons in their final game of the season with 16 points and three assists, as well as a steal and a deflection.

Trace Thackerson led the team on rebounds, again with eight. Thackerson finished with only four points, but had two steals, three assists, and a deflection, as well.

Rishon Bright was the second-highest scorer for the night with 10 points, while posting three assists and a deflection.

Bearden’s defense kept Lane Harrison wrapped up for most of the night, limiting the usually high-scorer to only six points. Harrison also managed a deflection and a single rebound, as well.

Garner broke the 1,500-point scoring mark this year, specifically in the team’s first region game against Farragut.

Lockard said that, despite the loss, the season as a whole was good.

“If you look at our season, it was pretty outstanding,” he said. “We had six total losses, but three of those were to Oak Ridge, who’s ranked fifth in the state, and one to Bearden, who’s No. 2. At the end of the day, when you evaluate our team’s success this year – we were very successful. As much as that loss hurt, we were in the semi-finals in the region, and we were one of 32 teams left in the state. Hopefully the loss will help teach the team some things like focus and playing at a higher tempo.

“I felt like our kids learned that they can play at a high level; they just have to learn how to take the next step,” Lockard said. “We’ll get them there.”

Lockard is already looking ahead at the team’s summer conditioning to get ready for next season.

“If everything goes back to normal, then typically we have a couple of weeks of what we call ‘spring and summer practice.’ We’ll do that at the end of May and first of June. I think the rest of our focus as far as next season will be in individual strength development and continuing to improve on our individual skills.

“It’s a great time to work with the underclassmen and get them prepared and get that varsity ready. This is a different year. With everyone returning, we’ll be trying to fill a couple pieces of the puzzle I felt we were missing. I’m a little bit different maybe from other coaches in that I like the boys to play other sports and have some time to be a bit of a kid. I think having some time for that helps them come back with a better mindset. We’ll work with them as much as we are able, but next year rolls around and hopefully we’ll be able to make a good run at it.”