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story.lead_photo.caption Back-to-back The Bearden Bears Basketball team poses for a photo after capturing the undisputed conference championship for the second year in a row. The Bears finished the regular season 14-0 in conference play. - Photo by Patric Flannigan



Sports editor

It was senior night at the Hornets Nest in Harmony Grove as rival Bearden made the 12-mile drive to its regular season finale. After tough competitions and a lot of highlights, the varsity H.G. Lady Hornets and the varsity Bearden Bears were victorious. It was the second year in-a-row that the Bearden Bears finished as the undisputed conference champions as it defeated the Hornets 72-56.

The Lady Hornets finished the regular season with a 23-3 record as it defeated the Lady Bears 47-27.

In the girls game, the Lady Hornets went on a 13-0 run after the Lady Bears tied the game at 2. Sidney Pigott forced two early steals and turned them into points during the run to help the Lady Hornets hold a 15-2 advantage entering the second. Bearden's Latrice Wright found the stroke from long distance and drilled two three to cut the lead down to seven in the early moments of the second, but the Lady Hornets out paced the Lady Bears for lead at the half, 26-14. The Lady Hornets would continue to keep its foot on the pedal in the second half for the win.

Sidney Pigott led all scorers with 18 points, four steals, two rebounds and two assists. Halley Bryant scored 12 points with two steals. Macy Turner scored 9 points and two rebounds and Kaitlyn Wright finished with 8 points, three assists and two rebounds. Latrice Wright led the Lady Bears with 14 points (4/6 from three-point range). Ayanna Nelson scored 7 points and tallied 10 rebounds.

"Senior night, we were trying to wrap the year up with a win," H.G. Lady Hornets Basketball Coach Chuck Lowery said. "I think this makes them 64-23 in their career. We wanted to just try to keep adding to that. Everybody got to play. Almost everybody scored but they all contributed."

Lowery returned to the school three years ago and in those three years the school has gone through a lot of changes. He lost one of his leading scorer in Kacie Reede to an injury last year and lost another leading scorer in Genus Smith to graduation. Several girls from the Sparkman campus are contributing to the team and had to battle through illness midway through the season. Even with all of the changes, the Lady Hornets have still consistently landed on the winning side of things.

"It was a whole different team from last year," Lowery said. "Our dynamic is made up different. We've won a lot of games and had to scratch and claw through a lot this year. Last year we were pretty comfortable in a lot of them. So I've just been real proud of this group. We probably shouldn't have even been in some of the games but we just fought our way through them and pulled them out. "

After a bucket from H.G. senior Hunter "Sharp Shooter" Sharp, the Hornets opened with momentum and went up 9-5 before the Bears responded with a 10-0 run to close out the first. With about three minutes left in the half, Bearden put in its speed lineup in an attempt to run H.G. down but the home team was able to stay within five possessions only trailing 35-25 at the half. The Bears led by as many as 19 points in the second half before H.G. chipped away after the Pierce brothers - Johnny and Brian - combined for three threes in the fourth quarter to cut the lead back to nine. However, the Bears started to hit its free throws after several misses late in the game and grow its lead to 16 points for the win.

Bearden's Tyler Berry was the game leader and tallied a double-double with 25 points, 11 rebounds, five assists and three steals. Dee Hughes registered 16 points, four assists, four rebounds and five steals. Robert Miller scored 12 points, two rebounds and a block. Lavarious Hughes and Kevin Martin combined for 18 points. Garret McWhorter added two points, two rebounds and two blocks in limited minutes.

H.G. was lead by Xaylon Falls who scored 12 points despite being shadowed by the Bearden Bears on defense. Pacardo Thomas scored 10 points to go along with four rebounds. Johnny Pierce added 8 points, all of which came in the fourth quarter.

"Our style, run and gun and getting in everyone's grill eventually some of your main guys are going to wear down," Bearden Head Coach Anthony Hammonds said. "Sometimes you might give up a big lead. But you cant afford to get into a zone against a team like H.G. Both the Pierces and Thomas can light it up. We didn't want to take a chance."

This year, the Bears have more depth. Freshman Kendrick Juniel has moved up to varsity and Cam'Rom Byes was described as "scrappy" by Hammonds.

"Not to mention R.J. Miller coming in for Garret McWhorter," Hammonds added. "Either one of them in the game, I don't have to worry about nothing."

Hammonds said his team still has to figure out a way to attack the zone as it gets ready for tournament play and not rely on jump shots.

Hammonds and Bearden Assistant Coach Williams Bud Chambliss are both Bearden alumni, so when asked how it sounds to be called two-time undisputed champions Chambliss enthusiastically said, "it rolls right off the tongue."

"The hallways are always fun," Chambliss added to describe how much the Bearden students and faculty is encouraging the team.

Hammonds said he considers himself fortunate because he knows coaches that have coached for 20 years and have only one two titles.

"It just feels good," Hammonds stated.

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