This story courtesy the Kingsport Times-News - Tanner Cook firstname.lastname@example.org
MURFREESBORO — Snakebitten no more.
All the state tournament demons — despite being so close on numerous occasions — were exorcised by the Dobyns-Bennett boys basketball team Saturday inside the Murphy Center.
The Indians used a nearly flawless overtime period to defeat Bearden 69-60 in the TSSAA Class 4A championship game.
The Indians (33-6) shot an impressive 4-for-5 from the field and 8-for-10 from the foul line in overtime to ice the program’s first state championship in 77 years. The last time D-B won the state title, President Franklin D. Roosevelt was in the final month of his life.
“I felt like we won this game three different times and it felt like it kept getting taken away from us,” Dobyns-Bennett coach Chris Poore said. “Our guys didn’t bow down or give. They just kept finding a way.”
Jack Browder — named the tournament MVP — put together a performance for the ages, scoring a game-high 30 points on 9-of-15 shooting and going 10-for-11 from the free-throw line.
He also grabbed 13 rebounds, several in clutch situations, to finish with a double-double.
Browder’s work in the overtime period will be talked about for generations after he netted nine points and made one of the most clutch 3-pointers in school history with 1:37 left to put D-B up 59-56.
“Jack has been one of our best players all year and he’s stepped up when we needed him most,” Poore said. “He’s gotten more physical on the glass and really improved in more than just scoring. I knew he’d step up big when we needed him most.”
On the subsequent possession after the 3, Class 4A Mr. Basketball finalist Elijah Bredwood was whistled for an offensive foul, the Bearden star’s fifth of the game.
Browder came down on the Tribe’s next possession and hit a layup with 1:10 left to make it a two-possession game. That shot ultimately sealed the deal for the Indians.
“This means a lot,” Browder said. “I have an older brother that played here and my dad was the quarterback on the football team.
“It means so much to our town to do something that we haven’t done in 70-something years.”
The Indians — who had stellar guard play throughout the tournament — flipped the script in the final by turning to their bigs, and Malachi Hale finished with 16 points.
Hale and Browder combined to go 13-for-21 from the field. Hale finished with seven rebounds.
Hayden Moseley nailed a 3-pointer as time expired in regulation to cap a massive rally by Bearden.
The Bulldogs (31-7) trailed 39-24 going into the fourth quarter but turned up the pressure and forced the Indians into six turnovers during the period.
“This group just showed a lot of resilience,” Poore said. “They don’t go down when they get punched. There is so much belief in each other that it’s unbelievable.”
Moseley finished with 25 points — scoring 17 in the fourth quarter — before fouling out in overtime.
Bredwood finished with 13 before also fouling out in extra period.
The Bulldogs shot 33.9% from the field despite a red-hot fourth in which they went 10-for-17. However, their luck ran out in OT when they made only 1 of 9 attempts.
“Any time you’re at the fringe of giving up or picking up, we picked up,” Bearden coach Jeremy Parrott said. “We would’ve gone to the press earlier, but we were already in foul trouble. We were just keeping it in our back pocket until our backs were against the wall.”
As they did in their earlier tournament games, the Indians started on fire, hitting their first three shots and jumping to an 8-2 lead.
D-B shot 5-for-12 in the first quarter when the Indians were enjoying the Jonavan Gillespie and Browder show. Bredwood picked up his second foul with 3:22 left in the opening period and Bearden was having a tough time without its star on the floor.
The second quarter was much of the same for the Indians, who limited the Bulldogs to 5-of-11 shooting and forced three turnovers.
In a splendid first half, Browder scored 12 points on 5-of-7 shooting from the floor and hit a big 3-pointer from the corner in front of the press row.
FOR THE TROPHY CASE
The state title is D-B’s first in one of the “big three” sports since the Indians won the 1964 football championship.
“Being from Upper East Tennessee, we don’t get any recognition at all,” Browder said. “Bearden won a few years ago, but everything past Knoxville doesn’t get recognition. We kept that on the inside and we played well as the underdog.”