He killed Bearden. Twice.
Jordan Damron petty much lit up the rest of the district, too.
It’s the two Bearden wins, though, that best define the season the Maryville High School senior has unleashed upon his foes.
It’s said big-time players show up big in big-time games, and Damron, the District 4AAA Player of the Year, was never better than in the two epic clashes with the Bulldogs.
“The numbers are outrageous,” Maryville coach Mark Eldridge said. “He’s just put up some super numbers against super teams.”
With the defending state champion Rebels (23-3, 14-0 4AAA) not yet at full strength in early December, Damron rocked the Bulldogs for 42 points in a double overtime thriller in Knoxville, Maryville coming away a 94-92 winner.
Fired up and feisty, Bearden (28-2, 12-2) came looking for revenge in a late season clash at Maryville. Damron buried the Bulldogs beneath 32 second half points, finishing with 35 for the night, as the Rebels took the sequel as well, 73-71.
The two wins powered Maryville to the No. 1 seed for this week’s district tournament, with the Rebels hosting eighth-seeded Sevier County (9-11, 3-11) in a quarterfinal game on Friday. Seventh-seeded Heritage (13-15, 3-11) is on the road at Bearden, with fifth-seeded William Blount (12-13, 5-9) traveling to fourth-seeded Lenoir City (13-10, 6-8) to get things started. Sixth-seeded South-Doyle (11-15, 3-11) is at third-seeded Farragut (22-6, 10-4) in the other quarterfinal pairing.
All tipoffs Friday are 7 p.m.
Tournament play moves to South-Doyle for the semifinal and championship rounds on Monday and Wednesday, respectively.
Damron, most valuable player at last year’s Class AAA state tournament, was a known commodity entering the season. He was also leading a Maryville team with two key components from last year’s title run — leading scorer Kent Basile and guard Tyler Maples — having graduated.
Eldridge expected Damron would be up for the challenge, but nights like the two Bearden games even he found stunning.
“I couldn’t have envisioned some of the numbers he’s put up,” Eldridge said. “No way!”
Damron is dropping close to 20 points per game entering post season. He’ll be a marked man. Opponents are sure to double him. With Maryville’s other four starters — guards Wes Lambert and Ryan Click and post players Jay Reynolds and Aaron Douglas — also averaging in double figures, it’s a risk, though.
Jefferson County tried to double Damron in the regular season finale on Monday. Lambert lit the Patriots up for 32 points in an 84-56 Maryville rout.
“I think we’ve been more solid since Christmas than we were last year,” Eldridge said. “I think we’re playing with more confidence. We’re playing one game at a time and taking it as it comes.”
The Rebels and Bulldogs have likely not met for the last time this season. The remainder of the district field must be accounted for first, however.
“If you start looking past that, that’s when you get in trouble,” Eldridge said.
Damron has been a whole gymnasium full of trouble this season, all by himself.