After a blowing out two-time defending state champion GPS Friday evening, Coach Jason Reuter’s Bearettes had to battle down to the wire to earn a spot in the title game with a 72-65 win over Alcoa Saturday evening.
With a pair of 6-foot-2 post players, very rarely does Bradley have a height disadvantage when it walks onto the court, but that will be the case this afternoon when the Bearettes square off against Hamilton Heights for the title.
The Lady Hawks are an international team with players from Europe, South America and Africa, four of whom are 6-foot-3 or taller.
Coach by former Charleston High standout Keisha (Stone) Hunt, the private school from Chattanooga defeated Bearden and East Hamilton to earn its spot in the finals.
Today’s action will tip off at 11:30 this morning as Brainerd and Oak Ridge battle for seventh place, before Bearden and GPS tangle in the fifth-place game at 1:15.
Third place is up for grabs when East Hamilton and Alcoa tangle at 3 p.m., with the Bearettes and Lady Hawks to contest the championship at 4:45.
Bearettes 72, Alcoa 65
Bradley came out strong Saturday, putting 27 points on the scoreboard in the first eight minutes for a nine-point advantage, but the Tornadoes responded by shooting the lights in the first half, hitting 7-of-10 3-pointers to trim the difference to a single point at the half.
The Bearette defense was able to help quell the storm after the intermission as Alcoa made just 3-of-12 long-range bombs in the second half.
Bradley was able to hand the Tornadoes their first loss in four games this season with a 30-24 scoring edge in the final 16 minutes.
The victors got a monster game from 6-foot-2 junior Brooke Copeland who posted a double-double with a game-high 29 points and a dozen rebounds. She sank 11-of-20 shots from the field and 7-of-8 free throws, plus blocked a pair of shots.
The other half of the Bearette’s “Twin Towers,” Rebecca Reuter, also a 6-foot-2 junior, was a perfect 6-for-6 from the field on her way to 15 points, plus she pulled down eight rebounds and dished out five assists.
Senior Brandi Whitted had a strong showing with 11 points, including a pair of 3s, plus she dished off five helps as well. Junior transfer Whitney Donaldson also handed out five assists to go along with her five points, while seniors Kayla Withrow and Baylee Carroll had a half dozen points apiece.
Bradley (2-0) won the battle of the boards by a 39-14 margin, plus shot 64 percent (23-of-36) from inside the arc and made 3-of-9 from beyond it. As a team the Bearettes also made 17-of-25 free throws, handed out 22 assists and turned the ball over 17 times.
Along with making 10-of-22 3-pointers, Alcoa (3-1) was 13-of-25 on two-pointers, 6-for-11 at the charity stripe and had 15 turnovers.
Katie Stubblefield sank a trio of treys on her way to 23 points to lead the Tornadoes, while Tara Shields canned five bombs for 15 points. Kayla Newman also had a pair of 3s on her way to 16 points in the contest.
Hamilton Heights 60
East Hamilton 39
The Lady Hawks couldn’t get more balanced in their offensive attack as five players scored in double figures, all within two points of each other in their semifinal victory Saturday.
Hamilton Heights got a dozen points from 6-foot-3 senior Teodora Zagorac and classmate Jovana Stojanovic.
Junior Augusta Kievisaite and senior Ima-Obong Akpan helped out with 11 points apiece, while 6-foot-4 Western Kentucky commitment Ruta Savickaite netted 10.
East Hamilton senior point guard Jessica Caudle led all scorers with 18 points, while junior transfer Juliette Harp found the bottom of the nylon for nine.
Friday’s opening round
Bearettes 59, GPS 22
In a rematch of last year’s tournament title game, the hosts were able to exact some revenge for their lone loss during the regular season.
After a competitive opening period, Bradley held two-time state champ Girls Preparatory School to just a pair of early second-quarter baskets, a trio of free throws and a field goal from the wing with just over a minute remaining in the contest.
The 38-9 run saw the girls from Chattanooga score just four points in both the second and fourth frames and a lone free throw in the third period.
Meanwhile the Bearettes’ balanced scoring attack saw nine of the dozen player get into the scoring column.
Rebecca Reuter led the way with 11 points, plus she cleaned the glass for nine rebounds, while Brooke Copeland helped out with eight points and eight caroms, plus blocked a pair of shots.
“Our big girls (both 6-foot-2) dominated inside,” assessed Bradley coach Jason Reuter. “They (GPS) started packing it in on us, then our outside shooters started making them pay. I think we gave people a little peek of what kind of team we’re going to be this year.”
New point guard Whitney Donaldson had 10 points, with a pair of 3-pointers and 4-for-4 from the free-throw line, plus she grabbed four rebounds, two steals and an assist in her Bearette debut.
“Whitney (Donaldson) has only had 17 practices with us. She stepped in and did a great job,” coach Reuter said of the transfer from Morristown.
Senior wings Kayla Withrow and Brandi Whitted were impressive in their first varsity starts with eight and seven points respectively. Withrow drilled a pair of treys, while Whitted sank one as well, plus dished out five assists, snatched four boards, copped a pair of steals and blocked a shot.
“Kayla (Withrow) and Brandi (Whitted) did a good job for us tonight,” praised coach Reuter. “Whitted had a lot of second and third efforts in the paint. She’s not afraid to get in there and mix it up with the big girls.”
Freshman Taelor Hill came off the bench in her varsity debut to hit 3-of-6 field goals, plus pull down four rebounds, three of which came off the offensive glass.
Senior “sixth-man” Baylee Carroll led the team with four steals, plus cleared three caroms.
Bradley dominated the backboard battle by a 43-17 margin, plus swiped 14 steals in the season-opening victory. Along with being a perfect 9-for-9 at the charity stripe, the Bearettes sank 16-of-41 shots from in front of the 19-foot arc and 6-of-19 from beyond it.
The Bradley defense limited GPS to just 8-of-39 (21 percent) shooting from the field, including 3-for-22 in the final three frames, plus forced 18 Bruiser turnovers.
Long Island University signee Brianna Farris was held to just 10 points in the contest, but that accounted for 45 percent of the Bruiser offense.
GPS defeated the Bearettes 53-33 in last year’s tournament championship game, but Friday’s 37-point loss mark the first time the Bruisers were on the short end of a running clock since March of 2005.
“They (GPS) lost a lot from last year’s team (three Division I players — two basketball, one soccer), but we lost a lot too (five college scholarship players),” coach Reuter proclaimed. “We had better talent coming back, plus our depth made a difference tonight.”
Alcoa 74, Brainerd 45
After defeating McMinn Central in their season opener, the Lady Tornadoes had little trouble with the Lady Panthers in Friday’s opening round, jumping out to an 18-point halftime advantage before putting the game away with 32-21 run in the final two frames.
Alcoa had a trio of players score in double figures — Hannah Troutt (14), Hannah Tate (10 and Tara Shields (10).
Brainerd’s Anisha Douglas led all scorers with 19 points, while teammate Jamee Ward netted 11.
Hamilton Heights 49, Bearden 45
After falling in an early eight-point hole, the international girls from the Chattanooga private school bounced back to win the final three periods by a 41-27 margin to hand the Knoxville squad its first loss of the season.
Savickaite led the Lady Hawks with 16 points, while Zagorac netted 13 and Stojanovic added 11 to the winning total.
Bearden’s Erica Walsh drilled four 3-pointers as she led all scorers with 22 points, 13 of which came in the opening period.
East Hamilton 46, Oak Ridge 37
After an evenly fought opening quarter, the Lady Hurricanes held Oak Ridge to a single point in the second frame and built a double-digit advantage before settling for the nine-point difference in their first victory of the young season.
Harp scored all eight of East Hamilton’s points in the second period on her way to a team-leading total of 18. Caudle added 10 points to the winning total.
Oak Ridge’s Whitney Mitchell led all scorers with 19 points, while her Lady Wildcat teammate Savanna Johnson added a dozen.
Saturday consolation games
Bearden 52, Oak Ridge 45
The Lady Bulldogs (2-1) drained nine 3-pointers on their way to the seven-point victory.
Walsh and Lexus Norwood drilled three long-range bombs apiece on their way to 16 and 11 points respectively.
Mitchell once again led the Lady Wildcats with a game-high 23 points, while teammate Kendra Holmes netted a dozen.
GPS 48, Brainerd 38
The Bruisers more than doubled their offensive output from the night before to capture their second victory in three games so far this season.
A trio of players scored in double figures for GPS with freshman Akia Harris netting 14, junior Katie Morgan hitting a pair of 3s on her way to a dozen, and Farris pumping in 10.
Ward led the Lady Panthers with a game-high 18 points, including a couple of treys.
GPS 13 4 1 4 — 22
Bradley Central 18 19 13 9 — 59
BRUISERS (22) — Brianna Farris 10, Harris 6, Stamey 4, Williams 2, Ware, Williams, Jackson, Shuttles, Crownover, Sharrock, Morgan, Spears, Cal. Key, Cha. Key.
BEARETTES (59) — Rebecca Reuter 11, Whitney Donaldson 10, Copeland 8, Withrow 8, Whitted 7, Hill 6, Stallings 4, Delane 3, Carroll 2, Davis, Wright, Pippenger.
3-POINTERS: GPS 2 (Farris 2); Bradley 6 (Withrow 2, Donaldson 2, Whitted, Delane).
FREE THROWS: GPS 4-of-9; Bradley 9-of-9.
RECORDS: GPS 1-1; Bradley 1-0.
Alcoa 18 24 12 11 — 65
Bradley Central 27 15 15 15 — 72
TORNADOES (65) — Katie Stubblefield 23, Tara Shields 15, Kayla Newman 16, Moore 2, Anderson 3, Trout 2, Pate 4.
BEARETTES (59) — Brooke Copeland 29, Rebecca Reuter 15, Brandi Whitted 11, Withrow 6, Carroll 6, Donaldson 5.
3-POINTERS: Alcoa 10 (Shields 5, Stubblefield 3, Newman 2); Bradley 3 (Whitted 2, Donaldson).
FREE THROWS: Alcoa 6-of-11; Bradley 17-of-25.
RECORDS: Alcoa 3-1; Bradley 2-0.