With 31 3-pointers smoking the nylon, Senior Night was an offensive showcase at Jim Smiddy Arena Friday evening as both Bradley Central squads put up their highest point totals of the season with the Bears joining the Bearettes as No. 1 seeds for this week’s District 5-AAA Tournament.
Marking the first time since the 2000-01 season, Bradley claimed both the boys and girls regular season district titles.
The Bears held off a determined East Hamilton squad by a 70-60 margin to earn the top district seed for the first time since the 2006-07 campaign, which was also the last time they advanced to the TSSAA state tournament.
The Bradley boys (14-9, 10-1 District 5-AAA) didn’t nail down the regular season title until Ooltewah (13-9, 8-3) knocked off Cleveland (14-6, 8-3) 67-57 late Friday evening.
Meanwhile, senior Rebecca Reuter surpassed the 1,000-point mark for her career as the Bearettes (19-5, 10-1) scored in the 70s for the third time in their last five games with a 78-43 victory. Coach Jason Reuter’s crew secured the top spot for the postseason for the fourth straight season more than two weeks ago with a victory over crosstown rival Cleveland.
Both Bradley squads will make the short trip down I-75 to Ooltewah Monday to make up recently snowed out games before traveling to East Hamilton later in the week for the district tournament.
As the No. 1 seeds, the Black-and-Gold not only receive opening round byes and will take on the winner of the Nos. 4-5 games Saturday in the semifinals, but also automatically advance to the Region 3-AAA Tournament the following week.
The district tournament will get underway on Wednesday with the second seeds taking on Nos. 7 in elimination action. Region tournament berths will also be on the line Thursday and Friday evenings.
The Bears took command early Friday evening, with back-to-back 3-pointers by seniors Logan Cox and Baylor Terrell sandwiching a steal by classmate Dee Crisp before East Hamilton (6-20, 3-9) got off its first shot.
Bradley pushed its advantage to double digits when junior Daniel Clark hit the second and third of four straight long-range bombs to close out the first period and open the second.
Stretching a 21-9 lead at the first horn to 32-15 at the intermission, the Bears drained the first two baskets of the second half to go up by 20 points, but then the Hurricanes picked up intensity and went on a 22-8 run to close the gap to single digits (46-37) when Finley Chacko drained an NBA-range 3-pointer at the third-period buzzer.
“We backed them (EH) into a corner and they came out swinging,” declared Bear head coach Chuck Clark. “Those guys have a lot of pride and talent. They aren’t going to give up just because they’re down.”
The Hurricanes continued their assault in the final frame, draining four more treys and continually sending the Bears to the free throw line to cut the gap to just two points (59-57) with 2:37 left on the clock.
That would be as close as the visitors would come with Bradley going 10-of-12 from the charity line the rest of the evening. The Bears were 31-of-43 at the foul line for the game, including 20-for-27 in the final eight-minute frame.
“While I’m proud we won, I’m disappointed in the way we did it,” remarked Coach Clark, whose team gave up just 15 points in the first half, but 45 in the second. “When you have a team down 20 points, you need to finish them off, but we let them back in it. We quit playing hard-nosed defense and gave up 18 offensive rebounds. We quit doing the fundamentals.”
“If we have aspirations of making a strong run through the district and region tournaments, then we have to go back to what we’ve done to get to where we are,” he added. “We need to concentrate on doing the little things — hustling and playing hard-nosed ball.”
Reaching the 70-point mark for the first time this season, the Bears were led by a career-high 21 points from Daniel Clark, who went 4-for-6 from “downtown.”
Freshman Cole Copeland and senior Taylor Bentley helped out with 14 and 13 points respectively, with the former going 10-for-12 at the free throw line, while the latter was 11-of-14 at the stripe. Both cleared three rebounds, with Bentley also copping a trio of steals.
Senior Sam Gregory helped out with a half dozen points and cleared the glass for seven caroms in the victory.
As a team, the Bears were consistent from both sides of the arc, hitting 43 percent (9-of-21) in front of it ad 44 percent (7-for-16) beyond it.
The Hurricanes put up 63 shots from the field in the contest, making 17 from two-point land and seven from distance, but only got eight opportunities from the free throw line, sinking five.
A trio of EH players netted double figures with Chacko leading the way with four 3-pointers for a dozen markers, while Kenny Burton and James Wright both netted 10 points. The ’Canes won the rebounding battle by a narrow 35-33 margin, while both teams had 14 turnovers.
LADY ’CANES 43
The girls’ game was never in doubt as Bradley got 3-pointers from seniors Brooke Copeland, Mady Stallings and Lyndsy Davis in the game’s opening minute.
The Bearettes scored the first 17 points of the contest and led 24-5 when the opening period was over.
After leading by 21 points at the half, Bradley ripped the cords for 25 points in the third period and forced a “running clock” with the opening shot of the final frame.
Spreading the ball around, 10 of Bradley’s dozen players got into the scoring column as the team handed out 25 assists on 28 made baskets, plus dominated the glass for a 38-23 advantage.
NCAA Division I signee “Twin Towers” Copeland and Reuter both posted double-doubles once again to led the victory.
McDonald’s All-American nominee Copeland netted 27 points, including 9-of-11 free throws and 2-for-3 on 3-pointers. The University of Florida signee also snatched a dozen rebounds, copped five steals, handed out a trio of assists and blocked a pair of shots.
Reuter, who is heading to play for 21st-ranked Middle Tennessee State, pushed her career scoring mark to 1,004 with 16 points on 8-for-12 shooting from the field. The near 6-foot-3 post grabbed 11 ricochets, blocked two shots and handed off a couple of helps.
Davis drained a trio of long-range bombs for nine points, plus she swiped four steals and handed off three assists in the victory. Meanwhile, 5-foot-10 freshman Emma Kate Brown hit all three of her shots from the field, two in front of the arc and one behind, on her way to nine markers, plus she dished out three “dimes” and copped a pair of thefts.
Stallings dished out five helps, cleared three rebounds and copped a couple of steals, while senior Kayla Delane had a trio of helps, a 3-pointer and a steal in their final regular season home game.
As a team, Bradley hit 9-of-22 3-point attempts, plus found the bottom of the net on 19-of-39 two-pointers and went 13-for-18 at the charity stripe.
The Bearette defense caused 27 turnovers, while East Hamilton (4-22, 2-10) got off just 32 shots, hitting eight from each side of the arc.
Maggie Woods paced the Lady ‘Canes with 16 points, including four “from distance,” while Lexi Zachery netted nine points, including a pair of “treys.”
Bradley also swept the junior varsity in impressive fashion as the young Bearettes posted a 69-21 win, while the Bears walked away with a 59-35 victory.
Freshman Kailey McRee paced the Bradley girls with a double-double of 12 points and 11 rebounds, while Sydney Morgan led all scorers with 14 points.
Kaley Walker and Emily Colbaugh added nine points apiece to the winning tally, while Julia Gaither netted seven.
Ty Beavers was the top Bear with a 21-point showing, while Tyrell Pitner added 14 and Swan Parker nine.
East Hamilton 5 12 14 12 — 43
Bradley Central 24 14 25 15 — 78
LADY HURRICANES (43) — Maggie Woods 16, Lexi Zachery 9, Black 6, Caudle 4, Pettit 3, Howard 3, Stovall 2, Denton, Maston.
BEARETTES (78) — Brooke Copeland 27, Rebecca Reuter 16, Lyndsy Davis 9, Emma Kate Brown 9, Brumfiel 4, Summar 3, Delane 3, Stallings 3, Hughes 2, McRee 2, K. Brown, Gaither.
3-POINTERS: EH 8 (Woods 4, Zachery 2, Howard, Pettit); Bradley 9 (Davis 3, Copeland 2, EK Brown, Delane, Summars, Stallings).
FREE THROWS: EH 3-of-8; Bradley 13-of-18.
RECORDS: East Hamilton 4-22, 2-10 District 5-AAA; Bradley 19-5, 10-1 District 5-AAA.
East Hamilton 9 6 22 23 — 60
Bradley Central 21 11 12 24 — 70
HURRICANES (60) — Finley Chacko 12, Kenny Burton 10, James Wright 10, Thompson 7, Sparks 7, Wingard 6, Beach 4, Brower 2, Griffith 2, Lowery, Jackson, Durah.
BEARS (70) — Daniel Clark 21, Cole Copeland 14, Taylor Bentley 13, Gregory 6, Crisp 4, Terrell 3, Morgan 3, Cox 3, McCurdy 3, Maroon, McGowan.
3-POINTERS: EH 7 (Chacko 4, Sparks 2, Wright); Bradley 7 (Clark 4, McCurdy, Cox, terrell).
FREE THROWS: EH 5-of-8; Bradley 31-of-43.
RECORDS: East Hamilton 6-20, 3-9 District 5-AAA; Bradley 14-9, 10-1 District 5-AAA.