The reigning Tennessee Class AAA state champion Bradley Central Bearettes kept several winning streaks alive as they stayed unbeaten this season, routing District 5-AAA foe East Hamilton 68-33 in the championship game of the 21st annual La Quinta Thanksgiving Tournament.
The tournament, which wrapped up late Saturday evening in Jim Smiddy Arena, saw the Bearettes lay claim to their fifth straight championship in the event and seventh in the past eight years.
With Saturday’s wins the Bearettes extended their current overall winning streak to 19 games and their home winning streak to 36. They also upped their winning streak against District 5-AAA opponents to 69 with the victory over the Lady Hurricanes, in the championship game.
Ranked No. 1 in the TNReport Coaches Poll, the Bearettes (4-0) will take on 10th-ranked Blackman (3-2) tonight at "The Jim." For the first time this season they’ll be joined by the Bears (2-0) facing the traditional powerhouse Blaze as well.
Thursday's games at Marion County have been cancelled due to flooding in the Jasper school's gymnasium.
The Bradley squads will entertain private school power Ensworth Saturday afternoon, tipping at 2. The girls game will be a match up of defending state champions as the Lady Tigers (3-0) claimed the DII-AAA crown last March.
The Ensworth boys (2-0) were state semifinalists in 2018-19 with a 20-11 mark.
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Senior Cambree Mayo opened the tournament championship game with a 3-point basket, but then both teams seemed to still be feeling the effects of too many leftovers from Thanksgiving as they plodded through the first quarter and a 12-6 lead for the Bearettes. The Bearettes were 5-of-13 from the field while the Lady Hurricanes were just 2-of-8.
The second quarter would not show a lot of improvement for either team as the low scoring continued, with the Bearettes taking a 23-14 lead to the dressing room at the break.
But, it would be a tale of two halves as the Bearettes went on a 19-0 run to open the third period, with East Hamilton having no answer for the powerful Bearette offense and tenacious defense.
Senior Alexis Barnes opened the second half of Bearette scoring that led to another blowout win.
To make matters worse for the Lady Hurricanes, Miss Tennessee Basketball Madison Hayes, picked up her third and fourth fouls and found herself on the bench for a significant part of the third period.
Before the final horn sounded, the Bearettes proved once again that they will be the team to beat in district competition this season. With their deep bench to go along with their size and skill, it should be another good season for the defending state champions.
Bearette Coach Jason Reuter was pleased with his team’s play throughout the tournament as the Bearettes jumped out to big leads in their first two tournament games, allowing him to play his entire bench and gain needed experience.
“I was proud of the way we played, but this is just round one against East Hamilton. I told my girls that we would not be celebrating over this win. They were a starting player short and we got the jump on them in the second half,” commented Coach Reuter.
“We hang our hat on defense and once again it came through for us. Jamaryn Blair had an excellent tourney and I thought Anna Muhonen off the bench played great for us. Anna Walker (UTC signee) had a sub-par scoring game for us in the final but she scored well in the first two games and was named all-tourney along with Cambree (Mayo), Muhonen and 'Myr' (Blair)” he continued.
With the exception of the Bearettes wins, the other teams were evenly matched, with only one other game decided by more than 10 points.
“I thought it was a very competitive group of teams that came in this year. We had a good tourney and I was glad we could play so many girls. Several of our younger girls scored their first points as a Bearette and that’s always a good sign for them and the team,” he concluded.
Tourney MVP Blair led the Bearettes with 19 points, many coming on driving layups while super-sub Anna Muhonen contributed 17.
Mississippi State signee Madison Hayes paced the Lady Hurricanes with 13, and her sophomore sister McKenna added 12 to account for over half of the Lady Hurricane scoring.
2019 La Quinta Inn
Bradley Central — Jamaryn Blair (MVP), Cambree Mayo, Anna Muhonen and Anna Walker; East Hamilton — Madison Hayes, McKenna Hayes, Dezah Lacy; Campbell (Ga.) — Jameah Alston, Sarah Taub; Richmond Christian (Va.) — Prophet Sheffield, Cherese Lampkins; Mae Jemison (Ala.) — Saniah Parker, Tederia Ashley; Daniel Boone — Jaycie Jenkins; Booker T. Washington — Tramesha Rogers.