QUOTE: "We didn't shoot the ball extremely well, but I believe perseverance won us this game. Not giving up." — Bradley Central sophomore Mason Rothwell Keeping the fans on their feet or the …
Keeping the fans on their feet or the edge of their seat the entire game, Bradley Central pulled out a key District 5-AAA overtime upset of county-rival Walker Valley Friday night at "The Stable."
Although the lead changed hands a half dozen times and was tied on nine occasions, neither team could make a run to pull away.
The host Mustangs held a six-point edge midway through the second period as its largest advantage, while sophomore Tray Curry sinking a free throw with 0.8 seconds left in the extra period was just the second time the Bears led by three points.
"This was a 'tournament time atmosphere,'" proclaimed Bradley head coach Chuck Clark after his Bears claimed the 54-51 victory. "Each possession counted tonight.
"I'm not happy about our free throw shooting (21-of-37), and we will work on that, but we made them when we really needed them (5-of-8 in overtime). We were making about 70 percent this season, but we didn't tonight (57 percent)."
The victory helps the Bears (10-6) get back into the thick of the District 5-AAA race, tied for fourth place with Ooltewah (11-7) at 3-3 marks. They are just a game behind Walker Valley (15-2) and Cleveland (16-4), who are tied for second place with 4-2 league marks.
Pulling out a 51-50 win over Ooltewah on a last-second tap in Friday, East Hamilton (14-3, 6-0) is yet to be beaten in conference play.
"This was a good district road win and now we've got five of last six (district games) at home," Coach Clark remarked.
The Bears will step out of district for a pair of road games this week at McMinn Central (Tuesday) and Stone Memorial (Saturday), plus entertain McMinn County (6-9, 1-5) Friday in 5-AAA action.
Walker Valley will take the first half of the week to prepare for Friday's showdown with Cleveland in "The Stable."
"We are still pretty good in the district, but we've got Cleveland, which is playing really well right now, here Friday," commented Mustang head coach Will Campbell.
"There are some things we can learn about ourselves from this (Bradley) game. Some things we can get better at for sure. With our size, we've got to share the ball well and make our shots.
"Defensively I thought we played great tonight. We kept them in front of us," he assessed. "We are halfway through the district rotation. We hate to lose to anyone, especially Bradley, but this is just Jan. 11, so there's a long way to go."
After Curry made the game's opening basket, Bradley didn't lead again until the second half Friday. Walker Valley scored eight of the next 10 points, but only held a 10-8 edge at the first horn.
The Bears were able to even the score at 17-all when sophomore Mason Rothwell put back in an offensive rebound with three minutes left in the second frame, but Mustang senior Luke Wallace answered with back-to-back buckets.
Rothwell was able to cut the halftime difference to a single point (21-20) with an old fashioned three-point play at the 1:17 mark.
WV junior sharpshooter Blake Campbell drilled a 3-ball to open the second half, before the Bears roared for six straight points to vault back into the lead. It was short-lived as 'Stang junior Braden Davis got "a hoop and some harm" on the next trip down the floor.
When all was said and done in the third frame, the difference was back to a point at 37-36.
The Herd stretched their lead when senior Jordan Munck opened the fourth quarter with a driving basket, while drawing a foul.
Bradley answered with a 7-0 spurt, taking the lead on an unbalanced drive by freshman Quante Berry before sophomore Tucker Greene copped a steal and got the ball to Rothwell for a baseline drive and the Bears first three-point edge of the night.
The final field goal in regulation came with 4:46 remaining when the younger Campbell blocked a shot and then took the ball coast-to-coast for a score. He sank a free throw a minute later to even things at 43-all.
The teams then traded free throws, Bradley making just 4-of-8 down the stretch, while the Herd went 4-for-5 leaving the game knotted at 47-all at the end of regulation.
The visitors struck first in the extra frame with a Rothwell free throw, before Munck popped a jumper from beside the key to put the Mustangs up a point with three minutes left.
Bradley senior Tyler Ferguson knotted the score with a free throw 11 seconds later before Davis once again inched WV ahead with a charity toss with 96 ticks remaining.
A drive by Curry with 30 seconds left vaulted the Bears back ahead, this time for good.
After a controversial Mustang turnover, Berry tacked on a pair of foul shots with 23.3 showing on the clock.
Walker Valley was able to get off a couple of 3-point attempts that would have tied the score, but neither found the strings.
The hosts did get a free throw from junior Sam Belau with 1.3 showing, but his purposeful miss on the second attempt failed to hit iron, giving the ball to the Bears.
Fouled on the inbound pass, Curry tacked on the game's final point.
"I knew it was going to be a grind type of game," stated Coach Campbell. "They (Bradley) made some plays down the stretch and we missed a few shots there at the end. It was a good game. Both teams played well."
"We shot a horrible percentage (16-for-38, including 1-for-9 on 3s), but give Walker Valley credit, they played good defense," commented Coach Clark. "Walker has been really strong this year. They play so hard and shoot the 3-ball so well you have to guard them all over the court.
"We didn't shoot the ball extremely well, but I believe perseverance won us this game. Not giving up," Rothwell added. "Glad we were able to come up here and get this big win."
A trio of Bears netted double figures with Rothwell having a near double-double with 15 points and nine rebounds, six off the offensive glass.
Curry and Berry each added 14 points, with the former clearing a half dozen caroms, while the latter copped five steals and dished a trio of assists. Ferguson finished with seven markers and four ricochets.
Walker Valley, which has four players averaging double-figure scoring, had just one with Davis netting 10.
Junior Noah Duprey, Munck and the younger Campbell netted nine apiece.
The Mustangs sank 67 percent (14-of-21) in front of the 19-foot arc, but were just 4-for-19 (21 percent) beyond it. The hosts were 11-of-17 from the charity stripe.
Bradley Central81216117 — 54
Walker Valley101116104 — 51
BEARS (54) — Mason Rothwell 15, Tray Curry 14, Quante Berry 14, Tyler Ferguson 7, Greene 3, Clark 1, Boyd, McCleary.
MUSTANGS (51) - Braden Davis 10, Jordan Munck 9, Noah Duprey 9, Blake Campbell 9, Jake Smith 6, Wallace 4, Belau 3, Duke 1.
3-Pointers - BC 1 (Greene); WV 4 (Campbell 2, Munck, Duprey).
Free Throws: BC 21-of-37; WV 11-of-17
RECORDS: Bradley Central 10-6, 3-3 District 5-AAA; Walker Valley 15-2, 4-2 District 5-AAA.
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