SODDY-DAISY — Even if Ty Beavers was making his first postseason start, Bradley Central’s senior guard came through in crunch time in a must-win scenario Thursday night, during quarterfinal …
SODDY-DAISY — Even if Ty Beavers was making his first postseason start, Bradley Central’s senior guard came through in crunch time in a must-win scenario Thursday night, during quarterfinal action in the District 5-AAA Tournament at Soddy-Daisy High School.
Against a scrappy parliament of Owls from Ooltewah, who gave the Bears all they could handle for the second time in the past six days, Beavers poured in 10 of his team-high 17 points in the final quarter.
It was a heroic come-from-behind effort which not only keyed a 43-33 victory to advance third-seeded Bradley to the district semifinals against East Hamilton, the No. 2 seed, Saturday night at 7:30, but one that also clinched the program’s 37th straight region tournament berth. Not to mention, it was the Bears’ seventh straight win.
“In the fourth quarter I knew it was either do or die,” Beavers said. “We had to pick it up because it could have been our last. I just got a sense of frustration and drive and it kind of took over. We all picked it up late.”
While it was Beavers’ teammates who mobbed him for the majority of the final eight minutes, he provided relief to his head coach, who has been battling a bacterial infection this week.
“I am grateful our guys stepped up and made a few more plays late,” said Bradley Central head coach Chuck Clark. “You need to have pride in your school, team and program, but now it’s a sense of relief we get to go to the region tournament. It’s a survive and advance time now.”
Entering the fourth quarter the Owls (9-15) looked to have a strong chance to land a major upset as the sixth seed. Cam Chambers had poured in 14 of his game-high 18 points and Ooltewah held a 23-21 lead.
Meanwhile, the Bears (18-8) had missed their first dozen shots from beyond the 3-point line and John Brown was still not 100 percent, limiting his capability on the offensive end.
Despite the gaudy results from long-range in a gym with a deep backdrop on both sides of the court, one of the Bears’ two lethal threats from “downtown” still remained ready to shoot.
Instead of remaining flat-footed, Beavers, with a defender in his face, managed to knock down a 3-point jumper from the left corner in front of Bradley’s bench for a 28-25 lead with 6:30 to play.
“In the first quarter I missed a lot of 3s and got down on myself,” said Beavers, who shook off a slow start to shoot 7-of-14 overall from the field. “I am thankful that I finally hit one. I am thankful that a freshman teammate of mine in Saylor Clark saw me and gave me the pass. It’s awesome when we work the ball around like that.”
Even if it was the lone three between either team, Beavers’ teammates knew it was big and so did the Black and Gold fan base who was well traveled.
“Ty always has the green light and he knows that,” noted Coach Clark. “He is a senior and this means so much to him. It was a hard-fought game. Ooltewah has come a long way and they are well coached.”
Helping close out a 22-point fourth quarter for the Bears, who failed to score in double figures in any other quarter, Beavers added an old-fashioned 3-point play, and two layups over the final four minutes. His swipe and score from three quarters downcourt provided a 39-33 lead with 24.9 seconds before the final buzzer.
UT-Chattanooga football signee Cole Copeland did not score at will, but was impactful in several other ways as the three-time District 5-AAA Player of the Year finished with 14 points, nine rebounds, four steals, three assists and two blocks.
Junior guard Lameric Tucker and John Brown combined for 10 points, seven assists and five steals, while each hit a pair of free throws in the final 10 seconds.
Brown came up with one of his three assists to Beavers for a layup in the second quarter, and then stole one of his three passes for a layup to go ahead 15-11 with two minutes left in a low-scoring first half.
“For a lot of our guys it was their first postseason start,” Clark said. “However, a lot of them also played minutes in the four-overtime game at Cleveland last year. They are not scared of the spotlight. Both teams played on edge. It was kind of a crazy game. It was so slow.”
Bradley finished 14-of-40 from the field (.350) and made 14-of-20 from the charity stripe.
After splitting the regular season with East Hamilton, with a 68-60 loss at home Jan. 24 and a 72-66 win on the road Feb. 6, the Bears will look for their eighth straight win to get to the district championship game.
Copeland has scored a combined 71 points against the Hurricanes (20-9) this season, while many others hope to provide a crucial spark.
“We know that being a Bear, we have rich tradition,” Beavers said. “Like Coach Clark says, ‘It’s in our DNA.’ We are Bradley, and we are supposed to play well in the district, go to region and hopefully host substate. We get to play Saturday. We are not done yet.”
Ooltewah 9 4 10 10 — 33
Bradley Central 9 6 6 22 — 43
OWLS (33) — Cam Chambers 18, Taylor 8, C. Morgan 3, Braden 2, McReynolds 2, Kendricks, T. Morgan, Walker, Henry
BEARS (43) — Ty Beavers 17, Cole Copeland 14, Tucker 6, Brown 4, Duggan 2, Clark, Cartwright.
3-POINTERS: Ooltewah 0; Bradley Central 1 (Beavers).
FREE THROWS: Ooltewah 7-of-14; Bradley Central 14-of-20.
RECORDS: Ooltewah 9-15; Bradley Central 18-8.
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