The Bradley Central basketball coaches knew scheduling District 6-AAA favorite Stone Memorial this early in the season would provide them with some tough tests. That's exactly what they got Tuesday …
The Bradley Central basketball coaches knew scheduling District 6-AAA favorite Stone Memorial this early in the season would provide them with some tough tests.
That's exactly what they got Tuesday evening in Jim Smiddy Arena.
The Bearettes saw a 25-point early third quarter lead shrink to just a half dozen with just three minutes to go in the contest before scoring their final 15 points at the free-throw line for a 65-55 win.
The Bears were up five with 1:41 to go in regulation, but the visitors evened the game with 32 ticks left, forcing overtime, in which the Panthers took command for a 62-53 win to remain unbeaten on the season.
The nearly four hours it took to complete the two contests saw the local zebra trio whistle 96 fouls, including four technicals and an intentional foul on an inbound play, leading to 122 free shots attempted.
"I've been in over 2,000 games as a player and coach and I don't recall a game where there were that many fouls called," related Bearette head coach Jason Reuter after 56 whistles led to 84 charity tosses in the girls' game.
"I'm proud of my girls for staying focused and overcoming the adversity. I told them before the game I wanted a win, whether it was by one point of 21 and that's what they did."
The Bradley girls will get another strong test Saturday when they travel 20 miles south of Atlanta to take on the defending 7A Georgia state champion Westlake squad in the Queens of the Hardwood event.
"It's a girls only showcase that will have over 100 college coaches there recruiting," Reuter explained. "Westlake is a tradition powerhouse, just like Bradley is, so this is the type of competition we are wanting to play. We want our girls tested. That's the only way to get better."
While the Bearettes are in Middle Georgia for a 5:15 contest, the Bears will be just cross the state line Saturday afternoon at Northwest Whitfield.
"We're having a guys day, playing three games. The freshman at 10, the JV at 11:30 and the varsity at 1," related head coach Chuck Clark.
The Bradley squads open District 5-AAA play next Tuesday with a trip to McMinn County.
LADY PANTHERS 55
After a trio of lead changes and a tie in the opening period, Bradley held just a slim 7-5 edge thanks to a three-point play by Samford commit Anna Walker with 32.8 seconds on the clock. The 6-foot junior netted all of the Bearette points in the frame on her way to a career-high 24 points.
Bradley (6-0) pulled away in the second quarter, opening with a 10-2 run and stretching their advantage to 20 points before the visitors scored the final three points of the half to go into the locker rooms down 31-14.
After Lady Panther Alex Eldridge drilled a 3-ball to open the second half, the Bearettes went on a 13-2, two-minute spurt for their biggest lead of the evening at 25 points.
Not willing to fold, the girls from Crossville came clawing back, scoring 15 of the final 19 points of the frame to close the gap to 46-32.
Other than 3-pointers by Walker and senior Kaleigh Hughes, Stone Memorial controlled the first five minutes of the fourth quarter with a 14-6 run to cut the deficit to just six points before the hosts were able to hold off the determined Lady Panthers, making 15 charity tosses in the final 2:45.
"We only hit 24-of-45 free throws for the game, but we made them when we really needed them there at the end," proclaimed Coach Reuter.
"We let them come back in the fourth (period), but we knew what we had to do and we did it," remarked Walker, who gave Bradley fans a scare when she went out with an ankle injury with 2:45 left in the opening half, but returned after the intermission.
"My ankle is OK. The trainer taped it up so I could come back, but I know it's going to be sore tomorrow."
Along with hitting 9-of-12 free throws and a trio of treys, Walker grabbed a half dozen rebounds, blocked a pair of shots and dished an assist.
Senior Anna Roberts helped out with 10 points, going 2-for-3 on a couple of long-range bombs and 4-for-6 at the charity stripe, plus she cleared four caroms dealt a pair of "dimes" and copped a steal.
Junior Cambree Mayo sizzled the nylon from distance three times for nine points, handed out three helps and swiped a pair of thefts.
Sophomore Jamaryn Blair netted five markers, snatched a trio of ricochets, handed out three assists and swiped the ball twice.
Stone's "tall trees" led the visitors as 6-foot-3 Emma Caps and 6-foot-1 Tessa Miller both netted 15 points.
Miller pulled down 21 rebounds, while Caps had seven. Caps also drained a trio of 3-pointers, while Miller went 9-for-12 at the foul line.
"They (SM) maybe 0-3 but their losses have come to Riverdale who won the state (AAA) last year, Macon County, which was a state runner-up (AA) and us (a state Final Four team)," Reuter remarked. "There's no doubt they'll win 20 games this year and probably their district again. It's going to be tough when we go play them up there (Jan. 19) and we'll probably see them again in the region."
Bradley came out of the gate strong, netting the game's first five points, but the visitors answered with a 10-2 run to take the lead. The hosts were able to return the favor, scoring 11 of the final 13 points of the period for an 18-12 edge.
Stone (4-0) used a 14-9 edge in the second frame to trim the difference to a single point (27-26) at the intermission.
The third period saw the teams trade the lead four times, with the Bears going up by seven at one point, before Justin Headrick drilled his third 3-pointer of the night with four ticks left in the third quarter to pull the Panthers back with a bucket at 41-39.
Although the Cumberland Mountain boys tied the game to start the fourth frame, Bradley (1-1) went back up by five twice, on a three-point play by senior Tyler Ferguson with 3:02 remaining and when sophomore Tray Curry dropped in a drive with 1:41 on the clock.
The Panthers were able to take advantage of four Bear miscues down the stretch to even the score and force the extra period.
After Bradley missed the first shot of the overtime, Stone's Zach Boyd hit his only attempt of the night with a 3-ball from the corner. After the 6-foot-5 Headrick blocked a shot at the other end, Brett Newcombe, who netted a game-high 20, put in a pair of free throws for a five-point Panther lead with 126 seconds left.
With Bradley forced into a fouling situation to try to get back in it, Stone made 7-of-8 freebies to seal the win.
"The key is to get to the end," Coach Clark stated. "Coach (Patrick) Spangler said it best at halftime and again at the end of regulation — 'every possession means something.'
"We're going to get better. We talk about the ceiling for us is really good. We've got nowhere to go but up with these guys.
"We're a very young team (starting two sophomores and a freshman) with a lot of enthusiasm. I like the makeup of the team," he added.
"Make no mistake that's a really good team (SM) over there. They beat Riverdale, which finished in the semifinals of the state last year and didn't lose anybody. And they (SM, which won 18 games and went to the Sectionals last year) didn't lose anybody.
"We had 30 turnovers that was the key," Clark assessed. "This will be a great game to learn from. We'll watch the film together tomorrow and learn some things that we need to do going forward."
Curry was the lone Bear to net double figures, scoring 10, hitting 2-of-3 from both sides of the arc. The 6-foot-5 swingman also grabbed four rebounds and blocked a shot.
Juniors Saylor Clark and Antonnio Whaley both pumped in nine points, with Clark clearing seven boards, plus dishing an assist and copping a steal, while Whaley's scores came on three long-range bombs.
Ferguson finished with seven points, three caroms and a pair of blocks, while sophomore Mason Rothwell dropped in a half dozen markers, grabbed five ricochets and dealt a trio of helps. Junior Ashton Boyd drilled in a pair from downtown for six points.
Headrick finished with 19 points, eight rebounds and a pair of blocks for the Panthers.
Stone Memorial591823 — 55
Bradley Central7241519 — 65
LADY PANTHERS (55) — Tess Miller 15, Emma Caps 15, Emmly Boyd 9, Alex Eldridge 8, Buck 6, Roark 2, Adkisson, Freitag, Goss.
BEARETTES (65) — Anna Walker 24, Anna Roberts 10, Cambree Mayo 9, Barnes 6, Blair 5, Williams 4, Lombard 4, Hughes 3, Reuter, Carman.
3-POINTERS: SM 4 (Caps 3, Eldridge): BC 9 (Walker 3, Mayo 3, Roberts 2, Hughes).
FREE THROWS: SM 27-of-39: BC 24-of-45.
RECORDS: Stone Memorial 0-3: Bradley Central 6-0.
Stone Memorial121413914 — 62
Bradley Central189147 5 — 53
PANTHERS (62) — Brett Newcombe 20, Justin Headrick 19, Zach Street 10, Coudriet 4, Eldridge 4, Boyd 3, Vanwinkle 2, Cox, McCoy.
BEARS (53) — Tray Curry 10, Saylor Clark 9, Antonnio Whaley 9, Tyler Ferguson 7, Boyd 6, Rothwell 6, Berry 5, Greene 1, McCleary, Wesley.
3-POINTERS: SM 5 (Headrick 3, Boyd, Street): BC 7 (Whaley 3, Curry 2, Boyd 2).
FREE THROWS: SM 21-of-25: BC 8-of-13.
RECORDS: Stone Memorial 4-0: Bradley Central 1-1.
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