Bradley sweeps ’Stangs for key district wins

By JOE CANNON Banner Assistant Sports Editor
Posted 12/13/16
Both Bradley Central hoops squads trailed just once in picking up a pair of key District 5-AAA victories over cross-county rival Walker Valley Tuesday evening at Jim Smiddy Arena. The Lady …

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Bradley sweeps ’Stangs for key district wins

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Both Bradley Central hoops squads trailed just once in picking up a pair of key District 5-AAA victories over cross-county rival Walker Valley Tuesday evening at Jim Smiddy Arena. The Lady Mustangs scored the opening basket of the girls contest but the top-ranked Bearettes ripped the cords for next 17 on their way to a 77-39 blowout in a battle for first place in the 5-AAA race. Meanwhile, the Bears, behind a career-high performance from senior John Brown, trailed for less than a minute as the Mustangs edged up 8-7 late in the opening period before the hosts took the lead back and controlled the rest of the 50-43 outcome. Bradley will now turn its sites toward the mountaintop with a trip to Cumberland County on tap Friday, featuring a matchup of state-ranked girls’ teams. “We beat them (Cumberland County) by 25 here just before Thanksgiving, but it will be a different story up there,” remarked Bearette head coach Jason Reuter. “They have won six straight since we beat them and that is a very tough place to play. Plus we’ve played nine of our 10 games here at Smiddy Arena. This will be a good road test for us.” Walker Valley won’t return to the hardwood until next week with a three-day event south of the state line, at North Murray County High School in Georgia. Neither boys team came out of the gate strong Tuesday evening as the Bears held a slim 9-8 advantage at the first horn. After the Black-and-Gold scored the first four points of the second frame, the teams traded baskets the remainder of the opening half with back-to-back 3-pointers by senior Ty Beavers and Brown pushing the Bradley (5-4, 2-1 District 5-AAA) lead to 22-17 at the intermission. “We weren’t patient and didn’t penetrate enough early on,” proclaimed Mustang coach Bob Williams. “We settled for shooting far too many 3s and we weren’t hitting them.” The third period was a repeat of the first half with Bradley pushing its advantage to double digits (35-24) as the visitors added just seven points in the eight-minute span. Walker Valley (5-6, 2-2) finally got its offense going in the final frame, using a 16-9 run to close the gap to just four points before Bradley sealed the victory from the free-throw line, sinking 6-of-10 down the stretch. “We knew they’d make a run sooner or later, and late free throws have hurt us this year, but we were able to hit them tonight and close out the game,” related Bear coach Chuck Clark. “I’m proud of my guys. They played well tonight. “We had dropped two (games) in a row and we needed this win. We had a special devotion Monday with our team chaplain. Mikey (Clark) got the guys’ attention and they took it to heart.” “We only had four turnovers in the first half and just six in the game. We gave up too many offensive rebounds in the first half, so we challenged them at halftime to cut that down and we did,” commented Clark. The teams split the backboard battle at 30 caroms apiece, with the visitors clearing 14 off the offensive glass and the Bears 13 on the night. Walker Valley had just 11 turnovers in the contest. Holding the Herd to its lowest point total in 44 games, Bradley copped a half dozen steals, to just two for the Mustangs. Neither team could brag about their shooting percentage as the Bears hit just 29 percent (5-of-17) from beyond the arc and 42 percent (11-for-26) in front of it, while WV made only 23 percent (6-of-26) from downtown and 44 percent (8-of-18) from close range. “We never could get into a good rhythm,” assessed Coach Williams. “They almost doubled us on free throws (20 to 12), which shows we weren’t being aggressive enough. “We played good defense and did a good job of holding Cole (Copeland) down, but John Brown seems to always play great against us, and he did again tonight,” the Herd coach added. Brown put up a career-high 21 points, going 4-for-5 in front of the 19-foot line and 2-of-3 beyond it, plus sank all but one of his eight free throws, including all half dozen he took in the fourth quarter. The tremendous leaper also skyed for six rebounds. “Brown came up big for us tonight,” praised Coach Clark. “Cole had an off night scoring (just five points on 2-of-11 shooting), but he helped us in other ways (12 rebounds, six assists, four steals and a deflection). Brown and (Ty) Beavers picked up the scoring for us.” “I had a lot of confidence going in,” Brown explained. “The coaches have been encouraging me to take more shots. They, and the team, have trusted me and helped me to believe in myself. This was a big district win for us tonight. Our goal is to not lose anymore district games.” Beavers netted a dozen points, including a trio of treys, while senior Trevor Cartwright helped out with seven points, six caroms and a pair of deflections. Junior Lameric Tucker pitched in with five points, a couple of assists, two steals and two deflections. Just like on the football field, junior Kolten Gibson and senior Bryce Nunnelly led the way for Walker Valley, with 12 and 10 points respectively. Nunnelly also cleared 10 ricochets for a double-double. BEARETTES 77 LADY MUSTANGS 39 Despite missing five of its first six shots, once Bradley (10-0, 3-0) got going, it was no doubt where the outcome was headed. Leading by double digits (17-7) at the first break, the Bearettes endured brief Lady Mustang runs to start and finish the second frame with a 12-3 streak in the middle to take a 36-22 advantage into the locker rooms at the half. After pushing the difference to 21 (55-34) by the end of the third quarter, the hosts sealed the contest with a 22-5 scoring edge in the final frame, forcing a “running clock” for the last four minutes. “I felt like we got off to a good start, but then we let our foot off the gas for some reason in the second period,” assessed Coach Reuter. “We had good teamwork and were able to put pressure on the ball and take advantage of turnovers. I think the best stat line of the night was the fact that we had 20 assists to just five turnovers. That’s a very good 4-to-1 ratio.” The Bradley defense copped 15 steals among the 25 Lady Mustang turnovers, getting 18 fast break points and converting 34 points off the visitors’ miscues. “The wheels came off,” proclaimed Lady Mustang mentor Paul Cretton. “We panicked under pressure. Turnovers killed us. “I am proud to see the way we battled back after getting down early. We’re going to keep working and get after it. There’s still a lot of season to go.” The loss snapped a five-game Walker Valley (5-4, 3-1) winning streak, plus the win pushed the Bearettes current run to 10 straight games and 33 home wins in a row. The lethal duo of Rhyne Howard and Halle Hughes once again led the way for Bradley as both topped the 20-point mark, plus sophomore Kimia Carter and senior Kailey McRee helped out with double-digit scoring. Howard, a 6-foot-2 highly recruited junior, sizzled the nylon for 26 points, including four shots from “downtown,” pulled down five boards, handed out a half dozen helps and swiped five thefts. Hughes collected 21 points, moving to within a basket of Bradley legend Rita Hannah’s 1,409 career points and 14th place on the all-time Bearette scoring list. The Lee University signee also drilled a pair of long-range shots, snagged a trio of caroms, handed out three assists and copped a steal. Carter came off the bench for 13 points, five ricochets, a pair of helps and two steals, while McRee collected 10 points, a half dozen boards and three thefts. Macey Clark, Lauren Lay and Emily Anderson combined for all but three of Walker Valley’s points in the contest. Clark drilled 4-of-6 3-pointers on her way to a team-high 14 points, while Lay netted a dozen. Both starters cleared the glass for seven rebounds. Anderson came off the bench to hit 3-of-5 shot from the field for 10 points, plus snagged five boards. Haley Jones, a 6-foot-2 post player, pulled down a half dozen caroms and blocked five shots for the Lady Mustangs. GAME SUMMARIES GIRLS Walker Valley 7 15 12 5 — 39 Bradley Central 17 19 19 22 — 77 LADY MUSTANGS (39) — Macey Clark 14, Lauren Lay 12, Emily Anderson 10, Jones 2, Davis 1, Kile, Baker, Fowler, Gibson. BEARETTES (77) — Rhyne Howard 26, Halle Hughes 21, Kimia Carter 13, Kailey McRee 10, Walker 4, Lombard 2, Morgan 1, Brown, Roberts, Koger, K. Hughes, Mayo, Reuter, Davis, Hullender. 3-POINTERS: WV 5 (Clark 4, Lay); Bradley 7 (Howard 4, Hughes 2, Carter). FREE THROWS: WV 10-of-19; Bradley 12-of-17. RECORDS: Walker Valley 6-3, 3-1 District 5-AAA; Bradley Central 10-0, 4-0 District 5-AAA. BOYS Walker Valley 8 9 7 19 — 43 Bradley Central 9 13 13 15 — 50 MUSTANGS (43) — Kolten Gibson 12, Bryce Nunnelly 10, Westfield 6, Munck 3, Zakkas 3, Johnson 3, Murphy 3, Eslinger 2, Melton 1, BEARS (50) — John Brown 21, Ty Beavers 12, Cartwright 7, Copeland 5, Tucker 5, Duggan, Elrod. 3-POINTERS: WV 6 (Gibson 2, Munck, Johnson, Murphy, Nunnelly); Bradley 5 (Beavers 3, Brown 2). FREE THROWS: WV 9-of-12; Bradley 13-of-20. RECORDS: Walker Valley 5-6, 2-2 District 5-AAA; Bradley Central 5-4, 2-1 District 5-AAA.

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