Senior Night provided just what the Bradley Central basketball teams needed — a chance to thank its graduating players and a pair of nice victories as they get ready for the postseason."These kids …
Senior Night provided just what the Bradley Central basketball teams needed — a chance to thank its graduating players and a pair of nice victories as they get ready for the postseason.
"These kids (Hannah Lombard, Kaleigh Hughes, Anna Roberts, Kaitlyn Hullender) have given so much to our program," praised Bearette coach Jason Reuter after a surprisingly dominating 70-26 victory over longtime AA powerhouse McMinn Central. "These girls would run through a wall for our program.
"They each have certain talents they've contributed to help us go 121-9 in their four years with the program. The other girls were playing for them (the seniors) tonight. They wanted to make it special."
After an exciting 83-75 win over the Chargers that included a combined 23 3-pointers, Bear head coach Chuck Clark also had kind words for seniors Tyler Ferguson and CJ Wesley. "Tyler and CJ have stuck with us through thick and thin. They have worked hard and been dedicated to helping us any way they could."
The Bradley squads have one more important battle before the District 5-AAA Tournament start this week — a makeup date with archrival Cleveland High Monday at Jim Smiddy Arena.
"Cleveland-Bradley is always fun, no matter what the sport," Coach Clark proclaimed. "It could be marbles in the dirt or jacks and it would be a battle. Both teams have such loyal fans with a lot of pride in their schools."
The Bears (16-8, 6-5 District 5-AAA) need an upset of the fifth-ranked Blue Raiders (22-4, 9-2) to clinch the third-seed for the league playoffs, elsewise they will be the No. 5 seed.
"We will play a lot better than we did last time, I promise you that," declared Clark of last month's 68-48 defeat at Raider Arena.
While Cleveland's upset loss to McMinn County earlier this week took the girls' regular season championship and top seed out of play, Coach Reuter said there is still importance in the rivalry match up.
"Monday means a lot because its Bradley-Cleveland, which is always big. I'm interested to see how my girls do. We had a good game tonight, but we need another one Monday to get us ready for the tournament."
The Bearetes (24-3, 11-0), ranked fifth in the current AP state poll, have already secured their eighth straight regular season crown, but District Coach of the Year Tony Williams' Lady Raiders (15-12, 9-2) will be looking to snap Bradley's 65-game league winning streak.
Cleveland, which is the No. 2 seed in the tournament at Soddy-Daisy, will be trying to avenge a 59-39 loss in early January when they were minus several suspended players.
Both the Bearettes and Lady Raiders, as well as the second-seeded Cleveland boys, have already earned earned spots in the district semifinals Saturday, as well as the Region 3-AAA Tournament the following weekend.
The Bears will need a victory in their first tournament game either Thursday or Friday to join them.
Although it was the 12th-graders honored before the game, it was underclassmen that put on a show for the Bradley fans.
Freshman Quante Berry had the hot hand, sizzling the nylon for a career-high 34 points, while sophomores Tray Curry and Mason Rothwell combined for 31 markers.
After a tight (15-14) opening 5 1/2 minutes, the Bears pumped in the final nine points of the opening frame for a double-digit lead (24-14) as Curry dropped in 11 of his 22-point effort in the period.
Berry took control in the second quarter with a trio of treys on his way to scoring 15 of the 21 Bear points as they stretched their advantage to 43-26 at the intermission.
Coach Clark knew not to relax. "Coach (Doug) Armstrong has been doing this a long time and his teams never quit."
The boys from Englewood tried to turn the tables, pumping in 49 second half points. They were able to cut what was once a 21-point deficit to just six twice in the game's final minute, Bradley secured the victory at the free throw line.
Berry hit 10-of-13 shots from the field, including 5-for-6 from long range, plus was true on 9-of-10 free throws.
The 6-foot point guard who had 30 points in just his third varsity game against NW Whitfield (Ga.) back in early December, also collected a trio assists, plus three rebounds, triple steals and swatted a shot attempt.
Curry netted 8-of-10 shots, with a basket from downtown, plus went 5-for-6 at the charity stripe.
The 6-foot-5 "Power 5 Conference" football recruit also cleaned the glass for seven caroms, swiped a pair of thefts and blocked a shot.
Rothwell drilled a pair of 3-pointers on his way to nine points, a half dozen ricochets and a trio of "dimes," while junior sharpshooter Ashton Boyd drained a trio of triples and also handed out three helps.
Ferguson pulled down seven rebounds and dropped in four points in the victory.
Bradley hit 15-of-30 shots in front of the arc, plus went 11-for-24 (46 percent) beyond it. The Bears also made 77 percent (20-of-26) from the foul line.
Twin brothers James and Mack Thacker lead the Charger attack with 34 and 18 points with the former smokin' seven 3-balls while the latter netted three.
McMinn Central (9-13) also shot well, hitting 12-of-21 shots (57 percent) from two-point land, going 12-for-27 (44 percent) from "downtown" and making 17-of-19 (89 percent) at the charity stripe.
The Bears won the battle of the backboards by a 31-25 margin and turned the ball over just 10 times, compared to 14 for the visitors.
After just a 12-point difference when they played in mid January, Friday's blowout caught everyone off guard.
Bradley broke open a 5-4 lead with a 17 straight points for a 23-6 edge at the first horn.
Although the scoring slowed down some in the second frame, the Bearettes were able to add another 10 points to their lead by the half, holding the visitors to just a trio of free throws in the eight-minute span as they missed all 17 of their shots from the field.
McMinn Central (15-12) did score a dozen points in the third period, but the gulf just got bigger as the hosts netted 23 again and then capped off the night with an 11-5 run during a "running clock" final frame.
"We shot well and that hides mistakes a lot of the time," commented Coach Reuter. "We tied them in rebounding (31-all), but won all the other categories."
The girls in Black-and-Gold only had eight turnovers, compared to 17 for the visitors, plus had an 8-3 steals advantage. The Bearettes also had the edge in bench points (39-6), points from turnovers (24-2), paint points (30-6), fast break points (17-0) and second chance points (10-3).
Samford commit Anna Walker tied her career-best scoring effort with 24 points, sinking all four of her 3-point attempts and both of her free throws.
Senior Kaleigh Hughes made all four of her field goal attempts, including a pair from "distance" for 10 points, while she and Walker both cleared four rebounds.
Senior Anna Roberts went 2-for-3 from the field with a pair of "bombs" and two free throws for eight points, while sophomore Jamaryn Blair helped out with seven points, three caroms, three assists and a pair of thefts.
Junior Amelia Reuter led the backboard parade with eight ricochets and three points, while classmate Alexis Barnes collected four points, four boards and four helps.
As a team, the Bearettes made 9-of-13 3-point attempts (69 percent) and was 15-for-34 from close range (44 percent). Bradley sank just 13-of-21 foul shots (62 percent).
The Chargettes made just 6-of-37 shots (16 percent) from the field and only 14-of-23 free throws (61 percent).
at Jim Smiddy Arena
McMinn Central 6 312 5 — 26
Bradley Central23132311 — 70
CHARGERETTES (26) - Melia Baker 7, Carlie Runyan 5, K. Baker 4, Rule 3, Beaty 2, Smith 2, Buckner 2, Crabtree 1, Davis.
BEARETTES (70) – Anna Walker 24, Kaleigh Hughes 10, Anna Roberts 8, Jamaryn Blair 7, Hullender 4, Barnes 4, Mayo 3, Williams 3, Crittenden 3, Lombard 2, Estrada 2, Reuter, Falcon.
3-Pointers: MC 0; BC 9 (Walker 4, Roberts 2, Hughes 2, Mayo).
Free throws: MC 14-of-23; BC 13-of-21.
RECORDS: McMinn Central 15-12, 9-1 District 5-AA; Bradley Central 24-3, 11-0 District 5-AAA.
McMinn Central14122524 — 75
Bradley Central24211919 — 83
CHARGERS (75) - James Thacker 29, Mack Thacker 18, Jordan Ledford 10, Jack Murphy 7, King 4, Farrar 3, Carden 2, Burns 2, Holley.
BEARS (83) – Quante Berry 34, Tray Curry 22, Mason Rothwell 9, Ashton Boyd 9, Ferguson 4, McClary 3, Clark 2, Greene, Wesley, McCleary.
3-Pointers: MC 12 (J.Thacker 7, M.Thacker 3, Farrar, Murphy); BC 11 (Berry 5, Boyd 3, Rothwell 2, Curry).
Free throws: MC 17-of-19; BC 20-of-26.
RECORDS: McMinn Central 9-13, 6-4 District 5-AA; Bradley Central 16-8, 6-5 District 5-AAA.
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