BEARETTES QUOTE"We obviously had our worst game of the season against the best team
we've seen. We hope that is our low point of the season. We need to use
it as a learning experience."— …
FAYETTEVILLE, Ga. — When playing a reigning state champ, you want to be at your best.
Bradley Central's girls were not Saturday against defending state champion Westlake, at the Queens of the Hardwood showcase in Fayetteville, Ga.
Minus a pair of key reserves and having trouble finding the bottom of the net, the girls in Black-and-Gold suffered their first loss in 73 regular season games, including holiday tournaments and showcase events.
"We played hard, but we didn't shoot well against a really good team that won Georgia's largest class (7A) last year," veteran head coach Jason Reuter said of the 47-35 defeat.
"We obviously had our worst game of the season against the best team we've seen. We hope that is our low point of the season. We need to use it as a learning experience."
The 35-point output was the lowest by a Bearette squad in 74 games, dating back to the 38-31 defeat to Oak Ridge in the 2016 TSSAA state semifinals.
Facing a Lady Lion squad that went 30-2 last season, Bradley was without the services of first-off-the-bench players Alexis Barnes and Jamia Williams.
Barnes, a 6-foot junior post, was in a friend's wedding, while Williams, a 5-foot-4 speedy sophomore point guard, is undergoing concussion protocol after a locker room accident before Wednesday's practice.
The Bearettes must quickly turn their attention away from being held 25 1/2 points under their season scoring average and concentrate on Tuesday's District 5-AAA opener in Athens.
Now 6-1 on the season, Bradley will square off against a 5-3 McMinn County squad that posted a 65-30 league win over Ooltewah Friday evening.
With an intimidating post presence that included a 6-foot-5, plus a pair 6-foot-2 players as well as a trio of quick guards, Westlake (4-0) raced to a 17-2 advantage out of the gate Saturday evening.
After Bradley sophomore Jamaryn Blair evened the game at 2-all 44 seconds into the contest, the Lady Lions roared to a 15-0 run. A 3-ball from senior Kaleigh Hughes, plus a steal and fast break basket by Blair, both in the final 19 ticks of the opening frame, cut the deficit to 10 points.
Although Bradley briefly trimmed the difference to single digits to open the second period, the Lady Lions pushed their lead to 13 twice during the frame.
The Bearettes (6-1) were able to close the gap to a half dozen when junior Amelia Reuter drilled a long-range bomb with 1:40 left in the opening half, but Westlake got two of the points back to take a 26-18 edge into the locker rooms.
Bradley came out strong after the intermission with back-to-back buckets from Samford commit Anna Walker.
After a Westlake free throw, the 5-foot-4 Blair closed the gap to just three points with a shot from among the "tall trees." However, the next seven points went to the Peach State girls, stretching their lead back to double digits.
The Bearettes again clawed back to cut the deficit in half with a basket by senior Hannah Lombard and a Walker 3-pointer, but by the third horn the Lady Lions were back up by nine points.
Bradley managed to get off 10 shots in the final eight minutes, but made just three of them for their lowest period point total of the season.
"They (Westlake) landed the first punch (the 15-0 run), but I'm proud of the way we fought back and cut it to three early in the third quarter," commented Coach Reuter.
Overall the Bearettes made just 9-of-33 shots (27.3 percent) from inside the 19-foot arc and were 3-for-18 beyond it (16.7). They did make 6-of-7 free throws.
"Our shooting was horrendous (25.5 percent overall), but we got off 51 shots to their 40," Coach Reuter related.
"We're getting good looks on our 3s, but we're not knocking them down. I don't know why. These same players hit them in the high 30s (percentage) last season, but they're 15 points below that this year."
The Bearettes have made just 43-of-163 (26.4) long-range attempts as a team so far this season.
Meanwhile, Westlake sizzled the nylon at a 54 percent (19-for-35) clip from close range, plus drilled 3-of-5 treys.
Despite the height disadvantage, Bradley won the battle of the boards by a 34-31 margin, while the teams were almost even in turnovers, 17-16.
Walker's double-double led the way for the Bearettes, netting 13 points and snatching 11 rebounds, plus copping five steals, dishing a pair of assists and swatting a pair of shots.
Blair collected eight markers, a trio of caroms and a theft, while Hughes netted five points, three ricochets and a couple of steals. Lombard posted four points, four rebounds, two thefts and a pair of helps.
With the two key reserves missing, Bradley just got three points off the bench and only eight points off turnovers.
Queens of the Hardwood
at Fayetteville, Ga.
Bradley Central711116 — 35
Westlake (Ga.)179129 — 47
BEARETTESS (35) — Anna Walker 13, Jamaryn Blair 8, Hughes 5, Lombard 4, Reuter 3, Roberts 2, Hullender, Mayo, Carman.
LADY LIONS (47) — Carlyse Hooks 15, Raven Johnson 13, Chaney 7, Freeman 6, Robinson 6, Woodley, Turnage.
3-POINTERS: BC 3 (Hughes, Walker, Reuter): WL 3 (Hooks 2, Chaney).
FREE THROWS: BC 6-of-14: WL 6-of-7.
RECORDS: Bradley Central 6-1: Westlake (Ga.) 4-0.
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