The Bearettes (13-1) fell to Millbrook, N.C., on Dec. 29 at the Upward Classic in Roebuck, S.C., 45-38 and were looking to start a new winning streak with the new year.
So far, mission accomplished. Bradley Central jumped to an early lead and battled through a bit of layoff lag to get their second win over the Warriorettes, 55-45, Saturday.
The Bradley girls won their first meeting with White County (12-5) by a score of 67-50 on Dec. 7. The Bearettes were 4-7 all-time against White County before Saturday's win. It was the Warriorettes who defeated legendary coach Jim Smiddy in his last game as head coach of the Bearettes in sub-state play.
Slow, methodical basketball appeared to be the order of the evening as both squads looked for openings underneath. Three-point goals were hard to come by for either team with both sides rattling the iron early and coming up empty.
Bearettes coach Jason Reuter said slow and methodical is not the plan he had in mind for Bradley Central's 2013 opener.
"Well, a win is a win," Reuter said of the Bearettes' performance. "(I have) a lot of respect for White County. They play very hard. If they had shot the ball a little better we might have been in trouble tonight. I thought we had several chances to put them away, but we kept finding ways to leave them in the game."
Brooke Copeland, who led Bradley with 13 points, broke a 6-6 tie with a reverse layup and later added two free throws along with Baylee Carroll to put the Bearettes up 12-6. Rebecca Reuter lifted in her first two points of the night with 12 seconds left in the first quarter to make it 16-8.
Reuter, who scored a career-high 19 against the Warriorettes in the first meeting this season, ended her night with 12 points. Kayla Withrow scored 10 for the Bearettes. White County's Allyson Quillen led all scoring with 20 points.
"Too many times we discredit the other team. White County had a plan. They zoned us, they matchup zoned us and they tried to keep the ball out of the hands of the big girls. If Brooke had shot a little better I think the game would have been over at halftime," said Reuter. "But, that's life. You are going to have ups and downs. We've got to keep improving."
Bradley Central hit on only 2-of-9 from behind the 3-point line and made good on 17-of-32 inside the arc. The Bearettes outrebounded the Warriorettes 27-21 and caused 17 White County turnovers.
Brandi Whitted beat the Warriorettes defense to make it 20-10 early in the second. Kayla Withrow lifted in the first 3 for the Bearettes from the left wing with 3:20 left in the half to make it a 24-12 game.
Back-to-back 3s by White County's Loren Foster closed the gap to 24-20. Copeland added two more for the Bearettes before the half to widen it to 26-20.
White County's Allyson Quillen and Bradley's Copeland captured the lion's share of scoring in the third quarter. Copeland got help from Reuter, Withrow and Carroll as the Bearettes stayed comfortably ahead of the visitors. Copeland's sky hook with just under two minutes left in the third put the Bearettes out front 41-31. Lindsey Davis added a running reverse layup late to send the Bearettes into the final eight minutes with a 45-31 lead.
The fourth quarter opened with a flurry of missed opportunities on both ends of the court.
White County finally broke the string of rattlers with back-to-back 2-pointers. Withrow answered seconds later with a 3 from the left wing to put the Bearettes on top 48-35.
From there, the Bearettes maintained the status quo and closed out the night with the their 13th win of the season.
"I'm not going to browbeat my girls too much — we won the game by 10 points. We know, they know and my assistants know we are going to have to play much better than that, or our season will come to a quick end come tournament time," acknowledged the Bearette coach.
"We took care of the ball a little better tonight. We only had 13 turnovers. But, we've got to execute and we've got to have that killer instinct like we've had in the past. When you get a taste of blood you've got to go ahead and put them away."
White County 10 12 9 13 — 44
Bradley Central 16 10 19 10 — 55
White County (44) — Allyson Quillen 20, Hudgens 2, Cash 2, King 4, Wilson 6, Foster 8, Roberts 2, Taylor.
Bradley Central (55) — Brooke Copeland 13, Rebecca Reuter 12, Kayla Withrow 10, Carroll 8, Whitted 6, Donaldson 4, Davis 2.
3-point goals: White County 2 (Foster); Bradley Central 2 (Withrow).
Records: White Co. 12-5; Bradley Central 13-1.
The Bradley Central boys also notched a victory Saturday evening, downing the visiting White County Warriors by a 58-45 margin. Full details will be in Monday’s edition of the Banner.