“On the floor I thought we played extremely hard, we executed well and came out with a lot of energy,” Cleveland head coach Mindy Kiser said.
The highly favored Bearettes would crush the Lady Raiders’ hopes of pulling off the upset victory, as they went on to win 56-21.
“I thought we played pretty good defense, you know we held them to 21 points,” Bradley head coach Jason Reuter said of his team’s skilled defense.
The Bearettes won the opening tipoff and were able to get on the scoreboard first with a basket by Rebecca Reuter. Hallea McClendon would put up her own basket as a Lady Raider response. The two players would repeat their scoring, keeping the game tied at 4-4. It wasn’t until Kayla Withrow netted a 3-pointer that the Black-and-Gold would begin to build a decisive lead.
By the end of the first period, the Bearettes led the Lady Raiders 16-6.
The Cleveland girls, who were missing four of their starters due to school disciplinary action, saw the remaining players step up to fill the holes in the lineup.
“I thought Jenna Scoggins did an outstanding job controlling the ballgame. Sarah Crump was big on the defensive end, Bre Ware did a fantastic job on the defensive end, Hallea’ (McClendon) did a phenomenal job, especially early on, defending at the post and boxing out and getting rebounds,” Kiser stated of her team’s efforts. “Anna (Ginestri) was great for us tonight, Kellee Geren is playing through some injuries, and Gabby Saliba came out and did a bunch of stuff that we’ve been working on.”
The Lady Raiders’ efforts were unable to hold back the Bearettes, though, as they never held a lead.
According to coach Reuter, the Bradley girls came out and played with the same intensity and tenacity they have displayed against every other opponent this season.
“Every girl played, and played several minutes. We played pretty unselfish and I think this team understands that getting the ‘W’ is more important than any individual glory,” coach Reuter said of his surging team.
With the home team’s defensive efforts in overdrive, the Bearettes were forced to rely on plays made outside of the paint.
“They packed it in, they obviously didn’t want Brooke (Copeland) and Rebecca (Reuter) getting easy shots. Kayla Withrow drained four big threes in the first half. If you can’t shoot the ball you’re in trouble if somebody packs it in,” Reuter explained. “We were 8-for-21 at the 3-point line. That’s definitely more then we normally shoot because of our two big girls, but they just picked their poison.”
Withrow led her team in 3-pointers for the evening, followed by Whitney Donaldson with two, and Baylee Carroll and Maggie Thompson each with one.
One area where the Lady Raiders outshined the Bearettes was in free throws. The Blue-and-White was 5-of-5, while the visitors managed 6-of-16 free throw attempts.
“We’ve really been working in practice on executing and taking care of the little things,” Kiser commented.” Top to bottom we did what we worked on and what we set out to do. We came out short, but it was a tough game for us.”
Leading the Lady Raiders in scoring was Ginestri with eight points and Scoggins with seven. The visitors were led by Reuter with 16 points and Withrow with 12.
Cleveland is headed to the East Hamilton Classic on Friday where they will play Alabama prep team Central Park.
Bradley plays another district game Friday as the Bearettes journey to Soddy-Daisy. There will be little rest for the Bearettes this weekend, as they venture to Stars Mill, Ga., to play at an invitational. Their opponent is Wesleyan High School, a team that has won the state AA championship four years in a row.
“It will be good for us this time of year to play a top-notch team,” coach Reuter stated. “We play Soddy-Daisy Friday, so I’m not going to put all my eggs in one basket and get ready for a nondistrict team when we still have the district to worry about.”
Cleveland 6 7 6 2 — 21
Bradley Central 16 20 17 3 — 56
LADY RAIDERS (21) — Ginestri 8, Scoggins 7, McClendon 4, Saliba 2.
BEARETTES (56) — Reuter 16, Withrow 12, Copeland 9, Donaldson 8, Whitted 5, Carroll 3, Thompson 3
3-point goals: Cleveland 0; Bradley 8 (Withrow 4, Donaldson 2, Carroll, Thompson).
Free throws: Cleveland 5-of-5; Bradley6-of-16.
Records: Cleveland 12-5 (5-2); Bradley Central 17-1 (7-0).