The Bradley Central Bears failed to capitalize down the stretch against Hardin Valley Wednesday night, as they lost by a mere five points in a 64-59 heartbreaker.
In their second game of the MurMaid Mattress Thanksgiving Classic, the Bears missed numerous free-throw attempts and layups, which in the end could have given head coach Chuck Clark and his team the victory.
“We missed too many free throws and layups in the fourth, we also shot 35 percent from the field and 67 percent from the free-throw line for the game. You aren’t going to beat many teams when you shoot like that,” Clark said.
The Bears were able to hang tough for a majority of the game, and even held the lead as the buzzer sounded at the end of the second and third quarters.
Early on, Bradley relied heavily on Baylor Terrell, Tucker Maroon and Cole Copeland to shoulder the offensive load. They accounted for 18 of the 26 Bradley first-half points.
On the defensive end of the floor, the Bears continued to play energy-driven scrappy defense. It is style of play that has been the calling card for Clark’s team in the early season.
“Our defense all around is pretty dang good. We bust our tails on every single play. We don’t rebound well, because our tallest guy in the post is only 6-foot-2. We are short but we fight, scratch and claw for every ball,” Clark said.
Heading into the second half, the Bears would see their 26–24 lead evaporate quickly, as the Hawks from Hardin Valley went on a quick 7–0 run to take the lead.
Both team would trade baskets for the remainder of the quarter, and the score would be in Bradley’s favor heading into the fourth.
The final quarter would prove the age-old basketball notion that if you make easy shots and play suffocating defense, you will win.
The Bradley Bears failed to capitalize on this notion, as they were outscored 20–9 in the final frame.
“For the most part we have only two seniors playing a majority of the minutes in the fourth quarter; our other guys were either playing JV or middle school ball last year and are inexperienced in close games,” Clark said.
The Bears’ inexperience proved to be their undoing in the end, as the Hawks went on a key three minute 11–0 run, which swayed the momentum in their favor for the rest of the game.
“We have to take advantage of every easy opportunity that is handed to us, because if we don’t we will have a lot more games like the one we had tonight,” Clark said.
The Bears will have six days to prepare for their next opponent, as they will look to improve from their Wednesday night loss when they travel to Walker Valley and take on the Mustangs on Dec. 3.
BEARS 59, HAWKS 64
Bradley Central 14 12 19 9 — 59
Hardin Valley 17 7 20 20 — 64
Bradley Central (59) — Tucker Maroon 13, Baylor Terrell 10, Ty Morgan 9, Taylor Bentley 9, Cole Copeland 8, Daniel Clark 6, Logan Cox 4.