The Bearettes sputtered a bit defensively in the first quarter while Brooke Copeland provided the needed offense to get the Bearettes out front. The Bradley girls put it all together in the second quarter and coasted to a 57-37 win over the Lady Cherokees.
The Bears battled back from a five-point, first-quarter deficit to trail by two at the half then rallied to take a one-point lead after three quarters. Bradley built a double-digit cushion in the fourth before locking up a 65-54 victory.
“Anybody that wins by 20 is usually satisfied, but if we are going to talk the talk that we are going to be district and region champions, and no disrespect to McMinn, but we didn’t finish them quick enough,” said Bearettes coach Jason Reuter. “We’ve got to mature quickly. We’ve played eight games now, it’s still early but it won’t be long until we will be talking about playing 12, 14 or 15 games.”
Copeland’s 11 first-quarter points kept the Bearettes’ (5-2, 1-1 District 5-AAA) heads above water as the Lady Tribe (1-6, 1-1) had early thoughts of an upset victory.
Copeland finished the first half with 15 points and ended the night with 20. Rebecca Reuter added 11 points to the total.
Leading 13-10, the Bearettes quickly put any thoughts of a McMinn win to rest in the second scoring 10 unanswered points to build a 23-10 cushion. Copeland, Halle Hughes, Reuter, Mady Stallings, Lyndsey Davis and Julia Gaither all added to the inflating Bearettes’ lead. On the defensive end of the court, Bradley effectively shut down McMinn’s offensive thrust holding the Lady Cherokees to eight points.
“Coming off a terrible shooting night last Tuesday all you can preach on is confidence. We shot the ball exceptionally well from inside for two. We were still not great from the 3-point line,” said Reuter.
The Bearettes hit 59 percent from inside the arc but went a disappointing 2-for-14 behind the 3-point line. Bradley did well from the free-throw line hitting 17-of-20 shots. The Bearettes missed their goal of limiting turnovers to 15 by one giveaway.
Reuter was not pleased with the Bearettes’ third quarter offensive performance. Bradley held McMinn to only seven points, but only managed to score eight with the first points of the quarter coming with 4:28 to go.
“We came out with a 15-point lead and went almost four minutes without scoring a bucket. We went about three of those without even getting a shot off,” Reuter said.
“When are we going get where we can come out and run like a well-oiled machine like the Bearettes teams have in the past? We are not going to be able to press everybody this year, but we should be able to wear you out in a half-court game.”
The Bearettes picked it back up in the fourth quarter and built the 41-25 third quarter lead to 51-31 with just over three minutes left in the game before closing out the 20-point win.
“We’re going to knock down some shots. I keep telling my girls they don’t have to hit them all, they have to hit 1 out of 3. If you do that’s equal to 50 percent from two-point area,” said the Bearettes coach. “
“I may seem like I’m hard on these girls and I’m pressing more, but we’ve all agreed we have certain goals and they know they’ve got to play better. The greedy part of this is we won by 20 and know we didn’t play our best. We’ve just got to keep working.”
The Bearettes have the weekend off and will use the time to prepare for Tuesday’s meeting with cross-town rival Cleveland.
“We’ve got a big game coming up Tuesday, if I have to get them pumped for that one then it may be time to think about playing another sport,” said Reuter. “We’ve got to get jacked up for Cleveland.”
BEARS 65, CHEROKEES 54
The Bears found the going tough in the early minutes against the Tribe. McMinn opened a 15-9 lead with just over two minutes to play in the first quarter. A goal tending call on the Bears with 1:03 on the board put the hosts up 17-12.
“Every year when you come to McMinn, it doesn’t matter how good their team is they get up for us. It’s one of the longest rivalries in the state. We’ve played since about 1917. Whenever Bradley comes to McMinn County it’s a dog fight and we know that,” said Bear coach Chuck Clark. “I’ve told these guys and preached it all day Wednesday and Thursday about what it would be like, and it was.”
Clark’ prediction proved to be spot on with the Tribe building a 21-12 lead to begin the second quarter. The Bears cut it to 24-19 with a toss by Ty Morgan. Bradley closed the gap to 26-25 with two more from Morgan and four points from Bradley McCurdy.
Bentley made it a 29-28 game with a 3-pointer with five seconds left on the clock only to watch as the Cherokees threw up a Hail Mary from near mid-court at the buzzer that found the target and give McMinn a 32-28 lead at halftime.
Bentley led the Bears with 13 points. Cole Copeland added 12 points to the win and Logan Cox scored 11 on the night.
“They turned around and threw that 3 up right at the buzzer. Everything was good until right there,” Clark recalled. “That put us down four again and gave them a little momentum going to the locker room.”
The Bears snatched momentum from the Cherokees with points from Copeland and McCurdy early in the third and tied the game at 36-36 with just under three minutes burned off the second-half clock. Bentley gave the Bears their first lead of the night with a tip-in 2-pointer and Bradley held on to lead 43-42 at the end of the quarter.
“We turned up the heat on our press. I got some different personnel in off the bench after adjusting a few things at halftime. I chewed their butts out a little bit and they came out and played a little bit better,” said Clark.
The Bears turned up the heat offensively to open the fourth beginning with a big 3 by Tucker Maroon from the right corner. Cox followed with a 3-pointer from the same corner and put Bradley on top 55-45 with one more trey from the opposite corner a minute later.
“I brought Tucker Maroon in and he hit a huge 3 from the corner. Then Logan Cox turned around right after that and hit another 3,” said Clark.
McMinn made it a 58-51 game with two minutes left to play. The Bears, after a final 2-pointer by Bentley, closed out the night from the free-throw line to seal the win.
On the night, the Bears went 17-of-29 from inside the 3-point line and 4-for-8 from 3-point distance. From the line Bradley was good on 18-of-28 tosses. The Bears pulled down 25 rebounds and committed 13 turnovers.
“We started being a little bit more patient and we were breaking them down as far as their defense goes. We started taking advantage of some of the mismatches we had,” said Clark.
BEARETTES 57, LADY CHEROKEES 37
Bradley Central 13 20 8 16 — 57
McMinn County 10 8 7 12 — 37
BEARETTES (57) — Brooke Copeland 20, Rebecca Reuter 11, Stallings 6, Gaither 6, Brown 6, Davis 2, Delane 1, Summars 1, Brown, McRee.
LADY CHEROKEES (37) — Rachel Simbeck 14, Burke 8, Dispemnse 6, Kelley 5, Wilson 2, Robinson 2, Cornett, Madison, Thompson.
3-point goals: Bradley Central 2 (Stallings); McMinn County 3 (Simbeck 2, Burke).
Records: Bradley Central 5-2, 1-1 District 5-AAA; McMinn County 1-6, 1-1 District 5-AAA.
BEARS 65, CHEROKEES 54
Bradley Central 12 16 15 18 — 65
McMinn County 17 15 10 12 — 54
BEARS (65) — Taylor Bentley 13, Cole Copeland 12, Logan Cox 11, Clark 9, Morgan 9, McCurdy 6, Crisp 2, Maroon 3, Gregory.
CHEROKEES (54) — Rob Saxton 12, Corey Edgemon 12, Martin 9, Simpson 7, Armstrong 6, Hammonds 4, Marshall 3, Spradling, Brown, Hockman, Jones, Cruze.
3-point goals: Bradley Central 3 (Cox 2, Maroon); McMinn County 4 (Edgemon 2, Saxton, Simpson).
Records: Bradley Central 3-4, 2-0 District 5-AAA; McMinn County 1-5, 0-2 District 5-AAA.