That much was evident in the outcomes of Friday night’s girls and boys matchups between Bradley Central and Cookeville.
After losing by 29 in their season opener, the Lady Cavaliers turned the tables on the Bearettes, pulling away in the fourth quarter for a 50-38 upset. In the nightcap, the Bears kept it from being a sweep as they pulled out to a big lead and held on for a 55-48 victory that avenged a 24-point loss in their season opener.
The Bears (6-6) dominated the first half, going ahead by as many as 14 (25-11) with 2:00 left in the second quarter when Ty Morgan made a pair of free throws before settling on a 28-17 halftime advantage.
Bradley took a 12-point lead (40-28) with 2:09 left in the third on a Bradley McCurdy 3-pointer, but the visitors had to hold off a fourth-quarter surge by the Cavaliers.
Cookeville’s Jadon Richmond buried three 3-pointers in a span of 2:41 in the fourth quarter, the final one pulling the Cavs to within six (45-39). They eventually closed the gap to three on two occasions — 49-46 on a Mason Bates 3-pointer with 2:03 left, and 51-48 on a Solon Carver layup with 40 seconds remaining.
But the Bears made 4 of 5 at the free-throw line in the final moments to seal the win.
McCurdy led the Bears with 17 points, while Taylor Bentley added 11. Daniel Clark and Sam Gregory came close to double digits with nine and eight, respectively.
Bates — a Carson-Newman signee — led the Cavs (8-5) with 18 points. Richmond scored nine points, and Will Buford contributed eight points and seven assists.
In the girls game, Bradley Central (9-3) appeared to be taking control late in the first quarter, going ahead eight (15-7) when Middle Tennessee State signee Rebecca Reuter made 1 of 2 at the free-throw line with 2:24 remaining.
But Heidi Smith hit a free throw of her own, and, with 1:01 left in the frame, Toiya Gwynn buried a 3-pointer from the left side to make it 15-11 after one.
Neither team could get any separation in the second quarter, as the Bearettes took a 23-21 lead into the break. But Cookeville began to get some momentum in the third quarter, as Smith drained a 3-pointer from the right corner to give the Lady Cavaliers their first lead at 24-23.
Both teams traded jabs, and Cookeville’s Sydney Bean banked in a 3-pointer from the left corner to make it 28-26 with 3:14 left in the third. Not to be outdone, Reuter banked in a 3-pointer of her own from the top of the key late in the frame.
Cookeville’s Sydney Marek made 1 of 2 at the line with 1:02 left in the third to tie the game at 29-29.
Karagan Turner’s traditional three-point play at the start of the fourth quarter was part of 10-4 run that put the Lady Cavs up 39-33, forcing the Bearettes to go into foul mode. But Cookeville made the most of its chances, connecting on 13 of 16 in the final frame and 21 of 29 for the game.
Bradley finished 6 of 12 at the charity stripe.
Florida signee Brooke Copeland led the Bearettes with 16 points, seven rebounds and four blocks before fouling out with 3:33 left in the game. Reuter added 11 points and eight rebounds.
Marek and Bean each scored 11 points for Cookeville (6-6), and Marek came close to a double-double with eight rebounds.
Bradley Central will now turn its attention to Christmas tournament time, as the girls return to South Carolina for the 2013 Dorman Classic Friday, Saturday and Dec. 30.
The Bears will make their annual trip to play the Maryville event, opening against Fulton Thursday, with the tournament running through Sunday.
Bradley Central 15 8 7 9 — 38
Cookeville 11 10 9 21 — 50
BEARETTES (38) — Brooke Copeland 16, Rebecca Reuter 11, Emma Kate Brown 5, Lyndsey Davis 3, Chelsie Summers 2, Julia Gaither 1.
LADY CAVALIERS (50) — Sydney Marek 11, Sydney Bean 11, Karagan Turner 8, Alison Odom 6, Toiya Gwynn 5, Heidi Smith 5, Zoe Sims 4.
Records: Bradley Central 9-3; Cookeville 6-6.
Bradley Central 14 14 12 15 — 55
Cookville 8 9 13 18 — 48
BEARS (55) — Bradley McCurdy 17, Taylor Bentley 11, Daniel Clark 9, Sam Gregory 8, Cole Copeland 5, Logan Cox 3, Ty Morgan 2.
CAVALIERS (48) — Mason Bates 18, Jadon Richmond 9, Will Buford 8, Solon Carver 6, Trey Bundrant 3, John Payne 2, Hunter Shrum 2.
Records: Bradley Central 6-6; Cookeville 6-6.