Friday night they were able to get a good night’s rest.
“Our girls have been waiting on this game from the time we left the gym at Walker Valley (after a 45-38 loss on Dec. 3),” declared head coach Jason Reuter after his Bearettes exorcised that demon with a 58-41 win over the county-rival Lady Mustangs at Jim Smiddy Arena.
“No offense to Walker Valley, but we beat ourselves up there (at ‘The Stable’),” he proclaimed of the outcome that snapped a 40-game district winning streak. “We couldn’t make a layup or hit a 3-pointer (2-of-24). We turned the ball over too many (21) times. It was a slow death.”
Friday’s victory moves Bradley (13-5, 6-1) into the District 5-AAA lead alone, while the Lady Mustangs (11-6, 5-2) slipped into a tie for second place with McMinn County (5-14, 5-2), which beat them in their first meeting of the season.
Both local squads will be back in district action Tuesday evening as the Bearettes host McMinn County, while the Lady Mustangs entertain Ooltewah.
Neither team got off to a strong start before the capacity crowd of nearly 2,000 at Smiddy Arena Friday evening.
Bradley made just two of its first dozen shots from the field, plus turned the ball over eight times during the opening period.
After missing its first nine attempts and falling behind 4-0, Walker Valley finally got going when senior point guard Lyndsey Macon, who is signing with Auburn-Montgomery University this week, copped a steal after a Bearette rebound and put the ball back through the hoop three and a half minutes into the contest.
The “Fillies” missed just two shots the rest of the period while galloping into the lead with a 13-2 run for a seven-point edge at the quarter pole.
Startled by the déjà vu flash back, Middle Tennessee State signee Rebecca Reuter netted the first five points of the second period as Bradley held the visitors to just one basket in the eight-minute span while netting 16 points of its own.
The Bearettes stretched their 22-16 halftime advantage to 17 points in the third period as freshman Emma Kate Brown drained a 3-pointer before University of Florida signee Brooke Copeland caught fire with nine straight points.
The only Lady Mustang points during the 12-minute span of the second period, plus the first half of the third, came from a pair of 3-pointers by senior guard Victoria Jones, who is set to sign with Tennessee Wesleyan this week.
After Walker Valley was able to trim the deficit to a dozen points late in the final frame, Bradley sealed the victory by hitting all eight of its free throws in the final 75 seconds of the contest.
“I’m very proud of our girls. We fought hard and did what we had to do to win,” declared Coach Reuter. “Once we finally got going, we had a good rhythm to the game.”
“There are no secrets here. You have to just out work people,” he added.
Copeland had a monster game, netting 23 points, cleaning the glass for 20 rebounds and blocking seven shots. The all-stater also made 9-of-10 free throws, while her younger brother Cole, a freshman for the Bears, was a perfect 9-for-9 at the charity stripe in the boys game.
Rebecca Reuter helped out with 10 caroms, seven points and a pair of blocks.
While the 6-foot-2 “Twin Towers” draw a lot of attention, a pair of freshmen came off the bench and stood out for the Bearettes.
Ninth-grader Emma Kate Brown pumped in 16 points, grabbed nine rebounds and copped a pair of steals, while classmate Halle Hughes added 10 points and dished out four assists. Brown hit a pair of 3-pointers and Hughes added another.
“‘EK’ (Brown) and Halle (Hughes) both played very well,” the coach praised. “They are spending extra time in the gym and working on their own outside of practice. They have gained a lot of confidence in their abilities.”
Bradley dominated the glass by a 50-17 margin, and after their eight opening period mistakes, had just three turnovers in the final three frames.
The Bearettes shot 31 percent from the floor, hitting just 15-of-42 from two-point land and 3-of-14 from “distance.” The hosts did sink 19-of-24 free throws.
Ripping the cords for four 3-pointers, Jones led the Lady Mustangs with a dozen points, while sophomore “Kat” Alomar added nine points and pulled down seven boards.
Macon also snagged seven caroms, plus dished off four assists, scored four points and copped a trio of steals.
Walker Valley shot just 25 percent from the floor, making only 8-of-30 shots in front of the 19-foot arc and going 6-for-25 beyond it. The Lady Mustangs were 7-of-9 at the free throw line.
“We got away from our game plan,” remarked Walker Valley head coach Jessica Stone. “We didn’t execute. We didn’t box out and rebound.”
“We’re still good. We have to keep our heads up. There is still a lot of basketball to be played.”
“We have two district games next week and we’re still in the race. We’ll just have to take care of business,” she added. “I’m sure we’ll see them (Bradley) again come tournament time.”
Walker Valley 13 3 15 10 — 41
Bradley Central 6 16 22 14 — 58
LADY MUSTANGS (41) — Victoria Jones 12, Kathaleen Alomar 9, Jaclyn Griffith 6, Emilee Spann 6, DJ Mowery 4, Lyndsey Macon 4, Peyton Davis.
BEARETTES (58) — Brooke Copeland 23, Emma Kate Brown 16, Halle Hughes 10, Rebecca Reuter 7, Chelsie Summars 2, Mady Stallings, Julia Gaither.
3-POINTERS: 5 (Jones 4, Alomar); Bradley 3 (Brown 2, Hughes).
FREE THROWS: WV 7-of-8; Bradley 19-of-24.
RECORDS: Walker Valley 11-6, 5-2 District 5-AAA; Bradley 13-5, 6-1 District 5-AAA.