COLLEGEDALE — Continuing to dominate the current decade, the Bradley Central Bearettes captured their fourth straight District 5-AAA championship Monday evening.
Having outscored their district opponents by a 912-500 margin this season, head coach Jason Reuter’s top-seeded squad pulled away in the second half for a convincing 63-38 victory over No. 2 seed McMinn County in the title game at East Hamilton High School.
“We’ve gotten back to Bearette basketball,” declared Coach Reuter, who is now 110-16 since taking over the storied program before the 2010-11 season. “We are a different team than we were at the start of the season. I’m very proud of how much we’ve improved.”
With just two players back with significant varsity playing time, Bradley has posted a 22-5 record so far this season and will play in its 30th straight Region 3-AAA Tournament, hosting either Rhea County or Cookeville Friday evening. The Bearettes have played in 56 of the last 57 region tournaments, with 1984 being the lone exception.
McMinn County will also host a region opener Friday against either Rhea or Cookeville, depending on the results of tonight’s District 6-AAA consolation game.
In the 5-AAA third-place contest Monday, Walker Valley held off Cleveland High for a 52-44 victory. The two local teams will both be on the road to open region play at either White County or Cumberland County Friday.
Tonight the 5-AAA boys will determine their seeding for the upcoming region tournament with defending champion Walker Valley and Cleveland squaring off for the district crown at 7:30, preceeded by Bradley and Ooltewah in the consolation contest at 6.
Girls District Championship
LADY CHEROKEES 38
The girls from Athens came out strong against the three-time defending champions, taking the lead for the first five minutes of the game before four straight baskets by two-time District Player of the Year Brooke Copeland gave Bradley the lead for good.
After the teams evenly split the game’s first 20 points, Copeland put in her fourth and fifth buckets of the opening period to push the difference to 16-10 at the first buzzer.
Although McMinn County (11-17) was able to pull within four points of the lead twice during the second period, when Copeland sank a jumper from the key with four seconds left on the opening half clock, the Bearette advantage was out to 28-21.
“I have nothing but respect for McMinn; they played us tough in the first half, but with a seven point lead, 16 minutes to go and five timeouts left, I felt pretty good going in at halftime,” remarked Coach Reuter.
Bradley came out of the locker room after the break and immediately pushed the difference to double digits as junior Chelsea Summars drilled a 3-pointer to open the second half. After the Lady Cherokees answered with a basket by Keke Smith, the Bearettes went on a 7-0 run and the lead never fell to single digits again.
Holding McMinn to just six points in the third period, Bradley led by 18 points heading into the final frame and then finished off their 57th victory in their last 60 district games with a 17-11 scoring advantage in the final eight minutes.
“It’s very special to win four in a row,” proclaimed Coach Reuter. “We’ve had a tremendous four-year run and hopefully we’ll be able to continue it on. You’d probably have to go back to when Paul Cretton was coaching to find the last time we won four in a row.
“A lot of that success has been our ‘Twin Towers,’ but not all of it,” he said of Copeland and his daughter Rebecca Reuter, both 6-foot-2 players who have signed NCAA Division I scholarships. “Not only have they worked very hard, but we’ve had some really good players along with them. This year’s team has really come on to provide strong play around them, so teams can’t just pack the defense down on them.”
Copeland, who is headed to play in the Southeastern Conference at Florida, and the younger Reuter, a Middle Tennessee State signee, posted double-doubles once again in Monday evening’s victory.
Copeland tallied 26 points, 14 rebounds, four assists and a blocked shot, while Reuter finished with 14 markers, 10 caroms, three helps, a pair of steals and a block.
Like the “Twin Towers,” junior point guard Chelsie Summars also earned All-District Tournament honors after handing out eight assists and scoring five points in the title game. “Chelsea has come back from two ACL surgeries and is playing great,” commented Coach Reuter. “She is doing things she wasn’t able to do in December. She is without a doubt the quarterback of our team.”
Bradley also got strong performances from Halle Hughes and Emma Kate Brown, who netted seven and six points respectively. Brown also pulled down four rebounds and had a pair of thefts.
LADY MUSTANGS 52
LADY RAIDERS 44
Leading from pillar-to-post, Walker Valley raced out to an early double-digit advantage and then held off a late Cleveland run to claim the third place spot.
Hitting three straight 3-pointers to open the contest and another just before the first buzzer, the Lady Mustangs (19-11) built a 19-8 lead.
Both teams netted a dozen points in the second eight-minute span, before Cleveland (13-14) trimmed the deficit by one point in the third frame and two more in the final period.
“It was the good, the bad and the ugly for us tonight,” assessed Walker Valley coach Jessica Stone. “I’m proud of how we battled hard, dove after balls on the floor and were very unselfish on offense; but we still made too many mental errors, plus we turned the ball over 20 times.”
Tennessee Wesleyan signee Victoria Jones led the Lady Mustang charge with 18 points, including five long-range bombs, while junior Jaclyn Griffith drained a trio of “treys” on her way to 15 markers, plus grabbed a half dozen rebounds.
Senior point guard Lyndsey Macon, who is headed to play for Auburn-Montgomery University, helped out with 10 points, six caroms, three assists and a pair of blocked shots. Macon, Jones and Griffith each made the All-District Team, while Griffith and sophomore Kat Alomar were selected for the All-Tournament squad.
Cleveland’s lone senior, Nora Berry, who has signed with Grambling State in Louisiana, and junior point guard Jenna Scoggins netted 12 points apiece in the contest, while junior Bre Ware added 11, six caroms and a trio of steals. Berry and Scoggins were named to both the All-District and All-Tournament teams.
District 5-AAA Girls Championship Game
McMinn County 10 11 6 11 — 38
Bradley Central 16 12 17 17 — 62
LADY CHEROKEES (38) — Rachel Simbeck 11, Wilson 7, Burke 6, Kelley 5, Smith 5, Robinson 4, Thompson, Dispensa, Maddron, Cornett.
BEARETTES (62) — Brooke Copeland 26, Rebecca Reuter 14, Hughes 7, EK Brown 6, Summars 5, Davis 4, K. Brown, Stallings, Brumfiel, McRee, Delane.
3-Point Goals: McMinn 4 (Wilson, Simbeck, Kelley, Smith); Bradley 2 (Summars, Reuter).
Free throws: McMinn 4-of-4; Bradley 10-of-13.
Records: McMinn County 11-17; Bradley Central 22-5.
District 5-AAA Girls Consolation game
Cleveland 8 12 11 13 — 44
Walker Valley 19 12 10 11 — 52
LADY RAIDERS (44) — Nora Berry 12, Jenna Scoggins 12, Bre Ware 11, McClendon 4, Person 2, Moorman 2, Phillips 1, Crump.
LADY MUSTANGS (52) — Victoria Jones 18, Jaclyn Griffith 15, Lyndsey Macon 10, Alomar 5, Mowery 2, Percy 2, P. Davis, Spann.
3-Point Goals: Cleveland 3 (Berry 2, Scoggins); WV 8 (Jones 5, Griffith 3).
Free throws: Cleveland 15-of-23; WV 10-of-14.
Records: Cleveland 13-14; Walker Valley 19-11.
All-District 5-AAA Team
Player of the Year Brooke Copeland (Bradley), Rebecca Reuter (Bradley); Nora Berry (Cleveland), Jenna Scoggins (Cleveland); Victoria Jones (WV), Jaclyn Griffith (WV), Lyndsey Macon (WV); Keke Smith (McMinn), Rachel Simbeck (McMinn), Rachel Burke (McMinn); India Corley (Ooltewah); Hannah Harris (SD); Rhyne Howard (EH); Coach of the Year Jessica Stone (WV).
All-District 5-AAA Tournament Team
Brooke Copeland (Bradley), Rebecca Reuter (Bradley), Chelsea Summars (Bradley); Nora Berry (Cleveland), Jenna Scoggins (Cleveland); Kat Alomar (WV), Jaclyn Griffith (WV); Keke Smith (McMinn), Rachel Simbeck (McMinn), Rachel Burke (McMinn); Hannah Henderson (Ooltewah); Hannah Harris (SD); Rhyne Howard (EH).