Notching their 20th victory of the season, the Bearettes (20-5, 11-1 District 5-AAA) closed out the regular season with its fourth 70-point output in its last six games with a 77-31 thumping of Ooltewah at “The Barn” in Monday evening’s makeup game.
“The girls are buying into what we want them to do. We are clicking on all cylinders right now,” declared Bradley coach Jason Reuter.
The Bears (14-10, 10-2) weren’t so fortunate, as the Owls, fighting for the No. 2 spot in the tournament, took control late in the opening quarter and never looked back in a 75-58 outcome.
“We were going good there in January, then we’ve had a few things go south,” commented Chuck Clark, who was named the District Coach of the Year by his peers earlier Monday.
“It’s not time to panic,” he assessed. “We need to get back to having fun and enjoying the game. It’s not been fun the last little while.
“It’s truly a great honor to be chosen as the Coach of the Year, but it’s really a team honor. (Assistant coaches) Patrick (Spangler) and Drew (German), as well as the players are all a part of what we’ve done this year.”
Having already clinched the No. 1 seeds for the district event, both Bradley squads will now await Saturday’s 5-AAA semifinals.
The Bearettes will take on the winner of Friday’s battle between fourth-seeded Cleveland High (12-12, 6-6) and No. 5 Ooltewah (5-14, 3-9).
The Bears await the victor of Friday’s night cap between No. 4 Walker Valley (18-9, 7-5) and Soddy-Daisy (11-13, 3-9).
Weather permitting, the District 5-AAA Tournament will get underway Wednesday at East Hamilton High School with the second-seeded McMinn County girls (9-16, 9-3) taking on the hosts Lady Hurricanes (4-22, 2-10) at 6 p.m., followed by No. 2 Ooltewah (15-8, 9-3) facing McMinn County (3-21, 2-10) in a boys’ battle.
The Thursday schedule has third-seeded Walker Valley (17-10, 9-3) dueling Soddy-Daisy (6-19, 2-10) in a girls’ game, before the No. 3 Cleveland boys (15-7, 8-4) tangle with the host Hurricanes (6-20, 3-9) at 7:30.
Should Mother Nature cause Wednesday’s games to be postponed, they will be played Thursday, if possible, along with the girls’ 3 vs. 6 game. The boys’ contest between the third and sixth seeds would then be moved to Friday to start a three-game night.
If Wednesday and Thursday get wiped out, the contingency plan calls for six games to be played on Friday, three in each of East Hamilton’s two gymnasiums.
LADY OWLS 31
Scoring the game’s first nine points, Bradley’s girls took command quickly Monday evening and never let up.
Scoring 27 points in each of the first two frames, the Bearettes led by 18 points at the first horn and 39 at the half.
Freshman Emma Kate Brown led the charge with 13 of her career-high 22 points coming in the opening eight minutes.
“EK’ had a great game,” proclaimed Coach Reuter. “She shot the ball well, hustled for rebounds, dove after loose balls. She had a great performance.”
Brown hit 7-of-9 shots from the two-point area, plus drained a 3-pointer, cleared four rebounds, handed out a pair of assists and went 5-for-5 at the free throw line.
With the Bearette bench playing the majority of the second half, Bradley still outscored the hosts 23-16 in the final two frames, the latter of which was played with a “running clock.”
University of Florida signee Brooke Copeland added 15 points, nine rebounds, three helps and blocked a trio of shots in less than two quarters of playing time.
Freshman Halle Hughes came off the bench to help out with 14 points, including three “long-range bombs,” grabbed a pair of caroms and dished out two “dimes.”
Sophomore Katie Brown swished a pair of 3-pointers for her highest varsity point total with nine markers, on 3-of-4 shooting from the field. She also cleared three rebounds and handed out two assists.
Going 3-for-3 from the field and hitting both of her free throws, Middle Tennessee State signee Rebecca Reuter collected eight points, snatched five boards, copped four steals, handed off four helps and blocked a pair of shots.
Carly Brumfiel cleaned the glass for a half dozen caroms, while Julia Gaither handed out three assists in the victory.
“We shared the ball well and had just eight turnovers,” Coach Reuter praised. “We did what we were supposed to do tonight.”
OWLS 75, BEARS 58
Ooltewah claimed second place in the upcoming tournament three ways Monday — beating Bradley, Cleveland falling to Walker Valley, plus the Owls had won the tie-breaking coin toss earlier in the day at the district coaches meeting.
Bradley started out strong, maintaining a three-point lead for the first seven minutes, but the hosts exploded on one of their signature 10-0 runs during the final 60 seconds of the opening period to take the lead for good.
The Owls were able to stretch an 18-13 lead at the first buzzer out to 34-23 at the intermission.
The Bears were able to stay with the hosts in the third frame, with just an 18-17 difference, but Ooltewah turned up the burners in the final frame, building its advantage to as much as 21 points before Bradley was able to trim it back to 17 by the final horn.
Senior Taylor Bentley topped the Bear effort with 16 points, including a trio of “treys,” while junior Ty Morgan had a career-high 11 points.
“We just need to relax and play our own type of ball,” stated Coach Clark. “Realistically we only have three guys, Bentley and Daniel (Clark), as well as (Logan) Cox, who had a few injuries this season, who had much varsity experience before this season, but we’ve played a whole season now, so inexperience shouldn’t be an excuse.”
“We’ve got a few days to get ready before we play again, so we are going to relax some today (Tuesday) and then start preparing to play like we know we can.”
The Owls had a pair of 21-point performances Monday from Ben Snider and Jaymeal Johnson, plus Jarek Boyd pumped in 16 points.
Bradley Central 27 27 10 13 — 77
Ooltewah 9 6 10 6 — 31
BEARETTES (77) — Emma Kate Brown 22, Brooke Copeland 15, Halle Hughes 14, Katie Brown 9, Reuter 8, Stallings 3, Summars 3, Gaither 2, Brumfiel 1, Delane.
LADY OWLS (31) — Corley 9, Baker 8, Cooper 6, Henderson 4, Lemon 2, Taylor 2, Cline, Cane, A. Jones, Thompson, Reed, R.Jones.
3-POINTERS: Bradley 7 (Hughes 3, K.Brown 2, EK Brown, Stallings); Ooltewah 3 (Cooper 2, Baker).
FREE THROWS: Bradley 12-of-15; Ooltewah10-of-19.
RECORDS: Bradley 20-5, 11-1 District 5-AAA; Ooltewah 5-14, 3-9 District 5-AAA.
Bradley Central 13 10 17 18 — 58
Ooltewah 18 16 18 23 — 75
BEARS (58) — Taylor Bentley 16, Ty Morgan 11, Daniel Clark 9, Gregory 8, Copeland 4, Maroon 4, Cox 2, Crisp 2, McCurdy 2, McGowan.
OWLS (75) — Jaymeal Johnson 21, Ben Snider 21, Jarek Boyd 16, Montgomery 7, King 6, Wooten 2, Cothran 2, Strickland, Adams, Williams, Ross.
3-POINTERS: Bradley 5 (Bentley 3, Clark, Copeland); Ooltewah 6 (Johnson 3, King, Snider, Montgomery).
FREE THROWS: Bradley 9-of-16; Ooltewah 9-of-13.
RECORDS: Bradley 14-10, 10-2 District 5-AAA; Ooltewah 15-8. 9-3 District 5-AAA.