Bearettes expected to get three-peat
by By JOE CANNON Assistant Sports Editor
Nov 08, 2012 | 1486 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
BRADLEY CENTRAL coach Jason Reuter addresses the District 5-AAA Media Day Luncheon Wednesday, just before his Bearettes were picked by the local coaches and media to repeat as district champions.Banner photo, REECE RUTLAND
BRADLEY CENTRAL coach Jason Reuter addresses the District 5-AAA Media Day Luncheon Wednesday, just before his Bearettes were picked by the local coaches and media to repeat as district champions.Banner photo, REECE RUTLAND
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Girls basketball has always been strong in Bradley County, and according to area coaches and media that nearly century-long tradition should continue in the soon to tip off TSSAA season.

At Wednesday’s District 5-AAA Media Luncheon at the Mountain View Inn, all three local teams were voted by both groups to finished 1-2-3 in the league race this season.

Despite losing a half dozen players who all signed college scholarships, Bradley Central’s girls were picked to three-peat as district champions, with a maturing Cleveland High squad and an improved Walker Valley herd predicted to finish second and third respectively.

“We lost a great deal, especially in leadership,” commented third-year coach Jason Reuter after his team went 32-2 last season and came within two points of making the TSSAA state tournament. “We’ve got two (NCAA) Division I post players (6-foot-2 juniors Brooke Copeland and Rebecca Reuter), but everybody else is stepping into new roles this season.”

“We’ll get better as our learning curve increases and everybody gets used to each other,” he added. “Seniors Kayla Withrow and Brandi Whitted both have been under the radar for us but are good outside shooters that are stepping into the starting lineup.”

Bradley will also be under the floor direction of a new point guard, as expected starter Chelsie Summars blew out her ACL in the final AAU game of the summer, but transfer Whitney Donaldson has moved to town after being an all-district performer as a sophomore last season at Morristown-West. She is just coming back from a torn ACL and wasn’t released to play until the end of August, too late for her to get in any summer camp time with the Bearettes.

Cleveland coach Mindy Kiser will have something she didn’t have in her first season last year — some senior players. “This team hasn’t had any seniors for a couple of years, but these girls have started and played together since they were freshmen. They have matured both on and off the court and taken ownership of the team.”

After going 19-9 and earning the district runner-up trophy last year, Atarah Abdullah-Muhammad, Sydnie Anderson (who has committed to play at Lincoln Memorial University) and Jordan Capron are returning seniors, with junior bomber Nora Berry and scrappy sophomore point guard Jenna Scoggins expected to help key the Lady Raiders success.

Junior standout Qetuwrah Abdullah-Muhammad is still battling through injuries that limited her playing time last season. “She took the summer off, but still missed most of the volleyball season,” coach Kiser related. “If she’s able to be out there it’s a bonus, if not, we’ll adjust.”

Just two years removed from a state tournament appearance, Walker Valley is trying to bounce back from an 11-19 campaign in coach Jessica Stone first season at the reins.

“We only had one senior last season (Jessica Stepp) and we are going to be young again this year but we should be improved,” the Lady Mustang coach remarked. “We had a pretty good summer. I feel like the players have bought into what we are trying to do and they trust themselves and each other more.”

Returning starters Wendy Watson and Lindsey Sotuyo join with Aaliyah Pitner as the only seniors on the Walker Valley squad, while juniors Victoria Jones and Lyndsey Macon, as well as sophomore Jaclyn Griffith, also saw significant court time last season.

After agreeing on the top three and the seventh-place squad (Soddy-Daisy) in the preseason polls, the media and coaches’ opinions differed in the four through six slots.

The media listed Ooltewah, McMinn County and Rhea County in order, while the coaches said McMinn County, Rhea County and Ooltewah.

The Lady Owls return 6-foot-2 standout post Leondra Barrett, while the Lady Cherokees will once again be led by guard Haley Ward and six of the top eight Lady Eagles return for coach Shane Johnston.

Soddy-Daisy will be trying to replace current Middle Tennessee volleyball standout Kelsey Nunley, who led the Lady Trojans in scoring, rebounding and assists last season.

The local season tips off Monday with Walker Valley traveling to East Hamilton for a Hall of Fame doubleheader. The Mustang squads will travel to White County on Nov. 16 for more Hall of Fame play.

Choosing not to play in Hall of Fame games, Cleveland and Bradley will wait until the regular season opens to take the court.

The Lady Raiders will open Nov. 20 with a trip to Christian Academy of Knoxville before hosting the annual Cleveland Classic Nov. 23-24.

Bradley Central will begin the new season with its annual three-day Thanksgiving tournament, Nov. 23-25.

District 5-AAA Girls

Coaches Poll

1. Bradley Central

2. Cleveland High

3. Walker Valley

4. McMinn County

5. Rhea County

6. Ooltewah

7. Soddy-Daisy

Media Poll

1. Bradley Central

2. Cleveland High

3. Walker Valley

4. Ooltewah

5. McMinn County

6. Rhea County

7. Soddy-Daisy