MARYVILLE — After a great finish to Wednesday night’s opening round victory at the Renasant Bank Christmas Tournament, Bradley Central saw a 180-degree turn in Thursday evening’s second-round battle.
The Bears went on a 21-11 run in the final eight minutes to defeat Campbell County in the opener, but Thursday gave away a six-point, fourth-quarter lead by netting just five points as the host Maryville squad rallied for a 53-43 win.
Now 5-6 on the season, the Bears will take on Stone Memorial (7-6) at 5:15 this evening in a consolation bracket contest. Stone Memorial dropped a 60-52 decision to unbeaten Sevier County (14-0) Thursday.
McMinn County (6-7) also dropped its second round game Thursday, falling to Knox Fulton 57-48. The Cherokees will take on Knox Webb today at 4 p.m.
Play will continue Saturday at the event with Bradley set to take the court at either 4 or 5:30 p.m., against either McMinn County or Webb, depending on today’s results.
Thursday’s meeting between Bradley and Maryville didn’t live up to their 2007 state tournament overtime thriller before the Rebels went on to claim the TSSAA crown that season.
The Bears fell into a quick hole Thursday as Maryville (8-2) netted a dozen of the game’s first 17 points and then stretched the advantage to seven points by the end of the opening period.
The tables turned as Bradley opened the second quarter with a 12-5 run to even the score, as sophomore Daniel Clark came off the bench for a pair of buckets and a big steal. However, the Rebels were able to edge back up just before the half with just their second field goal of the frame, a 3-pointer with 55 seconds on the clock.
The Bear defense once again held the host to single digit scoring in the third period as the lead changed hands a half dozen times before junior Taylor Bentley was able to score on a fast break and then a moment later dish the ball off to senior Matt Whitmire for a baseline jumper that put the Black-and-Gold up 38-35 heading into the final frame.
Clark pushed the Bear lead to six when he drained a 3-pointer in the opening minute of the fourth quarter, but unfortunately Bradley would only score one more goal, another baseline jumper by Whitmire at the 5:15 mark.
After committing just three turnovers in the first 24 minutes of play, the Bears had five miscues in the final period, including a trio of bad passes the Rebels picked off. After sinking half of its 34 previous shots, Bradley went just 2-of-10 from the field in the frame, while the Rebels matched their 18-point first period output.
Whitmire and Bentley were the only Bears to net double figures with 14 and 10 points respectively, while Maryville’s bruising defense held leading scorer Bryce Copeland, who has averaged 21 points a game this season, to just six points.
Whitmire pulled down five rebounds in the contest, while Copeland cleared seven caroms, copped three steals and dished out a trio of assists. Bentley snatched three boards, swiped a pair of thefts and dished out a couple of “dimes.”
Making just 2-of-17 3-point attempts, the 43 points was Bradley’s lowest offensive output of the season. The Bears did have 13 assists on their 19 made baskets.
Maryville’s 53 was their second-lowest scoring total of the current campaign, having scored just 51 points in a loss to Knox Webb before Thanksgiving. John Garrett and Bryan Landers led the Rebels with 15 and 13 points respectively.
Bradley Central 11 12 15 5 — 43
Maryville 18 8 9 18 — 53
BEARS (43) — Matt Whitmire 14, Taylor Bentley 10, Clark 7, Copeland 6, Cox 4, Cain 2, Terrell, Crisp.
REBELS (53) — John Garrett 15, Bryan Landers 13, Kimble 9, McCall 8, Wilson 6, Myers 2, Page.
3-point goals: Bradley Central 6 (Copeland 3, Cox 3); Maryville 4 (Garrett 3, Kimble).
Free throws: Bradley Central 3-of-4; Maryville 7-of-8.
Records: Bradley Central 5-6; Maryville 8-2.