“This is a huge win. As coaches we can tell the girls we have confidence in them, but a big win like this gives them confidence in themselves,” declared third-year Lady Mustang head coach Jessica Stone after the 45-37 shocker.
“We had to battle and earned every point we got, but we were able to do the things we wanted to do and it worked,” she added after her first victory over the county rivals since she took over the head coaching duties on the north end. Stone was an assistant coach when Walker Valley was the last district team to defeat the three-time 5-AAA champion Bearettes back on Jan. 18, 2011.
“You have to tip your hat to Walker Valley. They had a game plan and they were able to execute it,” remarked Bearette head coach Jason Reuter. “This falls on me. I should have had us better prepared.”
While Reuter was willing to shoulder the blame, the fact of the matter is this team couldn’t buy a bucket and had 21 turnovers, while the Lady Mustangs capitalized on their opportunities and controlled the flow of the game.
“I don’t remember us having a worse shooting night. We only made 2-of-24 3-pointers. That’s what, 8 percent, and I can’t remember us taking any bad shots, but they just weren’t going down,” related Reuter. The Bearettes made just 12-of-28 two-point attempts, while the hosts sank 50 percent (15-of-30) from close in, but also struggled some from distance, hitting 2-of-11 from beyond the arc.
Now 4-1 on the season, Walker Valley will continue district play Thursday with a trip to Ooltewah (1-4, 0-1), while Bradley (5-2, 0-1) will travel to McMinn County (1-5, 1-0) Friday evening.
The Lady Mustangs came out of the gate strong Tuesday evening, netting the game’s first two baskets on drives by sophomore Kathleen Alomar and senior Victoria Jones.
Bradley fought back to even the score at 4-all and 6-all as University of Florida signee Brooke Copeland put in the first three Bearette field goals, but when senior Mady Stallings drilled a 3-pointer a few minutes later to knot the game at 9, it would be as close as the visitors came to the lead in the contest.
Walker Valley netted the final four points of the opening frame on a pair of Davis free throws and an offensive rebound putback by junior Jaclyn Griffith.
A 3-pointer by Alomar to open the second quarter scoring pushed the advantage to seven points for the first of four times throughout the frame. Middle Tennessee State signee Rebecca Reuter scored six of Bradley’s last eight points before the half to trim the deficit to just three points, but a jumper from the side of the key by senior Lyndsey Macon with just three seconds on the clock put the “Fillies” back up by five at the intermission.
The second half started slow with Bradley making just one of its first 13 shots, while Walker Valley found the bottom of the net just once in seven tries during the first 6 1/2 minutes. The teams combined for just 14 points in the third frame, with the lead trimmed to just three points heading into the fourth quarter.
Once again the hosts struck first on a drive by Macon to open the final frame scoring. Even though Bradley stayed within striking distance at four points for the majority of the period, it went cold down the stretch, missing its final four shots and turning the ball over three times in the final 94 seconds. Walker Valley was able to preserve the victory at the free-throw line, sinking 4-of-6 in the final minute.
“We (Walker Valley) were consistent. When Bradley would make a couple of shots to cut the lead, our girls didn’t panic, but would come right back down, stay patient and get a good shot,” praised Coach Stone. “We still have a lot of improving to do, but we are off to a good start and we’ve shown we can play with anybody.”
Macon led the Lady Mustang attack with 14 points, four rebounds, four steals, a pair of assists, plus she blocked a shot attempt by one of Bradley’s 6-foot-2 “Twin Towers.”
Jones and Alomar finished with 10 points apiece, with Jones grabbing a trio of rebounds, while Alomar snatched a half dozen steals. DJ Mowery pulled down five caroms in the victory, while Griffith added seven points.
Copeland topped the Bradley stat sheet with a double-double of 13 points and 15 rebounds, plus she blocked a pair of shots. Rebecca Reuter helped out with 10 points and seven caroms, while freshman Emma Kate Brown came off the bench for seven markers and four ricochets.
The Bearettes committed 21 turnovers, compared to 17 for the hosts, but won the battle of the backboards by a 32-22 margin.
Bradley Central 9 15 8 5 — 37
Walker Valley 13 16 6 10 — 45
BEARETTES (37) — Brooke Copeland 13, Rebecca Reuter 10, Emma Kate Brown 7, Mady Stallings 3, Lyndsy Davis 2, Katie Brown 2, Julia Gaither, Chelsie Summars.
LADY MUSTANGS (45) — Lyndsey Macon 14, Victoria Jones 10, Kathleen Alomar 10, Jaclyn Griffith 7, Emilee Spann 2, DJ Mowery 2, Peyton Davis.
3-POINTERS: Bradley 2 (Stallings, EK Brown); WV 2 (Alomar, Griffith).
FREE THROWS: Bradley 5-of-7; WV 9-of-15.
RECORDS: Bradley Central 5-2, 0-1 District 5-AAA; Walker Valley 4-1, 1-0 District 5-AAA.