By PATRICK MacCOON
When Bradley Central hosts Ooltewah in a District 5-AAA matchup tonight, the perennial powerhouse will be looking to win its 41st straight district contest.Using home court advantage to its fullest, …
When Bradley Central hosts Ooltewah in a District 5-AAA matchup tonight, the perennial powerhouse will be looking to win its 41st straight district contest.
Using home court advantage to its fullest, the Bearettes have not lost a home district contest since Dec. 3, 2010, in a 53-42 loss to Walker Valley.
It was 2,566-day span which also has seen just seven losses altogether at Jim Smiddy Arena in a stretch of 100 games.
No East Tennessee girls basketball program has more wins (208) in the eight seasons since head coach Jason Reuter took over.
After winning 32 straight games last season, Bradley is off to an impressive 8-0 start that includes wins over two of the state's highly ranked teams from last season.
The Bearettes' defense has held its own this season only allowing 37 points per game and 43 points in wins over Daniel Boone and Houston, who had a 59-10 combined record in the 2016-17 campaign.
While University of Kentucky signee Rhyne Howard flashed her star all-around impact with 46 points, 17 rebounds, eight assists, seven steals, six blocks and five 3-pointers, freshman Jamaryn Blair and sophomore Kaleigh Hughes stepped up big in a pair of victories this past weekend in the East/West Classic.
Hughes caught fire, making her first four 3-point field goal attempts to help Bradley to a 16-3 lead just 3 minutes and 46 seconds into play against Houston. She went on to finish with a new varsity career-high 14 points and added four rebounds in the 16-point victory.
Blair also splashed four times from beyond the arc in a win against Arlington. Her lockdown defense has also been a major spark, as she has averaged 1.5 steals per game.
While the Bearettes will look to extend their streak, the boys will look to start theirfirst winning streak of the season.
The Bears (4-3, 0-1) received strong inside play from senior Taye Cobb this past weekend, who put forth 20 points, 14 rebounds (four offensive) to go with three steals and a pair of blocks in a close 66-60 loss to Bolton (6-1).
Lameric Tucker and Jared Elrod also had their biggest performances of the season this past weekend with 22- and 15-point games.
EAST HAMILTON vs. WALKER VALLEY
While the Bearettes have won the past eight district championships, the Lady Hurricanes are making plenty of noise early this season.
Just twice in East Hamilton's 12-game winning streak to start the season has another opponent scored over 50 points. Both did, however, come in district wins over Soddy-Daisy and Cleveland.
While facing a tough challenge, the Lady Mustangs (3-3, 1-1) have plenty of motivation to bounce back after losing a tough district game to Cleveland that they once led by 17 points.
In fact, the last time Walker Valley hosted East Hamilton, the girls came away with a 49-30 victory last season on Senior Night.
The key will be to get back to the inside-out game for Paul Cretton's team, who totaled 26 assists earlier this season in a victory on the road at Sweetwater.
Macey Clark can get hot at any moment from 3-point range, but the Lady Mustangs will look to get crisper looks from passing inside to 6-foot-1 center Haley Jones who is averaging nearly four assists per game this season.
A balanced scoring sheet for WV, who is led in scoring by senior Lauren Lay (13.5 ppg) can make a major difference.
Meanwhile, the Mustangs (1-5, 0-1) will face another tough district battle with an up-tempo East Hamilton (10-2, 1-1) squad.
The matchup between sharpshooters Cameron Montgomery and Kolten Gibson will be a key battle to watch, as both can score at will when they get the hot hand.
Zeke Westfield will be relied upon down low to show the same flashes he did in a all-star performance at Sweetwater earlier this season where he scored 20 points to go with 14 rebounds, six blocks and four assists.
Jordan Munck is the third Mustang to have a 20-point game to his credit this season.
Walker Valley will make up a road test with Ooltewah this Thursday at 6 and 7:30.
CLEVELAND at ALCOA
After snow-outs kept all local teams except Bradley out of action this past weekend, Cleveland will travel up to Knoxville for the second time in the early season.
The Blue Raiders (3-2) in wins this season have averaged a 30.6-point margin of victory, while both losses have been decided in the final possession.
Dionte Ware has caught fire to start the season, as the 6-foot-5 forward is averaging over 20 points and 10 rebounds per game.
The Lady Raiders (3-5) are coming off a major district road victory, in which Madison Dasher could not be stopped.
A tough road test will present itself for a group that will look to Emma Flowers, Caitlin Reed, Sydni Callahan and Braylee Franklin to help assert their experience in hopes of gaining even more momentum.
CHS will travel to Soddy-Daisy for a makeup game before playing Fulton and Oak Ridge in the Shootout Classic Friday and Saturday.
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