Banner Sports Writer
Despite plenty of snow on the ground and someone forgetting to turn on the heat at Jim Smiddy Arena, the action in Saturday night’s cross-country ninth-grade games was plenty hot.
The 400-plus that fought off cabin fever to see some roundball action kept their coats on while Bradley Central’s freshman boys held off a late charge from Walker Valley to claim a 58-53 victory in overtime.
In the girls game the unbeaten Bearettes dominated from the get-go, holding the Lady Mustangs to two first-half field goals on their way to a 61-33 romp.
The only high school games in the county this week, watching the future varsity standouts whet the fans’ appetite as they are hungry for some court action after a week-long fast.
Walker Valley’s varsity was able to return to action by traveling to Rhea County Saturday, where they split a pair of District 5-AAA games.
The remainder of the varsity, junior varsity and middle school teams will be able to resume their seasons beginning Monday.
The ninth-grade Bears jumped out to a 5-0 advantage as Taylor Bentley drilled the first of his four 3-pointers to open the game and Baylor Terrell made a quick steal and a fast-break bucket in the first 30 seconds of the contest.
Bradley pushed its lead to 12-6, but neither team scored in the final four minutes of the opening period.
The Bears got back on track to begin the second frame, pushing their lead to double digits, and the Mustangs couldn’t buy a field goal until midway through the period. They then went on an 8-4 run to trim the deficit to seven points at the half.
Once again the host squad pulled ahead by 10 early in the second half but the pesky boys from the north end of the county fought back to trail by just four points heading to the fourth period.
Walker Valley was able to even the game with 3:16 left in regulation when Brett Barton put back in an offensive rebound. The Bears scored the next six points to lead by a half-dozen.
Unwilling to concede, the Mustangs were able to pull within a basket with 1:24 remaining. Austin Harwood then drove the baseline and put up a prayer with nine ticks on the clock. It was answered to even the score at 45-all, forcing an extra period.
The two teams swapped baskets to open the overtime before the Bears took control of their home court.
Bentley finished off a 30-point night with a seven points during an 11-3 run to put the game out of reach, while teammate Logan Cox netted a half dozen and pulled down four of his seven rebounds during the extra frame.
Cox netted a total of 13 points on the night, while Bentley and Keith Wilson each pulled down five boards.
Barton closed out the scoring with a 3-pointer just before the buzzer and paced the Mustangs with 17 points, while cleaning the glass for 11 caroms.
Harwood pumped in 14 points and snatched a half dozen boards for the visitors, while Dustin Swafford netted seven and pulled down five rebounds.
Lady Mustangs 33
Five of the six shots made early came from beyond the 19-foot arc, leading to an 11-6 Bradley advantage and the home team never looked back. The Bearettes held the visitors scoreless for the final 11:45 of the opening half.
After building a 35-6 lead by intermission, the Black-and-Gold pushed their advantage to 35 points before settling for the 28-point victory.
Bradley hit 23-of-56 shots from the field, including eight from long range, while holding the Lady Mustangs to just 12-of-40 shooting from the field.
The host team won the battle of the boards by just one rebound (27-26) but took advantage of 20 turnovers by the visitors while giving up just a dozen miscues.
Bearette Victoria Jones drained a half dozen 3-pointers on her way to a game-high 23 points, while pulling down seven rebounds.
Rebecca Reuter added a double-double for the winners with a dozen points and the same amount of caroms.
Mady Stallings pitched in with 11 points, while Lyndsey Davis and Emma Wright rounded out the Bearette scoring with eight and six points respectively.
Lyndsey Macon topped the Lady Mustang effort with 11 points, six rebounds and a couple of steals.
Isabella Liner drilled a trio of treys for the northsiders, while Alex Rominger netted eight points.
Walker Valley 6 0 13 14 — 33
Bradley Central 17 18 17 9 — 61
Lady Mustangs (33) — Lyndsey Macon 11, Liner 9, Rominger 8, Percy 2, Kayla Beckler 2, Kasen Beckler, Sims, Gregg, Keefer, Reyes, Farrell, West, Lawhorn.
Bearettes (42) — Victoria Jones 23, , Rebecca Reuter 12, Mady Stallings 11, Davis 8, Wright 6, Delane.
3-pointers: Walker Valley 5 (Liner 3, Macon 2); Bradley 8 (Jones 6, Davis, Stallings).
Free Throws: Walker Valley 2-of-4; Bradley 6-of-8.
Walker Valley 6 10 14 15 8 — 53
Bradley Central 12 11 11 11 13 — 58
Mustangs (53) — Brett Barton 17, Austin Harwood 14, Melton 8, Swafford 7, Hunt 4, Korn 3, Morrow, Hentzel.
Bears (58) — Taylor Bentley 30, Logan Cox 13, Terrell 6, Pickel 5, Blackwell 2, Wilson 2, McGowan.
3-pointers: Walker Valley 3 (Barton 2, Korn); Bradley 6 (Bentley 4, Pickel, Cox).
Free Throws: Walker Valley 7-of-13; Bradley 15-of-22.