The Bearettes found out the Lady Cherokees have pride.
“What we saw in the second half was a team that had a comfortable lead and didn’t play as hard as their opponent. They didn’t roll over,” Reuter said after the Bearettes’ 65-39 win. “That’s why they outscored us by three points in the second half.”
The Bears closed out the night with their fifth straight District 5-AAA win turning up the heat in the second half and, after weathering a late McMinn County run, closing out a 66-61 victory over the Cherokees.
The Bearettes’ (17-5, 7-2 District 5-AAA) put themselves solidly in second place behind Walker Valley in the district race with a solid first half of basketball against McMinn County Tuesday night.
“We came out clicking on all cylinders. We executed. There is no substitution for shooting the ball and we shot the ball really well. When you have a district opponent down 29 points at halftime there is not much but praise you are going to talk about in the locker room,” said Reuter.
The Bearettes fired out to an 11-2 lead and held a comfortable 23-4 cushion after the first quarter.
Kayla Beavers opened the second quarter with a 3-pointer and tossed in two more from the free-throw line to put Bradley up 28-4. Beavers finished up as the leading scorer with 16 points. Caroline Smith hit double figures with 13 and seven other Bearettes added to the total.
Emily McCracken, back from an ankle injury, put up a 3 to open a 9-3 run and Kaylan Withrow’s trey put Bradley up 41-14 and the Bearettes closed out the first half on top 43-14.
Reuter was less than pleased with the second of basketball from his team.
“I’m not going to make a mountain out of a mole hill, we just have to learn that (complacency) could bite you in a closer game,” he said afterward. “We made reference to tournament time and if we have a 10- or 12-point lead somebody could take the game from us.”
The Bearettes managed only 10 third quarter points while allowing 14 from the Lady Cherokees. McMinn County outdid the visitors in the final eight minutes tossing in 13 points to Bradley’s 12 but the strong first half was more than the Lady Cherokees could overcome and the Bearettes closed out the win.
Rueter said he was pleased with the win but the Bearettes will have to play 32 minutes of basketball no matter the opponent to reach the next level.
“I don’t have anything but praise for the first half. The second half I think was a learning experience for us. We must learn how to compete the whole game no matter what the score is if we truly want to be a championship team.”
“It (the win) put us in a comfortable position, second place (behind Walker Valley). We would really have to make some major blunders down the stretch to not have second place. I’m proud of that. We have to keep pecking along and get ready for Rhea County Friday night.”
With tournament time fast approaching Kent Smith’s Bears are showing signs of putting together 32 minutes of basketball on a consistent basis. Tuesday against the Cherokees, Bradley Central showed Smith what they are capable of in the second half and closed out a solid 66-61 win over McMinn County.
“We had a rough start. We lost three district games in a row. We responded with five wins even though we were a little bit shorthanded tonight without Justin (Houston) and Matt Whitmire,” said Smith.
Houston is nursing an injured back and is day-to-day according to Smith. Whitmire is trying to shake the effects of the flu.
Bryce Copeland’s two 3s combined with four late first-quarter points from Miles Morgan helped the Bears come from seven points down to tie the game at 16-16.
Copeland’s third 3-pointer of the game put Bradley up by three to open the second quarter and the Bears went on to hold off the Cherokees and lead 26-23 at halftime.
Copeland led the Bradley charge with 20 points. Hunter Chastain was one back with 19 and Morgan added 13 to the total.
Smith’s challenge at the break put a charge in the Bears that led to 15 third quarter points while holding off the charging Cherokees.
“Some guys stepped up and played some good minutes. I thought Hunter Chastain in the second half really responded to a challenge at halftime. It’s tough to come up here and win. We did a good job and I’m proud of the guys.”
Bradley Central responded to the challenge with a solid performance to take a 50-45 lead. Five consecutive points from Chastain put the Bears on top 54-45. McMinn County cut it to 62-48 with just under a minute left in the game but would get no closer as the Bears locked up the win from the free-throw line.
“We were a little more disciplined the second half. We screened a lot better in the second half than the first half. We played pretty good defense in the first half. They didn’t kill us on the offensive boards like they did last time,” said Smith.
“It is always good to beat McMinn up here. Now we have to get ready for a good Rhea squad. We are trying to get that consistency. That’s something I’ve been searching for. We’ve just got to stay consistent. We’ve taken some steps forward this year and we’ve taken some steps back. We’ve taken a couple of steps forward the last couple of games. Let’s just see if we can keep on building and peak at the right time for the tournament.”
Smith said he sees the Bears coming together as a team and the return of Houston and Whitmire will help solidify the Bears’ bench.
“We need to get Justin healthy and get him back. We also need to get Matt back and have our full rotation on the bench,” he said. “If we had been in foul trouble tonight we would have been hurting. But it was a good win and I’m proud of them”
BEARETTES 65, LADY CHEROKEES 39
Bradley Central 23 20 10 12 — 65
McMinn County 4 10 12 13 — 39
Bradley Central (65) — Kayla Beavers 16, Caroline Smith 13, Withrow 9, Reuter 6, Copeland 5, McCracken 5, Carroll 4, Formont 4, Hammond 3, Whitted, Hubbard.
McMinn County (39) — Haley Ward 16, C. Smith 9, Murillo 9, Derrick 3, Morrow 2, brown, Brewster, Shirk, K. Smith, Burke.
3-point goals: Bradley Central (5) Beavers 2, Withrow, McCracken, Hammond; McMinn County (6) C. Smith 3, Ward 2, Murillo.
Records: Bradley Central; 17-5, 7-2 5-AAA;
BEARS 66, CHEROKEES 61
Bradley Central 16 10 15 25 — 66
McMinn County 11 9 15 19 — 59
Bradley Central (66) — Bryce Copeland 20, Hunter Chastain 19, Miles Morgan 13, Stovall 9, Johnson 4, Contreras 1, Christian.
McMinn County (59) — E Wilcox 21, Dante Arnwine 15, C. Nevins 12, McBee 5, Simbeck, Taylor, Hicks.
3-point goals: Bradley Central (3) Copeland; McMinn County (1) McBee.
Records: Bradley Central; 15-6 6-3 5-AAA; McMinn Central 16-8, 8-3.