“We gave them too many second chances,” declared Bear head coach Kent Smith after his team allowed 14 of the Stars’ 31 caroms to come off the offensive glass. “They (Siegel) are very athletic and put up a lot of quick shots, so boxing out is a key. We just didn’t do that today.”
Both teams hit 16 shots from in front of the 19-foot arc, but the Stars sank one more 3-pointer (5-4) and three more free throws (12-9) for a 59-53 payback victory. The Bears had defeated the 2011 state semifinalists 82-71 in the season opener last month.
Bradley now drops to the consolation bracket of the Maryville Christmas Invitational Tournament, where it will face fellow District 5-AAA member McMinn County this afternoon at 2:30.
“It’s like kissing your sister to go to an out-of-town tournament and end up playing a team from your own district,” Smith proclaimed. The Bears are slated to travel to Athens to face the Cherokees in a key district matchup the first game of the new year on Jan. 6.
Bradley (9-4) struggled a little out of the gate, hitting just two of its first 10 shots from the field, but bounced back to hit five of its next six as the game stood even (15-all) at the close of the opening period.
Siegel (8-4) scored the first eight points of the second frame and even though the Bears cut the lead in half, the boys from Murfreesboro led by double digits when they drained back-to-back 3s with two minutes left in the half.
An old fashioned three-point play by senior Hunter Chastain with 1:27 to go trimmed the difference back to seven.
Both teams hit 10-of-20 first half two-pointers, but the Stars had one more “3” and a pair of free throws more for a 36-28 advantage at the intermission.
After the break Bradley began to chip away at the deficit and cut the difference from a dozen to just three points by the end of the third period. The Bears took the lead for just the second time in the contest when junior Bryce Copeland drained his third 3-pointer of the afternoon with 6:05 to go.
However, that turned out to be the only field goal the Bears netted out of eight fourth quarter shots. Siegel wasn’t much better, making just 2-of-10, so the difference came down to the free-throw line.
With the score standing 53-52 in favor of the Stars with 22.4 seconds on the clock, Bradley got whistled for an offensive foul. With the turnover the Bears were forced to put Siegel on the line in order to try to regain possession.
After making the first two free throws for a three-point lead at the 17.5 mark, the Stars purposely fouled with 11.9 to go to prevent a 3-point attempt. The Bears made just one of the two free throws and then had to foul again. Siegel sealed the victory by making four more free throws in the final 10 seconds of the contest.
The Stars made 12-of-18 charity tosses in the contest, while the Bears sank just 9-of-21. Bradley had a better shooting percentage from the floor, making half of its 32 two-point attempts and 4-of-15 long-range shots, compared to 16-of-36 in front of the arc and 5-for-21 beyond it for Siegel.
“We can’t hide behind excuses. We were up a point in the fourth (period) and had back-to-back turnovers and they (Siegel) retook the lead,” Smith explained. “We have to stand up and be accountable. Our players are going to have to decide what type of team we’re going to be.”
In just his second game back from a broken forearm, junior guard Bryce Copeland once again led the Bear scoring with 19 points, including three of the team’s four 3-pointers. He also led the team with six rebounds, plus he handed out two assists and had a couple of steals.
Senior Miles Morgan helped out with 10 points and four caroms, while classmate Justin Houston netted nine markers and had a pair of helps.
The Stars had a trio of players reach double figure scoring as Dominique Gooch had 14, while Treyton Harris and Charles Clark followed with 11 and 10 respectively.
Bradley Central 15 13 18 7 — 53
Siegel 15 21 14 9 — 59
Bears (53) — Bryce Copeland 19, Miles Morgan 10, Houston 9, Chastain 7, Johnson 6, Whitmire 2, Christian, Bentley.
Stars (59) — Dominique Gooch 14, Treyton Harris 11, Charles Clark 10, D. Clark 9, Brandon 8, Simpson 4. Burton 3, Martin, Miller, Jones.
3-pointers: Bradley 4 (Copeland 3, Johnson); Siegel 5 (Clark 2, Harris, Gooch, Burton).
Free Throws: Bradley 9-of-21; Siegel 12-of-18.
Records: Bradley Central 9-4; Siegel 8-4.