“We ‘finished’ the game,” declared veteran head coach Kent Smith after his Bears handed host Northwest Whitfield (Ga.) its first defeat of the season by an 81-60 margin. “We finally played the four full quarters.
“I’m proud of the way we played,” he praised. “In the games we lost, we rushed our shots and didn’t take care of the ball when we had big leads, but tonight we were patient and took what the defense gave us.”
Bradley’s Bearettes continued their winning ways as well with a 58-31 victory to improve to 8-0 on the young season.
The Bradley squads continued their current five-game road trips with games in Cookeville Saturday evening. The Black-and-Gold won the girls’ game 60-51, but the boys dropped a 53-52 heartbreaker (see full details in Monday’s edition of the Banner).
Bradley will travel to the foot of Signal Mountain Tuesday evening to face the always-tough Baylor squads before finally returning to Jim Smiddy Arena Friday when McMinn County comes calling for a key District 5-AAA doubleheader.
Scoring more than 20 points in three periods Friday evening, the Bears (3-4) trailed twice — the first when Northwest Whitfield scored off the game’s opening tip.
Senior Bryce Copeland answered with a 3-pointer from the corner less than 30 seconds into the contest.
The Bruins (5-1) took their final advantage of the evening a moment later on an offensive rebound putback by 6-foot-5 Oshea Hill as he and Copeland matched each other with 23-point performances.
When junior Taylor Bentley hit Bradley’s second 3-pointer two minutes into the contest the Volunteer State visitors took the lead for good.
Leading 22-13 at the first break, the two teams were nip-and-tuck over the next two frames as the difference only changed a little before Bradley was up by 11 points heading into the final quarter.
In a situation where they had struggled in their four losses this season, the Bears turned things up a notch, using an 11-1 run to open the fourth frame to salt the victory away.
“We finished strong. We were without our third-leading scorer (junior Logan Cox who was ill), but the rest of the guys played their roles and did a great job,” coach Smith proclaimed as he had five players score in double figures.
“Bryce (Copeland) had an excellent core game, plus Taylor (Bentley) did a great job,” the coach added. “We got great inside play from (Matt) Whit(mire), (Caleb) Cain and (Dee) Crisp, who came off the bench and really had a great game.”
Crisp posted a double-double with varsity career-highs of 10 points and a dozen rebounds.
Copeland dished out nine assists, pull down a half dozen caroms, swiped six steals and drained a trio of treys as part of his third straight 20-plus point performance.
Cain and Whitmire both netted 14 points, plus cleared nine and eight caroms respectively, while Bentley drained 2-of-3 3-point attempts, plus made all three of his free throws, as part of his 13 markers.
The Bears put up 69 shots from the field, making 33 (48 percent), including a half dozen 3-pointers. Bradley also cleared 50 rebounds in the victory, 26 coming off the offensive glass.
Northwest Whitfield also shot 48 percent from the field, but got off 21 less shots than the visitors, including only 5-of-19 from beyond the arc, and snatched just 23 team caroms.
Bearettes 58, Lady Bruins 31
After missing their first half dozen shots and not taking the lead until midway through the opening frame, Bradley’s girls more than made up for the slow start.
Using a 14-3 run to close out the first quarter and open the second, the Bearettes went up by double digits for good when they scored the final 10 points of the first half, holding the hosts scoreless for more than four minutes.
The balance Bradley scoring attack posted 15 points in two frames and 14 in the other two as the defense had a string of seven straight single-digit quarters snapped when the Lady Bruins (5-4) netted 11 in the final eight minutes.
With 10 of 12 Bearettes finding the bottom of the net, the playing time was well spread out.
Juniors Brooke Copeland and Whitney Donaldson led the way with 13 and 12 points respectively while on the court for a little more than half the game.
Copeland netted eight points and grabbed a half dozen rebounds in the opening frame, while foul trouble and big Bearette leads sent her to the bench early in both the second and third frames.
Donaldson put in five points in both the second and fourth frames, plus copped five steals on the evening.
Junior Rebecca Reuter cleaned the glass for a team-high nine caroms, plus blocked three shots, dished four “dimes,” plus scored a half dozen in the victory.
Seniors Kayla Withrow and Baylee Carroll also netted six points, while classmates Brandi Whitted and Maggie Thompson added five points apiece.
Withrow also grabbed four boards, handed off three helps and copped a pair of steals.
The Bearettes made 19-of-53 shots (36 percent) from the field, including eight 3-pointers, while holding Northwest Whitfield, which was in the Georgia state finals just two years ago, to only 18 percent (9-of-50) shooting.
The teams were close off the boards with Bradley holding a slim 35-33 rebounding advantage, but the visitors only turned the ball over 15 times compared to 26 by the Lady Bruins.
Bradley Central 15 14 15 14 — 58
NW Whitfield 7 4 9 11 — 31
BEARETTES (58) — Brooke Copeland 13, Whitney Donaldson 12, Carroll 6, Withrow 6, Whitted 5, Thompson 5, Reuter 5, Stallings 3, Davis 2, Hill 1, Delane, Pippenger.
LADY BRUINS (31) — Alice Ann Barber 10, Blackwell 8, Weeks 4, Ford 4, Mastin 3, Logan 1, Williams 1, Thomas, Souther, Allen, Wade, King, Richards, Trew.
3-POINTERS: Bradley 8 (Withrow 2, Donaldson 2, Thompson, Copeland, Whitted, Stallings); NW Whitfield 1 (Blackwell).
FREE THROWS: Bradley 12-of-19; NW Whitfield 12-of-24.
RECORDS: Bradley 8-0; NW Whitfield 5-4.
Bradley Central 22 16 21 22 — 81
NW Whitfield 13 15 20 12 — 60
BEARS (81) — Bryce Copeland 23, Matt Whitmire 14, Caleb Cain 14, Taylor Bentley 13, Dee Crisp 10, Clark 5, Terrell 2.
BRUINS (60) — Oshea Hill 23, Tanner Quarles 15, Storey 5, Bailey 5, Wiseman 5, McDaniel 4, King 3, Branson, Ledford.
3-point goals: Bradley Central 6 (Copeland 3, Bentley 2, Clark); NW Whitfield 5 (Quarles 5).
Free throws: Bradley Central 9-of-13; NW Whitfield 17-of-26.
Records: Bradley Central 3-4; NW Whitfield 5-1.