The Bearettes trailed Cookeville by 14 points (38-24) early in the third quarter, but surged back to take the lead in the fourth quarter and come away with a 60-51 victory.
“I’ve been doing this probably 20 years, and I can count on my fingers the type of games we’ve won like this,” BCHS coach Jason Reuter said.
While the girls were able to complete their comeback, the boys were not as fortunate, as their fourth-quarter surge fell just short in a 53-52 loss in the nightcap.
The Bearettes’ victory kept them undefeated at 9-0. It also came after a defensive switch in the third quarter helped spark a 14-0 run.
“The only adjustment we made was we changed our defense from a man to a zone, and you could see that they weren’t real comfortable playing against the zone,” Reuter said. “They’re a good, physical team, and give them all the credit in the world. We did not come out ready to play (Saturday).”
After the 14-0 run tied the game at 38-38, Cookeville held the ball for a final shot in the third quarter and Karagan Turner made an inside shot late in the frame. Tennessee Tech signee Hannah Goolsby opened the fourth quarter with a basket for a 42-38 Lady Cavaliers lead, but the Bearettes chipped away and went ahead 48-46 on Baylee Carroll’s inside bucket with 3:22 left.
Cookeville’s Libby Ligon responded with a big 3-pointer to give the Lady Cavs their last lead, but on the other end of the floor Kayla Withrow banked in a 3-pointer of her own to put Bradley Central up for good.
The Bearettes made 9-of-10 at the line in the final minute to ice the victory.
Brooke Copeland led BCHS with 25 points, eight rebounds and three blocks. Whitney Donaldson added 15 points.
Goolsby led Cookeville (5-5) with 21 points, while Turner added 14.
Reuter was proud of his team for winning despite the deficit and despite having some players hampered by various illnesses.
“I told them after the game, I was afraid coming up here and I knew it would be tough,” he said. “I was afraid this might be the game — with all those variables — that we stub our toe. And it very well could have been, but the credit goes to the girls. They didn’t quit, stuck with the game plan and I’m very, very proud of them.”
CAVALIERS 53, BEARS 52
In the boys game, the Bears (3-5) dropped yet another close game. Their losses have come by a combined 17 points.
Both teams traded leads back and forth in the early going until the Cavaliers (9-1) went on a 7-0 run for a 13-7 advantage at the end of one.
Cookeville eventually widened its lead to as many as 12 (46-34) early in the fourth quarter.
Around that time, a clock controversy as well as a brief disturbance in the stands seemingly helped the Bears take the momentum.
“We lost about 10 to 12 critical seconds that went off the clock on a dead ball, and I couldn’t get the official to put it back on,” Bears coach Kent Smith said. “The explanation was he wasn’t going to guess on it, but a good 10 to 12 seconds went off the clock. But Cookeville’s a good team. I’ve got a very young team. We came over here and battled them right down to the wire. It ought to be interesting at our place.”
Bradley Central turned up the defensive pressure and got to within five, 50-45, with 48.5 seconds left when Bryce Copeland was fouled on a 3-point attempt and made all three charity tosses.
Cookeville’s Trey Henderson and Copeland traded 1-of-2 trips at the line then the Cavs’ Mat Case made 1-of-2 at the line for a 52-46 Cookeville lead with 25.9 seconds left.
On the other end of the floor, Copeland rattled in a 3-pointer with 14 seconds left.
Cookeville’s Lucas Ledbetter hit 1-of-2 at the line with 13.2 seconds remaining, and Matt Whitmire’s 3-pointer at the buzzer accounted for the final margin.
“We made a good run there in the middle of the fourth quarter,” Smith said. “I felt like if we could get it in single digits and speed them up a little bit that we could get back in it. We did that.”
Copeland led the Bears with 27 points and six rebounds, while Whitmire scored nine.
Case scored 20 points for the Cavs, while Henderson chipped in a double-double with 11 points and 13 rebounds. Ledbetter pulled down 11 rebounds to go along with his seven points and three blocks.
Both teams were without a key player — the Bears were missing third-leading scorer Logan Cox (illness), while the Cavs were without starting point guard Phillip Roper (ankle).
Bradley Central 60, Cookeville 51
Bradley 11 9 18 22 — 60
Cookeville 18 14 8 11 — 51
BEARETTES (60) — Brooke Copeland 25, Whitney Donaldson 15, Baylee Carroll 7, Kayla Withrow 7, Rebecca Reuter 6.
LADY CAVALIERS (51) — Hannah Goolsby 21, Karagan Turner 14, Sydney Marek 8, Libby Ligon 3, Alison Odom 3, Sydney Robinson 2.
Records: Bradley 9-0; Cookeville 5-5.
Cookeville 53, Bradley Central 52
Bradley 7 12 11 22 — 52
Cookeville 13 15 11 14 — 53
BEARS (52) — Bryce Copeland 27, Matt Whitmire 9, Taylor Bentley 6, Daniel Clark 6, Caleb Cain 2, Dee Crisp 2, Baylor Terrell 2.
CAVALIERS (53) — Mat Case 20, Trey Henderson 11, Elijah Campbell 8, Lucas Ledbetter 7, John Payne 4, Jadon Richmond 3.
Records: Bradley 3-5; Cookeville 9-1.