A pair of personal-best scoring performances by college-bound players highlighted Friday night’s girls’ game between archrivals Bradley Central and Cleveland High before a near-capacity crowd at Lee University’s Walker Arena.
University of Florida signee Brooke Copeland broke the 2,000-point mark as she smoked the nylon for a career-high 40 points to lead the Bearettes to a 67-51 victory, despite 36 points by Lady Raider Nora Berry, who is headed for Grambling State (La.) University.
The seniors combined with Middle Tennessee State signee Rebecca Reuter, who scored 14 for Bradley, to net better than 76 percent of the points in the contest.
“They (Cleveland) came out hot and Berry had the game of her life,” declared Bearette head coach Jason Reuter. “Once we settled down, we were able to use our size advantage to take control of the game.”
The “Twin Towers” of Copeland and Reuter are both 6-foot-2 post players, while Berry is Cleveland’s tallest player at 5-foot-11, but as a deadly 3-point shooter plays mainly on the wing.
The second victory of the season over their crosstown rivals keeps the Bearettes atop the District 5-AAA standings with an 8-1 mark, while improving to 16-5 overall this season. Bradley has a two-game lead over Walker Valley and McMinn County, who are both 6-3 in district play, with just three league games remaining for each.
The Bearettes will travel to Ooltewah Tuesday and host Soddy-Daisy Friday for district match ups this week.
At 9-9 overall and 4-4 in district play, Cleveland is currently in fourth place in the 5-AAA race, just a game behind the Lady Mustangs and Lady Cherokees. The Lady Raiders will travel to East Hamilton Tuesday and have a key showdown at Walker Valley Friday.
Berry ignited the offensive explosion Friday evening with back-to-back 3-pointers before the Bearettes were able to get off a shot.
Bradley fought back with a pair of lane jumpers by Reuter and a baseline drive by Copeland to even the score before Berry drilled the third of her half dozen treys on the night from NBA range.
Coach Mindy Kiser’s crew pushed their advantage to four points a moment later, but a pair of Bearette freshmen with Lee University ties sandwiched baskets around another Copeland bucket to propel the Black-and-Gold into the lead for good.
Halle Hughes, whose grandfather, Dale, coached the old Vikings from 1964-75, put back in an offensive rebound for the first bucket before Copeland got loose on a fast break to knot the score. Emma Kate Brown, whose dad, Tommy, has been the Flames head coach since 2005, provided the lone lead change of the contest with a drive to give Bradley a 15-13 edge at the first horn.
After having netted the final half dozen points of the opening frame, the Bearettes also scored the first six markers of the second period, all coming from Copeland.
Berry halted a five-minute scoreless streak by the Lady Raiders with a turnaround jumper at the 4:36 mark of the period. Berry scored all nine of Cleveland’s points in the second frame. But, with Copeland netting a dozen in the eight-minute span, Bradley held a 34-22 halftime advantage.
While Berry was running her string to 20 straight points with all of Cleveland’s third-period points (11) as well, the Bearettes stretched their lead to 19 three times during the third quarter.
Both teams ripped the cords for 18 points in the final frame for the 16-point difference at the final buzzer.
Copeland’s balanced effort saw her score 19 points in the first half and 21 in the second, with double-digit scoring in three of the four periods. The McDonald’s All-American nominee also pulled down a half dozen rebounds and copped a pair of steals.
“I’m very proud of my teammates,” declared Copeland who has now scored 2,003 points in her Bearette career. “I had no idea I had that many points. My teammates just kept getting me the ball and I was able to do something with it. I’m blessed to be part of such a great team.”
Copeland’s 40 was the most for a Bearette since former All-American Brittany Jackson netted that amount against Decatur, Ala., on Nov. 26, 2000. Jackson had 44 against Hillsboro in that same holiday tournament, plus 50 against Rhea County in January of that year.
Reuter posted a double-double with 13 caroms to go with her 14 points, plus she blocked a pair of shots, while Hughes cleared seven ricochets, dished out five assists and netted five points. Junior point guard Chelsie Summars gave out a half dozen helps in the victory.
“I know at a glance it looks like Brooke (Copeland) and Becca (Reuter) did most everything, but we really did have a good team effort,” Coach Reuter expressed. “Things like Chelsie’s and Halle’s assists, plus senior Lyndsy Davis coming off the bench after missing several games with a concussion to drain a big 3-pointer. People came in and did what we needed them to do to help us win.”
Bradley shot better than 70 percent from two-point range, hitting 26-of-37 attempts, plus went 2-for-6 on 3-pointers and 9-of-15 at the foul line. Cleveland sank 10-for-29 in front of the arc, 7-of-23 beyond it, plus made 10-of-12 free throws.
Berry’s 36 was the most points scored by a Lady Raider since Tiffany Buckelew poured in that many against Cumberland County on Jan. 10, 2003.
Junior point guard Jenna Scoggins helped out the Cleveland effort Friday night with nine points, four assists, four steals, plus she blocked a shot.
— Gary Ownbey provided the historical scoring information for this story.
Bradley Central 15 19 15 18 — 67
Cleveland 13 9 11 18 — 51
BEARETTES (67) — Brooke Copeland 40, Rebecca Reuter 14, Halle Hughes 5, Emma Kate Brown 4, Lyndsy Davis 3, Chelsie Summars 1, Mady Stallings, Julia Gaither, Kailey McRee.
LADY RAIDERS (51) — Nora Berry 36, Jenna Scoggins 9, Jamiyah Person 4, Sarah Crump 2, Bre Ware, Sofia Stamatiadis, Timyrah Phillips, Hallea McClendon.
3-POINTERS: Bradley 2 (Copeland, Davis); Cleveland 7 (Berry 6, Scoggins).
FREE THROWS: Bradley 9-of-15; Cleveland 10-of-12.
RECORDS: Bradley 16-5, 8-1 District 5-AAA; Cleveland 9-9, 4-4 District 5-AAA.