On Wednesday that was true for Bradley Central’s hoops season as well as the dominating careers of the “Twin Towers.”
After filling the nets for 22 points in the opening period, the Bearettes managed just 23 points over the final 24 minutes.
“We hit a lot of big shots in the first quarter, then we went cold,” remarked head coach Jason Reuter of the 53-45 defeat to seventh-ranked Memphis Ridgeway in their BlueCross Basketball Championships Class AAA quarterfinal contest.
“We didn’t do a good enough job on the boards. We gave up 16 offensive rebounds, many of which they turned into points,” the Bradley mentor mentioned. “We were allowing two and three shots and it’s hard to win like that.”
The game marks the final outing for senior standouts Brooke Copeland and Rebecca Reuter, who leave big Black-and-Gold shoes to fill.
Copeland, a 6-foot-2 University of Florida signee, ripped the cords for a game-high 21 points, moving her past Jackie Pickel into eighth place on the all-time Bearette scoring list with 2,232 career points.
The McDonald’s All-American nominee and two-time District 5-AAA Player of the Year hit 2-of-3 shots from beyond the 19-foot arc and went 5-for-7 at the free-throw line, plus she cleared eight rebounds, handed out four assists and blocked a pair of shots in her second TSSAA state tournament game.
“My career at Bradley has been amazing. I’ve enjoyed it so much. I’m blessed,” declared Copeland.
Playing on her future home court at Middle Tennessee State University, the 6-foot-3 Reuter posted her final double-double as a Bearette, with 15 points and 10 caroms, plus she also dished off four helps and blocked a shot.
Her 1,108 four-year scoring total puts her 17th on the Bearette scoring list.
“I wish it (her career) could have gone a little farther, but I’ve really enjoyed playing at Bradley,” related the younger Reuter.
Bradley’s campaign finished with a 26-6 record, pushing Copeland’s and both Reuter’s career marks to 115-16, for an 87.7 winning percentage.
Wednesday’s game had an unusual start, as Copeland was sent off the court by the referees to remove a long-sleeved undershirt she’s worn in games all season. She was told because the shirt had gray stitching, it was therefore not the required solid color.
When she returned to the hardwood, Copeland stepped to the foul line to shoot a pair of free throws as Ridgeway (29-3) was whistled for a technical foul for having a player in a different uniform number than what was provided in the official scorebook.
After Copeland made one of the two charity tosses, Bradley proceeded to sink its first half dozen shots from the field for a 13-9 advantage.
By the end of the opening frame, the Bearettes led 22-15, having hit 7-of-8 shots from in front of the arc and going 2-for-3 beyond it — both by Copeland — to give her 12 points for the period.
Bradley’s hot hand cooled in the second quarter, when it made just 2-of-9 shots from the field and a free throw as the Lady Roadrunners closed the gap to 28-25 at intermission.
“Even though we struggled some in the second period, I still felt confident with a three-point lead and all of my timeouts left,” proclaimed Coach Reuter.
After the break, Ridgeway scored the first seven points of the second half and when Oreonna Brown drove the lane 85 seconds into the third period, the girls from Memphis took a lead they never surrendered.
Trailing by five points three different times during the quarter, Bradley freshman Halle Hughes took a pass from Copeland on a fast break to trim the difference to three points heading into the final period.
Copeland closed the gap to a single point with a pair of free throws 55 seconds into the fourth quarter, but that was as close as the score would get.
Ridgeway sealed the victory by hitting 9-of-10 free throws in the final five minutes.
The Roadrunners made 17-of-47 shots from the field and went 20-for-27 at the charity stripe in the contest.
Sophomore point guard Brandi Beasley topped the Ridgeway effort with 17 points, while 6-foot-2 junior Eryn Foster had a double-double with a dozen points and 10 boards.
Old Dominion signee Ashley Jackson helped out the victors with seven points and 11 caroms.
Making their first state tournament appearance since 2006, the Roadrunners won the battle of the boards by a 35-31 margin and turned the ball over just eight times.
“I tip my hat to Ridgeway, they are a very good team. They are very balanced,” commented Coach Reuter. “After the first period they adjusted their zone defense and we weren’t able to adjust what we were doing to counter it.”
Bradley made just 3-of-21 field goals in the second half and went 14-for-21 at the charity stripe on the day.
After shooting 82 percent from the field in the first period, the Bearettes hit just 17 percent (5-for-31) in the final three frames.
Hughes finished with a half dozen points, plus pulled down four rebounds and copped a pair of steals in the contest.
BlueCross Basketball Championships
TSSAA state quarterfinals
Ridgeway 15 10 13 15 — 53
Bradley Central 22 6 7 10 — 45
LADY ROADRUNNERS (53) — Brandi Beasley 17, Eryn Foster 12, Paylor 9, Jackson 7, Brown 4, Humphrey 2, Bryson 2, Barr, Hillard, Boone.
BEARETTES (45) — Brooke Copeland 21, Rebecca Reuter 15, Halle Hughes 6, Chelsie Summars 2, Emma Kate Brown 2, Mady Stallings, Lyndsy Davis.
3-POINTERS: Ridgeway 1 (Beasley); Bradley 3 (Copeland 2, Hughes).
FREE THROWS: Ridgeway 20-of-27; Bradley 14-of-21.
RECORDS: Memphis Ridgeway 29-3; Bradley 26-6.