MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – The Bradley Central Bearettes have made more appearances at the girl's basketball state tournament than anyone in this year’s field and they’ve won more state titles as well.
The memory of their most recent trip to the TSSAA’s BlueCross Basketball Championships may be their least pleasant after getting beaten soundly by Science Hill here at MTSU’s Murphy Center Wednesday afternoon.
Everyone is aware of the fact that Rebecca Reuter had to sit out Wednesday’s game after getting two technical fouls in Saturday’s sectional game.
Her absence surely changed Bradley’s game plan, but it would have been tough any way you look at it after the Lady Hilltoppers advanced to Friday’s semifinals with the 64-38 victory.
“Defensively, I thought we played well after holding them to just 28 percent shooting from the field,” said Science Hill coach Darrell Barnwell after his team had improved to 34-3.
“We normally shoot the ball a little better, but I thought the key for us was our rebounding in the second half. We gave them a lot of second chances in the first half, but we did a much better job in the second.
“I thought we did a good job of keeping them from getting good looks, but I felt like we were focused today. There are a lot of expectations for our kids after finishing second last year, but it’s nice to get this first one out of the way and it’s even nicer having a day off tomorrow,” Barnwell added.
Brooke Copeland hit the first of two free throws with 6:46 showing in the first quarter to give the Bearettes a 1-0 lead, but Science Hill’s Morgan Knack answered with a 3 from the baseline and the Lady Hilltoppers never trailed again.
Copeland scored on a nice inside move 90 seconds later to cut Science Hill’s lead to 6-4, but the team from Johnson City scored eight unanswered points for a 14-4 lead and the difference was 16-10 when the quarter ended.
Kayla Witherow nailed a 3 midway through the second quarter as Bradley crept to within 18-15, but again, Science Hill went on a run to score 10 straight points and the difference was 28-15 following a short bank shot by Shy Copney with 2:05 to play.
The difference was 29-17 at halftime.
While Bradley’s offense was out of sync in Reuter’s absence, the Bearettes certainly didn’t help themselves as they only hit six of 26 shots from the field in the first half and weren’t much better overall as they finished at 13 of 46 for 28.3 percent.
Science Hill appeared to be quicker at every turn and very few Bradley shots were uncontested.
While the Bearettes had been fighting an uphill battle for most of the first half, the task got even tougher in the second half as the Lady Hilltoppers made some changes defensively and Bradley didn’t respond.
Science Hill’s lead was 47-25 when the third quarter ended while the biggest lead of the game came early in the fourth after a 6-0 run extended the difference to 53-25.
Bradley finally broke loose in the waning minutes of the game to get a couple of 3s from Baylee Carroll and another from Whitney Donaldson, but the issue had long been decided at that point as subs from both teams finished the game.
Bradley coach Jason Reuter refused to blame Saturday’s misfortune on Wednesday’s result, but he looked visibly tired after making so many changes in such a short period of time.
“I’m extremely proud of this group as we played who we had, but it was a hard matchup and we didn’t have much time to prepare. We had to play more zone than we would have liked and we weren’t able to force our will as much, but we had five young ladies out there who played their hearts out.
“I certainly don’t like what happened Saturday, but we’re not going to let that ruin an otherwise great season. Sometimes life just isn’t fair, but we just have to move on.
“I know these girls are not real pleased right now, but they’ll be happy again in a few days and we’ll do our best to be back here next year. We’re losing four key seniors from this year’s team, but our goal will be getting back here next year,” Reuter concluded.
Copney scored 16 points to lead three Science Hill players in double figures. Keisha Gregory was next with a dozen while Enjelica Reid was next with 11.
Copeland was the only Bradley player in double figures as she finished with 17 points and 16 rebounds.
Carroll followed with nine while Donaldson added eight.
Science Hill had a 47-32 edge on the boards, including a 25-11 difference in the second half.
Reid and Knack had 11 and 10 rebounds, respectively, to lead the Lady Hilltoppers.
Science Hill 16 13 18 17 -- 64
Bradley 10 7 8 13 -- 38
SCIENCE HILL (64) – Tarter 6, En. Reid 11, Knack 8, Copney 16, Lyon 5, Head 3, Herrin, Webster, Gregory 12, Smith 1, Em. Reid, Fenley 1.
BRADLEY (38) – Withrow 3, Carroll 9, Donaldson 8, Whitted 1, Copeland 17, Hill, Davis, Stallings, Delane, Thompson, Pippenger.
3-POINT GOALS: Science Hill 6 (Knack 2, Copney, Head, Gregory 2); Bradley 4 (Withrow, Carroll 2, Donaldson).
(Email John Hunt at email@example.com)