Bradley Central basketball coach Chuck Clark challenged his Bears on Tuesday with several incentives, including sleeping in and going through a 30- to 40-minute shoot-around on Wednesday.
That must have been music to the Bears’ collective ears.
Bradley Central used a 28-6 first-half run to gain the upper hand and cruised to a 65-44 District 5-AAA victory over Soddy-Daisy in the Trojans’ gym.
In the girls game, the visiting Bearettes surpassed the Bears when it came to an impressive run, wiping out Soddy-Daisy’s early 4-3 lead by scoring the game’s next 32 points and won in a mercy-rule 71-31 rout.
It was the Bearettes’ 25th consecutive win over the Lady Trojans.
Daniel Clark paced the Bears (9-7, 5-0) with 15 points. Bradley McCurdy and Sam Gregory each scored 10.
Tucker Landreth led Soddy-Daisy (7-6, 0-4) with 18 points.
“We played as well as we have played in a long time,” Clark said.
The Bears were playing for more than just a win.
“I gave them an incentive, some challenges,” the coach said. “If they met chose challenges we’d let them sleep in and come in at 1 o’clock and spend 30-40 minutes shooting. If they didn’t execute and play fundamental basketball we’d come in at 8:30 (a.m.), go to the weight room and have a 2-hour practice.
“We’re going in at 1. They’ll be home by 2:15 or 2:30. They really played well tonight.”
Soddy-Daisy led 4-2 when Bradley’s Logan Cox hit a 3. Landreth answered with a 3 and the Trojans were up 7-5.
That’s the last time Soddy-Daisy saw the lead.
The Bears outscored the Trojans 12-0 to end the first quarter with a 10-point lead – the scoring spree was divided among five players – Gregory, Cox, Clark, Taylor Bentley and Cole Copeland.
Bradley continued the offensive romp with 16 second-quarter points to stretch the lead to 33-13. Baylor Terrell, Copeland, Gregory, Clark and Bentley had a hand in the scoring – Copeland had five points.
Landreth’s two 3s accounted for Soddy-Daisy’s six points in the Bears’ run.
Andy Wright and Jacob Floyd hit field goals and Landreth added the third of his four 3s, enabling the Trojans to close the halftime gap to 33-19.
“We didn’t shoot the ball well, we didn’t’ rebound the ball well,” Soddy-Daisy coach Reid Daniels said. “Rebounding really hurt us. We’re not getting the shots we want and we’re taking bad shots.”
The Bears, who kept up a warp-speed pace throughout the game and pressured the Trojans into numerous mistakes while committing just seven turnovers themselves, did just about everything right in the game-changing streak.
“We don’t mind playing up-tempo at all,” coach Clark said. “If we don’t have something initially off the break, then we’re going to be patient and execute our half-court game. I wasn’t real happy with our execution in the first half off some sets when (Soddy-Daisy) went to the man defense.
“I can’t be mad, though. When we weren’t executing it was on plays we just put in over the Christmas break. That’s my fault.”
The Bears, who don’t play until Jan. 14 when they visit East Hamilton, outscored the Trojans 13-6 starting the third quarter and padded the lead to 46-25. Clark had six points in that quick burst.
After Landreth made two free throws to start the fourth period, Clark drove the baseline and put up a reverse layup, hit a free throw for a 51-30 advantage.
Soddy-Daisy’s Ross Eller scored on a layup, Bentley snapped off a short bank shot and Landreth and Eller made shots. The Trojans still trailed 53-36 with 4:05 left.
Bentley hit a nifty bank shot and added a free throw, Terrell drained a 3 from the right wing, Gregory dropped in a layup, Tucker Maroon ripped a 3 from the right corner and Walker McCowan tossed in a free throw as Bradley zipped into a 63-36 lead with 1:51 remaining.
“Sometimes this group needs incentives,” coach Clark said. “I gave them some and they played a complete game tonight. We only had seven turnovers and outrebounded (Soddy-Daisy) by 10 or 12 and forced a lot of turnovers.
“When you outrebound people and don’t turn the ball over but seven times, that’s pretty good.”
Soddy-Daisy returns to the court on Thursday to host Red Bank and then tangle with Ooltewah on Friday in another district game.
“Until a couple games ago we were averaging about 68 points, which is not too shabby,” Daniels said. “We have not come off the Christmas break real well. We’ve been rusty. We have to go back to work, polish up some things and motivate these guys.”
Halle Hughes scored a game-high 18 points for Bradley’s girls (11-5, 4-1) with 18 points while senior posts Brooke Copeland and Rebecca Reuter each scored 14.
It was Bradley’s 25th consecutive win over the Lady Trojans dating to Jan. 11, 2000.
“Tonight was a lot like the weather,” Bradley coach Jason Reuter said. “We came out cold, the gym was cold and our shooting was cold. Once we started making shots our transition came along and we had better athletes than Soddy-Daisy.
“Halle made a few and got our motor started and 12 of our 13 players scored. There are two types of teams – the one getting better and the one getting worse. We’ve got to keep the hammer down.”
Reuter and Kailey McCree each pulled down eight rebounds for the Bearettes, who hit 13 of 28 of their two-point shots, 7 of 19 from 3-point distance and 22 of 27 free throws. Bradley had a 34-25 edge in rebounding.
Chelsie Summars had eight of the team’s 20 assists and Copeland came up with five steals.
Soddy-Daisy hit 7 of 28 shots and 4 of 13 3s.
Mallory Wade paced the Lady Trojans with eight points.
Bradley Central 17 16 15 17 – 65
Soddy-Daisy 7 12 9 16 – 44
Bradley Central (65) – McGowan 1, Daniel Clark 15, Copeland 7, Maroon 5, Bentley 8, Bradley McCurdy 10, Sam Gregory 10, Cox 7, Morgan, Crisp 2.
Soddy-Daisy (44) – Amos 2, Tucker Landreth 18, Carter, Wright 9, Jeffries, York 4, Floyd 5, Whymer 2, Eller 4.
3-Point Goals: Bradley Central 6 (McCurdy 3, Maroon, Bentley, Cox); Soddy-Daisy 6 (Landreth 4, Wright, Floyd).
Bradley Central 12 23 23 13 – 71
Soddy-Daisy 4 3 15 9 – 31
Bradley Central (71) – Hubbard 2, Halle Hughes 18, Davis 8, Brown, Gaither 1, Stallings 3, Brooke Copeland 14, Delane 3, Summars 2, Rebecca Reuter 14, Brumfield 2, McCree 4.
Soddy-Daisy (31) – Harris 3, Hale 3, Hopkins 5, Sims 2, Smith, King 7, Ward 3, Phillips, Hancock, Woodward, Mallory Wade 8.
3-Point Goals: Bradley Central 6 (Hughes 2, Davis 2, Stallings, Reuter); Soddy-Daisy 3 (Wade 2, Ward).
(E-mail Larry Fleming at firstname.lastname@example.org)