For the seventh straight year District 5-3A girls’ basketball coaches failed on Wednesday to select Bradley Central’s Jason Reuter as the league’s coach of the year.
Reuter’s Bearettes (25-0 overall, 11-0 in the district) are two games shy of finishing off an undefeated regular season. They host Ooltewah on Friday and non-district foe Maryville on Monday at Jim Smiddy Arena.
Bradley beat the Lady Owls 79-23 and Lady Rebels 56-52 earlier in the season.
The Bearettes have beaten Ooltewah 35 straight times
The district’s coaches’ shunning Reuter at Wednesday’s tournament luncheon in Soddy-Daisy would equate to the late Pat Summitt of Tennessee never receiving an SEC Coach of the Year award at any point during her illustrious career that was tragically cut short by Alzheimer’s.
The numbers that define Reuter’s seven-year tenure at Bradley Central are astounding.
Under his leadership, the Bearettes have won 95 of 99 district games, including regular season and postseason matchups. Reuter has a 193-27 won-loss overall record.
Reuter has taken the Bearettes to three state tournaments in four years and lost in the semifinals last season to Oak Ridge. Yet, Reuter wasn’t even on three of the six ballots coaches turned in.
The last time Bradley went 25-0 was in 1978-79 and they lost the final regular season game to Brainerd and then lost to the same team in the region tournament. Bradley finished 28-3.
Bradley’s girls have a 36-game district winning streak and have won 41 straight league games at home.
Reuter has lost back-to-back games ONCE. Last season Bradley beat South Doyle to open its schedule and then lost to William Blount and Bearden in its next two games. The Bearettes’ season ended with a 32-4 record.
The last time Bradley lost a home district game was on Dec. 3, 2010, when Walker Valley posted a 53-42 victory. It was the first district game Reuter coached.
He hasn’t lost to a league foe in “The Smiddy” SINCE.
Reuter has taken the Bearettes to 34 consecutive region tournaments and 59 of the last 60. The only year they missed was in 1984 when Cleveland eliminated them in the district tournament opener 43-41.
Casey Stengel, the New York Yankees’ baseball genius who managed some of the best players on the planet from 1949-60, won nine American League pennants, seven World Series titles and never won fewer than 92 games in a 154-game season.
Stengel was named AL Manager of the Year three times.
What about John Wooden?
The “Wizard of Westwood” coached UCLA to 10 NCAA championships, including seven straight from 1967-73. Wooden’s Bruins also had some of the best players in the land.
Wooden’s teams once won 88 straight games, spent 134 weeks ranked No. 1 by AP, had 54 consecutive winning season (1949-2002), posted four undefeated seasons when they went 30-0 (1964, 1967, 1972 and 1973) and appeared in 25 Final Fours, including 10 straight from 1967-1976).
Wooden, who had a 1,833-812 record, was named national coach of the year six times.
The local slight of Reuter, hasn’t always been directed at the coach.
One of many outstanding Bearette players, Brittany Jackson, scored 2,470 career points in three years, the third all-time best for Bradley girls. She once scored 50 points against Rhea County in 2001, but was not named the district’s player of the year.
She was, however, selected TSSAA Miss Basketball that season, all-state for the second year in a row and nominated for the McDonald’s All-America team. She went on to play at Tennessee. Her jersey has been retired.
In the 2013-14 season, Brooke Copeland, who is No. 8 on Bradley’s career scoring list with 2,014 points and now playing at the University of Florida, was chosen as the district’s player of the year.
Her coach, Reuter, did not get a similar honor for coaching the team.
After the Bearettes notched a 63-28 win over Cleveland in the tournament semifinals, Copeland said, “We have a chip on our shoulder because people are disrespecting us. We only got two girls on the all-district team; that’s ridiculous. Two other teams have three players on that team. We should have three or four. And in my four years here we’ve dominated this district and coach Reuter has never won the coach of the year award. That’s crazy.”
Two days later the Bearettes trounced McMinn County 62-38 for the girls’ title.
The fewest games a Reuter-coached squad has won in a season is 22 (six losses) in 2015-16.
They are 13 wins better than that right now and no other district team has won more than 17 times (McMinn County) at this point in the season.
Tony Williams, then at East Hamilton, was the 2015-16 coach of the year. Bradley beat East Hamilton twice by a combined 18 points. Bradley’s Rhyne Howard was the MVP.
Hunter Gremore, who replaced Williams when he moved to Cleveland, was chosen the 2016-17 top coach Wednesday. Bradley has beaten East Hamilton twice – they could meet again later – by a total of 59 points.
Howard is this year’s MVP again – she was also on the all-district team as an eighth-grader at East Hamilton and as a freshman and sophomore after transferring to Bradley.
No disrespect is meant toward any of the league’s coaches. However, there are folks who don’t believe that’s a two-way street when it comes to Reuter.
Gremore has been coaching 20 years, including girls and boys teams.
“It’s a situation where other coaches expect Jason to win 30 games every year, but when a coach is beating people by 50 points or more that means he’s doing a heck of a job, ” Gremore said. “I’ve seen this type thing before from both sides back in my old district.”
Gremore received five of the six first-place votes for 15 points Wednesday to win the coaching award. Williams got eight points while Walker Valley’s Paul Cretton and McPhail six each.
Reuter received one second-place vote and two thirds for four points.
“I’m not sure why that is,” McPhail said. “He’s done a really good job to win six straight regular-season titles. I don’t think it’s jealousy. Everybody has been chasing him for a long time. It’s kind of odd.”
Williams and Gremore are both solid coaches and deserve coaching awards. So did Cleveland’s Mindy Kiser in 2014-15. Kiser did beat the Bearettes once that season (49-40). Giver her that. Bradley avenged the loss with a 78-40 blowout later on. Cleveland’s Jenna Scoggins was the MVP.
Reuter has registered three unbeaten district seasons and is gunning for a fourth on Friday at Ooltewah.
The Bearettes’ two most lopsided victories this season came against Soddy-Daisy, which is hosting this year’s tournament. Bradley won the two games by 78 and 75 points.
“Every year he has great talent,” Lady Trojans coach Drew Lyness said. “I want to be politically correct … East Hamilton was picked to finish fourth and they finished second. They overachieved and that’s good to see.”
Amy Tinsley played at Bradley Central for (coach) Paul Cretton and is now an assistant coach on Reuter’s staff.
“I have never been around a head coach who works harder as that man (Reuter),” she said. “He sleeps, eats and breathes basketball. Against the schedule we play, we’re 25-0 and that’s because of great players and a great coaches. They usually give the award to coaches that come closest to beating Bradley. We think coach Reuter deserves to be coach of the year.”
Boys coaches also voted for the top players, the MVP and coach of the year.
Like the Bearettes, Cleveland was the preseason pick to win the regular season title. The Blue Raiders won 11 of 12 games, losing only to East Hamilton, and claimed the championship.
Guess who was voted coach of the year? Yep, the Blue Raiders’ Jason McCowan.
The boys got it right.
Ain’t that a crazy idea.
About the tournament
Action will begin on Feb. 15 at Soddy-Daisy High School.
Cleveland is the No. 1-seeded boys’ team and East Hamilton second. Both teams drew byes into the semifinals and already have Region 3-3A tourney spots secured. The Boys consolation and title games are slated for Feb. 21 at 6 and 7:30 p.m.
Reuter’s Bearettes, ranked second in Tennessee by coacht.com and No. 2 by USA Today’s computer ratings, are the clear-cut favorites to win the girls’ division with East Hamilton in the No. 2 slot. Like the boys, the two top-seeded girls’ bye into the semifinals and have berths in the Region 3-3A tourney already in their back pocket.
The girls’ third-place and championship games will be played on Feb. 20 at 6 and 7:30 p.m.
2016-17 All-District 5-3A Teams
Coach of the Year – Hunter Gremore, East Hamilton
Bradley Central – Rhyne Howard (Player of the Year, unanimous), Halle Hughes, Kimia Carter
East Hamilton – Madison Hayes, Dezah Lacy
Walker Valley – Abbey Davis, Haley Jones, Lauren Lay
McMinn County – Kaitlynn Hennessee
Cleveland – Sofia Stamatiadis, Emma Flowers, Amber Morman
Soddy-Daisy – Alexis Trimiar
Coach of the Year – Jason McCowan, Cleveland
Cleveland – KK Curry, Dionte Ware, Diontae Davis, Mullek Bradford
East Hamilton – Justin Dozier, Noah Fager, DaVae Hughley
Bradley Central – Cole Copeland (MVP), Ty Beavers
Walker Valley – Kolten Gibson, Bryce Nunnelly
McMinn County – Tauren Jones
Soddy-Daisy – Jake Flippo
(Contact Larry Fleming at email@example.com and on Twitter @larryfleming44)