CLEVELAND, Tenn. -- With plenty of questions stil facing his team in the early stage of the season, Bradley Central's first-year basketball coach Chuck Clark was glad to see his team find an answer to rival Cleveland on Tuesday night.
The Bears connected on four of their first five 3-point attempts to build an early lead, then got hot from the outside again early in the third to rebuild a comfortable margin before holding on for a 45-42 District 5-AAA home win.
"We played good at times and it was ugly at times, but we'll take it. It's a win over our rival," said Clark, whose team made eight 3-pointers, including five by senior Logan Cox.
"Logan hasn't been shooting well lately, but he came on tonight and hopefully that will get him going now," Clark continued. "Once he does, it'll be a lot hard for teams to play zone against us.
"We've had a nine-man rotation and we want to figure out exactly which guys we know we can count on. We've got half our 28 guys on varsity or jayvee who also played football, so they're still adjusting and getting their basketball legs under them."
Neither team looked to have their basketball legs in the early going, as both missed their first five field goal attempts before Cole Copeland's jumper with 3:43 left in the first quarter, starting a 13-0 run for the Bears.
After Cleveland closed within four early in the third, Taylor Bentley answered with a 3-pointer and a steal and layup to kickstart a 9-0 run. Bradley's lead reached double digits in the fourth before the Blue Raiders chipped away late, closing the margin.
"This is a huge win for us because we put so much into this rivalry," said Cox, who finished with a team-high 15 points.
"The adrenaline got me going early and once I hit that first 3-pointer I felt confident from then on.
"We were picked to finish fifth in the district in the preseason and we felt like that was kind of a slap in the face. We feel like we've got something to prove."
Contact Stephen Hargis at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6293.