CLEVELAND, Tenn. -- With his team having played Hamilton Heights four night earlier, Bradley Central boys' basketball coach Chuck Clark crafted a game plan to stop 6-foot-4 Hawks point guard Aleksa Jugovic -- who had scored 19 points in the prior meeting -- when the teams played again Tuesday.
That just paved the way for sophomore center Abdulhakim Ado.
The 6-foot-11 Ado finished with 41 points, 17 rebounds and seven blocks, and the Hawks used a strong defensive third quarter to defeat the Bears 72-54 in the opening game of the Cleveland Murmaid Mattress Classic at Walker Valley.
The Bears' full-court pressure forced 18 turnovers, but when they didn't, it usually equaled a dunk for Ado, who played sparingly last Friday due to early foul trouble. He exited Tuesday's game after hitting two free throws with 52.9 seconds remaining.
"The team did a really good job of finding me today," Ado said. "We had just played against them. We didn't play bad, but we decided to come out with full energy today."
The Hawks (6-0) jumpes to an 18-9 lead in the first quarter. Bradley followed that with a 13-0 run to take a three-point lead in the second quarter, but an Ado dunk that turned into a three-point play gave Hamilton Heights the lead for good. The Hawks ramped up the defensive intensity in the third quarter, stretching that lead to 18 at one point. It topped out at 19 in the fourth quarter.
"Bradley is a great team. They never stop and always compete no matter what's going on, so it's a great, hard-fought win," Hamilton Heights coach Zach Ferrell said. "We knew we'd have to compete from start to finish today, but the guys did a good job looking to Ado, and he did a good job of finishing."
Taylor Bentley led the Bears (1-3) with 18 points. Logan Cox had 12 and Cole Copeland had 11.
"The kids did what they were supposed to do," Clark said, "but big boy gets all the rebounds. It takes two to push that son of a gun out of the paint.
"We're taking baby steps now. We just got our football players back and it's hard to get a whole lot of our offensive sets in, so we're crawling. We'll start walking shortly, and before long we're be running."
Contact Gene Henley at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6311. Follow him at twitter.com/genehenleytfp.