CLEVELAND, Tenn. - Bradley Central didn't look a team with payback on its mind the way it played in the first quarter of Friday's District 5-AAA girls' high school basketball game against Walker Valley. But afterward, the host Bearettes looked exactly like one.
Shaking off a seven-point deficit after one quarter, Bradley came on strong and avenged its only district loss of the season by beating the Lady Mustangs 58-41.
Bradley (13-5, 6-1) lost 45-38 at Walker Valley on Dec. 3, but Bearettes coach Jason Reuter indicated it was still fresh on his players' minds.
"Our girls have been waiting on this game from the time they left the gym at Walker Valley," Reuter said. "No offense to Walker Valley, but we were the ones that beat us up there. We couldn't make a bucket, a layup, a 3-pointer. We turned the ball over. It was just a slow death."
After a 4-0 start Friday, the Bearettes saw the Lady Mustangs outscore them 13-2 the rest of the first quarter. But with coach's daughter Rebecca Reuter scoring the first five points of the second quarter, Bradley outscored Walker Valley 13-3 in the second quarter and led by six at the break.
Post player Brooke Copeland scored the Bearettes' first two points but was held in check most of the first half. She scored 19 of her 23 points after halftime. when they outscored the Lady Mustangs 36-25.
Copeland's 20 rebounds and Reuter's 12 helped Bradley to a 52-28 advantage, and they combined for five blocks. Copeland was 9-of-10 on free throws, helping the Bearettes end up 19-for-25.
"We got away from our game plan," Walker Valley coach Jessica Stone said. "The first half we stuck to it. We wanted other people besides Brooke to beat us."
In a sense, other people did help beat the Lady Mustangs. Freshmen Emma Kate Brown and Halle Hughes scored 16 and 10 points off Bradley's bench, and Brown contributed nine rebounds and Hughes had three assists and no turnovers.
"That's what we've been missing," Coach Reuter said. "Brooke has been getting her 20; Rebecca has been getting her nine, 10, 11. They both have been getting their 9 or 10 boards. What we've been missing is others stepping up. Those freshmen are turning from a caterpillar to a butterfly slowly."
Coach Reuter also praised the effort of Chelsie Summars, who was limited to two points but had four assists and one turnover while running the show for the now first-place Bearettes.
"We control our own destiny," Coach Reuter said. "We knew going into this game it was probably going to decide the district championship. We've got to be very careful, but I know who should win the rest of our games."
Neither team shot well from the field, but the Lady Mustangs were worse at 26 percent. Their only double-figure scorer was Victoria Jones, whose points came on four 3-point goals. Lindsey Macon topped Walker Valley (12-7, 5-2) with 10 rebounds and five assists.
"It's a tight race," Stone said. "We've got two district games this week, so we've got to take care of business."
Contact Kelley Smiddie at email@example.com or 423-757-6653. Follow him at twitter.com/KelleySmiddie.