ENGLEWOOD, Tenn. -- Although his team had built a 10-point halftime lead against McMinn Central on Tuesday, Bradley Central girls' basketball coach Jason Reuter knew the Chargerettes weren't going to go down without a fight.
And he was right. At times the second half was just that -- a fight.
Brooke Copeland had 14 points, 16 rebounds and four blocked shots, and the Bearettes improved to 3-0 with a 49-43 road victory over the defending Class AA state champions, who had won 23 straight home games.
There were 48 fouls and 53 free throws. Seventeen fouls were called in the third quarter alone.
The teams combined to make 24 free throws in the final 24 minutes -- as compared to 10 total field goals. Bradley won despite not hitting a single 3-pointer.
"We knew it was going to be tough up here," Reuter said. "We expected a physical battle -- it's a trademark of Johnny Morgan's teams. We didn't shoot well, but as hard as this game was, I'm proud of how the girls played."
The Bearettes used a 13-0 run in the second quarter to build a 25-13 advantage. They led 29-19 at halftime, but McMinn Central closed the deficit to 31-28 on a score inside by Elizabeth Masengil, who led all scorers with 28 points and added 10 rebounds. The junior hit all five of her team's second-half field goals.
"I told the girls that there was no way they were going to lay down," Reuter said. "They are going to come at us with every ounce of energy they had. How would we respond?"
Bradley stretched the lead to eight on a drive by Emily McCracken to start the fourth quarter. The Chargerettes cut the lead to three one final time, when a three-point play by Masengil with 6:25 to go made it 39-36.
The Bearettes were 8-for-12 from the foul line the rest of the way, adding a layup by Chelsie Summars for the final tally. They finished 17-for-30 at the charity stripe; McMinn Central was 19-for-23, with Masengil going 14-for-17 at the line.
Caroline Smith and Kayla Beavers had 13 and nine points with seven rebounds apiece for Bradley.
McMinn Central freshman Kelsey Myers hit two 3s to start the game and was second on the team in scoring with eight.
"We played hard, but we played awful," Morgan said. "In the first half, we gave up a lot of uncontested layups. If we get back on defense, they have at most a six-point lead and possibly have to chase us in the second half.
"I thought we played hard, but we didn't play to win. To be successful, we have to learn to take things one possession at a time. Get one stop; get one score."
Said Reuter: "McMinn Central outplayed us to start the second half. They earned the right for a momentum shift. I think that in building that first-half lead, we won the game in the first half, because although they nipped at our heels in the second half, we were able to hold them off."