In a battle of the state's top-ranked girls' basketball teams, the outcome was decided by a dominant defensive performance from Bradley Central junior TaTianna Stovall.
Stovall took a tough assignment to heart as the 6-foot-1 forward — who has offers from Florida, UTC, Belmont and Kennesaw State among others — shut down McMinn Central senior Molly Masingale, herself one of the best guards in the state.
Class 2A's top-ranked Chargerettes were held to 24.6% shooting from the field as Stovall took charge by blocking six shots while adding 19 rebounds and 10 points to lead the seven-time state champion Bearettes to a 56-44 victory inside a packed Jim Smiddy Arena Monday night.
"The job she did on Masingale was pretty impressive. She held her to two points in the first half and she could not turn the corner on TaTianna tonight," said Bradley Central coach Jason Reuter, whose No. 1-ranked 4A team improved to 23-1 overall.
"We put TaTianna on Lauren Hurst from Cleveland and Knoxville Catholic's Sydney Mains. When she goes to college there will be a lot of reasons and a lot of them will be her defense. She is able to guard smaller, quicker people and is able to guard bigs too. That is a luxury you don't have with everybody."
Stovall exacted revenge on McMinn Central (22-3), who she fouled out against earlier in the year when Masingale and teammate Karina Bystry each scored 29 points.
The Chargerettes had a pair of 3-point attempts blocked by Stovall, who produced a season-high in both blocks and rebounds. It was her third game with at least five blocks.
"The key was for us to stay in front of them and to not let them drive or get an easy 3-point shot," said Stovall, who is averaging 13 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks per game in her first season at Bradley Central after winning back-to-back state titles with Webb Bell-Buckle.
"Masingale got 10 fouls on us last game and tonight she only got three. We definitely got better. I don't think anybody can stop us when we are on top of our game. Our defense definitely led the way in this one."
Sophomore sensation Kimora Fields provided plenty of offensive firepower once again after scoring a career-high 41 points in the thrilling one-point overtime road victory over McMinn Central on November 28. Fields scored a game-high 24 points by making 8-of-10 from the field and 8-of-11 from the free throw line, and added 13 rebounds.
Bradley Central's Addie Geren drilled her third 3-pointer of the game to close a 13-0 run in the third quarter that put the hosts up comfortably 42-27.
"We are not playing for the same gold ball, so I am pulling for McMinn Central to win it all," Reuter said. "For them to win it all would be a complement to us because we beat them twice. I don't have any better friends in Class 2A basketball, so I am pulling for Coach (Johnny) Morgan."
Contact Patrick MacCoon at firstname.lastname@example.org.