The rest of District 5-AAA continues to chase the Bradley Central girls.
Anna Walker, Alexis Barnes and Anna Muhonen were strong in a 58-50 road victory Tuesday as the top-ranked and defending state champion Bearettes took down East Hamilton for the third time in as many tries this season.
With Walker stretching out to the wing where she hit four second-half 3-pointers and also assisted her fellow bigs down low, the post trio — all 5-foot-11 and above — combined for 42 points and held their opposition to just three offensive rebounds (33-18 total).
"We got more interior action going down the stretch," said Jason Reuter, who is looking to guide Bradley Central (16-3, 7-0) to its 10th district championship in as many seasons as coach of the legendary program that has six state championships.
"Anna was struggling in the first half, but even with her poor shooting early she never flinched. That's what I love about her. (East Hamilton's) Madison Hayes is one of the better female athletes we have ever gone against, and to also hold them to one shot (per possession) for the majority of the night was the biggest thing."
Walker, a UTC signee, has displayed her versatility and is Bradley's best outside shooter.
After Hayes tied the game at 33 with two free throws with 1:51 left in the third quarter, a trend occurred the rest of the way.
Walker buried a 3-pointer from in front of her team bench and Barnes made a layup off a nice hustle play started by Cambree Mayo on the other end for a five-point lead at the end of the third.
A fourth and final trey from Walker went in with 4:42 left to play and was followed a minute later by Barnes finishing through contact with her left hand and converting a three-point play for a 49-39 lead with 3:40 to go.
Barnes completed a stretch of seven straight baskets for the visitors by either her or Walker.
While the Bearettes let their lead drop to four late, they survived ill-advised decisions along with Hayes scoring 11 of her game-high 25 points in the fourth quarter.
Hayes, a McDonald's All-American nominee and top 25 finalist for the Naismith Trophy, produced a highlight when the Mississippi State signee hit a difficult layup going through both Muhonen and Walker.
"Any night we go on the court we have a chance," East Hamilton coach Hunter Gremore said. "Every game I know we have the best player on the court, no matter who we are playing. Tournament time will be fun, but we have to figure out a way.
"Nine of our 11 losses have come down to a one- or two-score game in the final minute. We are there and can do it. We just have to start believing we can win them and play with more positive energy."
Walker led the Bearettes with 15 points and was followed by Barnes and Muhonen with 14 and 13. Barnes finished 5-of-8 from the field and 4-of-5 from the line.
Eliziah Laboo showed off her range for the Lady Hurricanes (11-11, 4-3) in the third quarter, when the left-hander scored eight of her 10 points. McKenna Hayes added nine and hit a pair of 3s.
"This one's not over with," Reuter said of his team's battles with East Hamilton, which previously had been won by 35 and by four in overtime. "There's a good chance we see them in the district and region tournaments.
"We know everybody is chasing us. No one is cheering for us in the district. We can't worry about our streak (76 straight district wins). We have to worry about us."
Contact Patrick MacCoon at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @PMacCoon.