CLEVELAND, Tenn. -- The Bradley Central Bearettes came back and were able to hold off Oakland for their record 30th state tournament appearance on Saturday night inside Jim Smiddy Arena.
After Oakland (21-11) took a 36-35 lead off a Nicole Egerouh layup with 2:11 seconds left in the game the Bearettes responded. Bradley would go on an 8-1 run to finish the game and come away with the 43-37 victory.
The Lady Patriots got the ball rolling quickly jumping out to a 12-4 lead with 13 seconds to go in the first. Senior Kaleigh Hughes was able to hit a 3-pointer from an Anna Walker pass to close the gap to five at the buzzer and give the Bearettes a spark.
The second period started off with an Alexis Barnes traditional three-point play and Bradley Central (31-3) was able to take a one-point lead with a Cambree Mayo 3-pointer just under halfway through. Oakland regained the lead with a Faith Adams bucket and the two teams traded buckets to end the period. Bradley was able to outscore the guests 12-8 in the frame despite trailing by one at the half.
Adams had the first bucket of the second half but the Bearettes began to chip away. Walker a pair of free throws and followed it up with a 3-pointer off an Anna Roberts assist with 4:41 left in the period. Oakland regained the lead with 1:38 left off two Adams’ free throws. Bradley answered with a 5-1 spurt to end the third and take a three-point lead heading into the final stanza.
The fourth quarter was back and forth as Oakland knotted things up at 32 with a Taylor Morton 3-pointer from Adams with 5:10 left in the game. Walker answered just 30 seconds later off a Jamaryn Blair pass and the Lady Patriots regained the lead with 2:11 left.
The Bearettes responded as Walker hit her third 3-pointer of the night from Mayo with 1:48 remaining. Bradley then forced a turnover and Oakland had to foul to stop the clock.Blair hit a pair of free throws to extend the lead to four and the guests had a chance to cut the lead to one. Adams went up for the trey but was blocked by 5-foot-6-inch Blair, but the Lady Patriots would get the rebound and would be fouled on the following shot.
Sydney Blankenship hit one of the free throws and Bradley had a three-point lead with 28 seconds left. Blair hit a pair of free throws to put the Bearettes up five and Mayo came up with a block and Hughes found herself a rebound to ice the game. Walker hit the final shot of the night from the charity stripe with four seconds to go in the final period and Bradley completed the comeback and held on for the 43-37 win.
With the win, the Bearettes are heading to their 30th state tournament appearance, the most by any team, boys or girls, in the TSSAA.
Bradley was paced by Walker with 18 points to go along with four blocks. Blair was the next leading scorer dropping eight points in the contest and Mayo pitched in six of her own. Hughes led the way with four rebounds and Walker pulled down three. Senior Hannah Lombard led the team with three assists.
The Bearettes shot 13-for-35 (37.1 percent) overall and went 6-for-18 (33.3 percent) from behind the 3-point line. Bradley had a 68.8 percent (11-for-16) free throw percentage on the night.
The stout Bradley defense forced 15 turnovers and the Bearettes outscored Oakland 13-10 in points off turnovers. Both teams had two fast-break points and the Bradley bench continued their ways, outscoring the Lady Patriots bench 9-4.
Adams led the Oakland offense scoring 17 points and Claira McGowan was the next leading scorer 13. Olivia Perry pulled down a game-high 10 rebounds as the Lady Patriots outrebounded the hosts 27-14.
Oakland shot 50 percent (14-for-28) from the floor and 3-for-9 (33.3 percent) from distance. The guests shot a cold 40 percent (6-of-15) from the charity stripe in the game.
Oakland outscored Bradley in the paint 16-10 and 4-3 in second-chance scoring in the game.
Bradley Central will now await the draw to see who their next opponent is. The blind draw is scheduled for Sunday at 3 p.m. EST.
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Oakland - 12 8 7 10 37
Bradley Central - 7 12 11 13 43
Oakland (37): Adams 17, Puckett, Claira McGowan 13, Perry 1, Egeruoh 2, Blankenship 1, Morton 3.
Bradley Central (43): Hughes 3, Roberts 2, Blair 8, Anna Walker 18, Lombard 3, Barnes 3, Mayo 6, Williams, Reuter.
3-Pointers: Lebanon (3): McGowan 2, Morton. Bradley Central (6): Hughes, Walker 3, Mayo 2.