MURFREESBORO, Tenn. -- The Bradley Central Bearettes are playing in the AAA State Championship for the first time since 1995 after defeating Oak Ridge 56-50 in an instant overtime classic.
The Bearettes were down four after a Khamari Mitchell-Steen free throw with just 38 seconds remaining in regulation. Jamaryn Blair then drew the foul to go the free throw line and hit a pair of free throws to cut the lead to two with 19 seconds left.
Blair then had to foul to stop the clock and Jada Guinn went to the free throw line and missed the front end of a 1-and-1 and senior Kaleigh Hughes collected the rebound to give Bradley Central (33-3) a chance to win or tie it. Then, after a timeout, Blair drove her way to the bucket and knotted things up at 43 as time expired and sent the game to overtime.
Carrying the momentum Bradley won the opening tip and Anna Walker made a bucket off a Hannah Lombard assist to take the lead and the game was on. The Bearettes began to stall, forcing Oak Ridge (34-3) to foul and the Bearettes held on to win from the free throw line, 56-50, to advance to their first state championship game since 1995.
Bradley was paced by Blair with 22 points, going 10-for-13 from the charity stripe. Walker threw in 18 points of her own and was a perfect 4-for-4 from the free throw line to go along with six rebounds, three steals, and three blocks. Lombard was the next highest with seven points while recording four steals, and a pair of blocks. Hughes pulled down six boards and dished a pair of assists in the winning effort.
Jada Guinn wrapped up her high school career with a double-double, scoring 15 points and bringing down 10 rebounds while recording six steals, four steals, and three blocks. Shatyrah Copeland paced her with 10 rebounds and Mitchell-Steen led the Lady Wildcats with 20 points.
The Bearettes shot 16-for-43 (37.2 percent) from the floor and 4-for-13 (30.8 percent) from distance. Bradley shot a calm and collective 20-of-25 (80 percent) from the free throw line while outscoring Oak Ridge 5-4 in bench scoring and 16-15 off turnovers.
Oak Ridge was 19-for-47 (40.4 percent) overall and 3-for-7 (42.9 percent) from behind the 3-point line. The Lady Wildcats went 9-for-15 (60 percent) from the charity stripe. Oak Ridge outscored Bradley 28-24 in the paint, 11-0 in second chance scoring, and 15-6 on fast breaks.
Bradley Central will face off with Houston in the championship game at 2:30 p.m. EST.
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Oak Ridge - 10 15 11 7 7 50
Bradley Central - 15 13 3 12 13 56
Oak Ridge (50): Khamari Mitchell-Steen 20, Dunbar 5, Eckles 2, Copeland 4, Jada Guinn 15, Davis 4.
Bradley Central (56): Hughes 4, Roberts, Jamaryn Blair 22, Anna Walker 18, Lombard 7, Mayo 3, Williams 2, Reuter, Barnes.
3-Pointers: Oak Ridge (3): Mitchell-Steen 2, Guinn. Bradley Central (4): Hughes, Walker 2, Mayo.