Bradley Central’s third-ranked girls can only hope their 55-46 victory over fourth-ranked Blackman on Saturday in a TSSAA Class AAA sectional at Bradley Central doesn’t turn out to be a bittersweet one.
The Bearettes earned a trip to the state tournament in Murfreesboro, starting Wednesday at Middle Tennessee State University. But they may have two Reuters on the bench for 32 minutes when they’d rather have just one.
Coach Jason Reuter’s daughter, Rebecca, a junior post player, was assessed technical fouls after her third and fifth personal fouls in the game against the Lady Blaze.
By TSSAA rule, if a basketball player receives two technical fouls and is ejected, he or she is ineligible to play the next two games.
TSSAA assistant executive director Matthew Gillespie said the state organization will not make a decision on Reuter’s case until Monday when it receives the officials’ report from the game.
Gillespie said if both technical fouls are considered for unsportsmanlike conduct, Reuter will be ruled ineligible.
If that happens, and the Bearettes lose their first game at MTSU, she’d also be out for next season’s opener.
“The same official called both of them,” coach Reuter said. “We could argue until we’re blue in the face whether they should’ve been called technicals or not. He called them.”
The second technical came with Bradley up 48-35 with 2:29 left for Reuter throwing an elbow after grabbing a rebound.
“The second one was a questionable call,” coach Reuter said. “I thought she was the one that got fouled.
“It’s one thing to foul a kid out; it’s another to call a technical on them. She slammed the ball down, but she caught it on the way back up. I don’t know if he was trying to keep the game close or what. I don’t know what he was thinking. We’ll find out.”
Crystal Dangerfield led the Lady Blaze with 15 points. Jazz Bond scored 12 and Alex Johnson contributed 11.
The Bearettes (29-2), who haven’t lost to a Tennessee team this season, overcame an early 13-5 deficit to take a 29-24 lead at the half.
Then they outscored the Lady Blaze 11-4 in the third quarter with Brooke Copeland scoring all of Bradley’s points in the period. Or as Coach Reuter put it, “Brooke was not going to let us lose.”
Copeland totaled 23 points and 13 rebounds. She said her motivation came from the home loss to Lawrence County in last year’s sectional.
“Every single day since, that game has been in the back of my mind,” Copeland said. “We may not play in as strong of a district as the one in Murfreesboro.
“We knew they were going to be a tough opponent. I didn’t care if I scored one point or had no rebounds. We knew we had to play team ball to get it done, and that’s what we did.”
A stifling zone defense was a catalyst for the Bearettes, who fended off Blackman’s late comeback effort by making seven of eight free throws in the final 40.8 seconds.
“I thought the start of the third quarter we came out complacent,” Blackman coach Chad Hibdon said of his 26-5 team, which to lost an opponent other than Riverdale for the first time. “They extended their zone. They’re big, and they’re good at it.”
Kayla Witherow supported Copeland with 18 points, including 5-for-5 3-point shooting.
Bradley Central 55, Blackman 46
Blackman 17 7 4 18 — 46
Bradley Central 20 9 11 15 — 55
Blackman (46) — Norris, Pollock 8, Crystal Dangerfield 15, Alex Johnson 11, Jazz Bond 12, Allen, Killings, Miller.
Bradley Central (55) — Kayla Withrow 18, Donaldson 4, Whitted 4, Brooke Copeland 23, Reuter 6, Carroll.