The score at the end of the first quarter didn’t reflect Siegel boys’ basketball coach Ben Dotson’s two-word comment after Monday’s TSSAA Class AAA state sectional at Bradley Central.
But the final score did.
When asked when he thought his team had the pace of the game to his liking, he answered, “The tip.” Thirty-two minutes later his team was state-tournament bound after defeating Bradley Central 59-38.
Sixth-ranked Siegel (28-5) is one of the eight remaining teams in its classification that will compete for a state championship in its hometown of Murfreesboro. Action at Middle Tennessee State University begins March 13.
Siegel didn’t get a layup off the opening tip, but it didn’t take more than 20 seconds before Dominique Gooch scored on a drive from the left side. The Stars never trailed, but their 12-9 lead after one quarter was moderate compared to what was to come.
“They’re a great shooting team and they were playing at home,” Dotson said. “You can’t take any possession off in that situation. I thought we came out and matched them shot for shot.”
But beginning with Siegel’s 11-0 run to start the second quarter, the Bears were soon unable to match the Stars shot for shot.
“They’re more physical than us at pretty much every position,” Bradley coach Kent Smith said. “We knew we were going to have to shoot the ball well, especially from the outside. When they get it they’re looking to go north and south and they’re going to the rim.
“To have a chance we had to shoot it very, very well, and we didn’t. We didn’t get many second shots, and they get the ball down the floor as quick as anybody.”
Bradley was within 27-17 before Siegel scored the last seven points of the first half. The Stars’ first 20-point lead was early in the second half, and after they went up 45-23, they led by more than 20 the rest of the way.
“We don’t run a whole lot of plays,” Dotson said. “We’re just looking to run the break and get down the floor.”
Gooch scored eight of his 17 points in the first quarter and ended up leading Siegel, which because of a knee injury have been playing without senior Robert Brandon since late January. Dotson said Brandon was averaging 18.0 points per game at the time.
Ryan Jones added 15 for the Stars. Damien Clark scored eight of his nine points in their 22-point second quarter.
Junior Taylor Bentley’s 12 points paced Bradley (19-13), and he and Bryce Copeland made two 3-point goals each. Copeland, a four-year starter at guard, closed out his career with eight points when he fouled out with 1:35 to play.
“We won a region championship with this team after losing seven seniors,” Smith said. “We had to play Cleveland on their floor three times and beat them there. Being one of the final 16 teams is a pretty good thing for this bunch.”
Siegel 59, Bradley Central 38
Siegel 12 22 17 8 — 59
Bradley 9 8 9 12 — 38
Siegel: C. Clark 4, Gooch 17, Jones 15, Burton 5, D. Clark 9, Martin 3, Simpson 4, Steward 2.
Bradley Central (38) — Copeland 8, Cox, Bentley 12, Cain 2, Whitmire 6, McGowan, Clark 7, McCurdy 3.