Article by Joe Cannon (Cleveland Daily Banner)
Jim Smiddy Arena saw a barnburner and a blowout Tuesday evening with the host Bradley Central hoops squads taking both.
An offensive rebound putback in the final second of the game by senior Taye Cobb lifted the Bears to an exciting 62-61 District 5-AAA victory over Ooltewah.
“When Lameric (Tucker) drove and put up his shot (for a potential game-winner), I felt like the ball was going to come out. I was able to get into position to get it and put it back in,” declared 6-foot-4 transfer Cobb, who’s in his first season with the Bears.
“This (playing at Bradley) has been great. The team is really bonded together. We’re like brothers. We fight for each other every time on the court. Getting the game-winner feels great.”
“It was huge for him (Cobb) to be able to grab that rebound and get it back off before time ran out,” declared Bradley head coach Chuck Clark. “He has come in and really provided some good leadership for us and is making some big plays.”
Before the thrilling nightcap, the Bradley girls had little trouble in dispensing with the Lady Owls for the 34th straight time, this one by an 89-22 margin.
“We shot the ball the best we have all year (67 percent overall from the field, 50 percent on 3-pointers), plus we had 24 assists and 29 made buckets, and that’s great,” praised Bearette head coach Jason Reuter.
The Bradley teams will hit the road to Cumberland Mountain Frida,y for a big region showdown with Stone Memorial.
“Stone (7-2) is very tough. They are the best team up there (District 6-AAA) in my opinion and I think we are the best down here, although East Hamilton might have something to say about that, so this could be a preview of things to come,” Reuter remarked.
“Their only two losses this year have come to Riverdale and Cumberland County, in a big rivalry game,” he added as his Bearettes improved to 8-0 on the season and 2-0 in 5-AAA play.
The Black-and-Gold will travel to East Hamilton for a big district matchup on Monday.
BEARS 62, OWLS 61
Although Bradley (4-4, 1-1) held the lead from early in the opening period until the last 152 seconds, the difference never reached double digits as both teams were running-and-gunning.
The Bears broke open a 4-all tie with a basket by Cobb from the paint, then a quick a steal, plus a hoop and some harm on a fast-break bucket by Tucker, that the senior converted to an old fashioned three-point play with 4:29 in the first period.
Building that advantage to 18-12 when the first horn sounded, Bradley led 38-31 at the halftime intermission.
Coming out of the break, both teams struggled some early, with Ooltewah (3-3, 0-2) able to close a pair of nine-point gaps to just four (46-42) heading into the final frame.
The hosts were able to keep the visitors at bay for the first half of the fourth period, but then the Owls started pecking away, taking their first lead since the opening minutes of the contest with a three-point play by Cam Chambers with 2:32 left on the clock.
After the teams traded single free throws, the boys from Hamilton County were able to go up by three points on an offensive rebound putback of their own.
Cobb closed the gap to a single point with a pair of free throws with 1:03 remaining, but Chambers did the same for the Owls a few seconds later.
After freshman Tray Curry once again made it a one-point difference with a shot from the lane, Ooltewah made good on a pair of freebies.
Tucker was able to drive the lane for a basket with 18.9 showing and this time when the Bears had to foul, the visitors couldn’t convert leaving a single point separating the teams with the Bears in control of the ball.
Tucker brought the ball downcourt and saw his opening but this time when he banked the shot off the glass, it rimmed out and Cobb was there to grab the ball and power it back up and in with 0.8 on the clock for the win.
In a very balanced scoring attack, Cobb led Bradley with 12 points, plus he grabbed eight rebounds.
Curry returned to the lineup for 10 points, four caroms, three thefts and a couple of blocks.
“Curry had been out sick for a week and only got in one practice before coming back tonight, so it was good to have him playing well,” praised Coach Clark.
Sophomore Saylor Clark helped out with nine points, five ricochets, an assist, a steal and a blocked shot.
Tucker garnered eight markers, four steals and a pair of “dimes.”
Senior Jared Elrod netted seven, plus had a half dozen rebounds, an assist and a block, while freshman Mason Rothwell also finished with seven points, four boards and a theft.
Junior Tyler Ferguson collected six caroms, three points and a couple of blocks.
“We controlled the game until there at the end, but these guys did some growing up tonight, sticking in there and pulling this one out,” assessed Coach Clark.
“They showed a lot of character and guts. They found out what AAA ball is all about. We hurt ourselves again with our free throw shooting (13-of-24), but we hung in there.
“Our growth process may be higher that anyone else in the district, but the ceiling’s the limit for these guys. We have a chance to be a decent team by the end of the season,” the veteran mentor stated.