It got the Bears’ attention.
Bradley Central responded with 19 straight points from midway through the third quarter until 4:49 of the fourth in a 56-27 victory at the Murphy Center.
The 27 points were a season low for the Lady Trailblazers, who hit just 5 of 33 attempts from the field. They had gotten down 27-13 in the first half when Bradley Central posted a 13-4 advantage in offensive rebounds.
“The score shows how good their defense was in the half court,” Boone coach Travis Mains said. “They transitioned from pressing us into playing really good man-to-man defense. We have really good players, and it’s hard to keep players like Macie (Culbertson), Bayleigh (Carmichel) and Jaycie (Jenkins) out of the paint. They did a really good job of getting us out of the paint and doing what we want to do.”
Daniel Boone ended its season (30-5), while Bradley Central, which won a November matchup between the teams 56-43, improved to 33-0.
Carmichel led Boone with eight points, while leading scorer Culbertson went 1 of 11 from the field and finished with five points. Still, Culbertson was able to reflect on the outstanding season in which Boone hit the 30-win milestone.
“Our goal all year was to make it to the state,” Culbertson said. “At the end of the season, we played really good teams and had really good practices to get here. It didn’t end like we wanted, but at the end of the day, we did get 30 wins.”
MORE GOALS ACCOMPLISHED
The plan wasn’t to let Bradley Central’s Class AAA Miss Basketball Rhyne Howard get on track. The Lady ’Blazers were able to do that, although Howard still had a solid effort of 12 points, 12 rebounds and five assists.
Hannah Lombard was the leading scorer for the Bears with 13 points. Jamaryn Blair had eight points and Alexis Barnes netted six.
Sydney Pearce had seven points and six rebounds, and she talked about a season that included a sweep of Big 7 Conference, District 1-AAA and Region 1-AAA championships.
“One of our goals in the four years I’ve been here was to beat Morristown West, and we did that at the region,” Pearce said. “We wanted to win a region championship and last year, Oak Ridge upset us in the sub-state. We got past that, and we really wanted to get here and 30 wins. That was incredible. I wish it would have ended differently, but I’m proud of this team.”
WHAT, ME WORRY?
Bradley Central coach Jason Reuter didn’t feel compelled to call an early timeout when Boone made its surge in the third quarter. He felt the fact that only six Boone players logged nine minutes or more would take its toll.
“They gave us a valiant effort early in that third quarter,” Reuter said. “But I was ready for their oil light to come on. I knew they were going to be more tired than we were because of their lack of depth. They played five girls as hard as they could go. When they came to the bench and it was nine after being 14 at halftime, I told the girls they hit us with their best shot.”
It was Boone’s third state tournament appearance, the first since 1998 — when the Lady ’Blazers were in Class AA. The tradition-rich Lady Bears program, which boasts five state championships, was making its 29th state tournament appearance.
It was the deepest run a Boone team ever made in Class AAA, which seniors Pearce and Culbertson said was a reflection on what a close group they were.
“Some of these girls are my best friends,” Pearce said. “The saddest thing is never getting to play with them again, but we will always have the memories and remember how well we did this season.”
Culbertson added: “From basketball, I would consider Sydney and Bayleigh my two closest friends. The 24 hours we were down here, we made a bunch of memories, even at the hotel. We’ve made a lot through the season.”