CLEVELAND, Tenn. -- At some point Thursday, one factor was going to decide the first-round District 5-AAA basketball tournament game at Bradley Central: either the Bears' speed or Soddy-Daisy's size.
Chalk one up for the former.
The Bears had 21 steals and 15 assists on 25 field goals to defeat the Trojans 65-36 at Jim Smiddy Arena. Bradley (20-6) advances to Saturday's semifinal against Ooltewah, which defeated Walker Valley 91-55 in another quarterfinal.
Bryce Copeland hit four 3-pointers and finished with 18 points to lead Bradley, while Hunter Chastain had 14 points and seven rebounds.
Coach Kent Smith wasn't pleased with the Bears' overall defensive performance, but he said it improved in the second half when the Trojans were held to 11 points.
"We quit letting them getting the ball where they wanted," Smith said.
That wasn't the case in the first half. Soddy-Daisy was able to use the size of Zach Brown and James Fowlkes for easy buckets in the paint, and although Bradley built a 10-point second-quarter lead, the Trojans went on a 15-5 run, capped by a five-point play by Dalton Rogers. He hit a 3-pointer, then got two free throws after Bradley's Darien Johnson was called for a foul while trying to box out.
Leading only 29-25 at halftime, Bradley went on a 13-4 run to start the third quarter, led by 11 at the end of the period and never let up.
"We just had to have a sense of urgency," Smith said. "Offensively we started to execute and take the first best shot. We started making plays and our guards were just better, which wasn't the case the last time we played them."
Brown finished with 11 points to pace Soddy-Daisy, with Rogers and Fowlkes adding 10 apiece.
The Bears not only will play Saturday but advanced to the Region 3-AAA tournament, which they've done each of Smith's 15 seasons as Bradley head coach.
"It's time for big-boy basketball," he said. "Ooltewah's going to be motivated, and we're looking forward to it. At least we're in the region. We had to get this one tonight to have a chance."
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