CLEVELAND, Tenn. -- Coaches like to feel as if they have prepared their teams for anything and everything opponents might throw at them. For that reason, Bradley Central girls' basketball coach Jason Reuter will have a reason to be thanking Walker Valley for something his Bearettes might see later.
The Lady Mustangs came out in a slow-down, stalling offense, a far cry from the Bearettes' normal attack that produces a lot of points. Fourth-ranked Bradley finally adjusted, going on a 21-2 run in the first half, and moved onto the District 5-AAA championship game with a 59-31 victory Saturday in Bradley's Jim Smiddy Arena.
The Bearettes (28-1) will face crosstown rival Cleveland, which defeated Rhea County 46-23 in the other semifinal, in Monday's final at 7:30 p.m. Walker Valley and the Lady Golden Eagles will play for third place at 6.
Ooltewah defeated McMinn County 60-54 in the first boys' semifinal. Bradley faced Cleveland in Saturday's late game.
Lady Mustangs coach Jessica Stone installed the time-eating game plan in a 20-minute walkthrough Saturday morning. At halftime, they were down 32-18, but the Bearettes broke the game open in the second half.
"In the first half, I thought we executed things very well," she said. "In the second half the girls started to press. I figured we had nothing to lose, so now we'll get ready for Monday."
Bradley started to pressure the younger guards of Walker Valley, leading to steals and layups. When the Lady Mustangs got the ball downcourt, the Bearettes' post tandem of Brooke Copeland and Rebecca Reuter swatted away attempts.
Caroline Smith paced the Bearettes with 17 points, adding seven assists and five steals. Copeland and Reuter had 11 and 10 points. Jaclyn Griffith led the Lady Mustangs (10-18) with 11 points, and Lyndsey Macon had 10.
"They tried some different things with us, but I think in the long run they might have done us a favor," Coach Reuter said. "We might see that again. I asked the girls, 'What if we're down and a team does that?' As a coach, you want to dot every 'I' and cross every 'T' and do as well as you can to be prepared down the road."