CLEVELAND, Tenn. — A season ago, the Bradley Central girls' basketball team went on a scoring lull against GPS in the Mountain View Inn tournament final at Bradley's Jim Smiddy Arena.
This year, it was the Bruisers' turn.
The host Bearettes led by five at the end of the first quarter but went on a huge run the rest of the way and advanced to the tournament semifinals with a 59-22 victory Friday. They used balanced scoring and a solid debut from junior point guard Whitney Donaldson, who scored 10 points in her first game since transferring from Morristown West.
Rebecca Reuter led Bradley with 11 points and nine rebounds, while fellow post Brooke Copeland had eight points and eight rebounds.
Bradley will face Alcoa, which defeated Brainerd 74-45 in the other semifinal, tonight at 6:15. GPS will take on the Lady Panthers.
The other championship semifinal pits Hamilton Heights against East Hamilton at 4:30. Bearden and Oak Ridge will battle in the other consolation game.
The Bruisers graduated four players from their state-championship team, while Bradley lost six seniors from a Class AAA sectional team. GPS defeated Bradley 64-44 in last season's tournament final.
"Nobody's going to feel sorry for a team that went 33-2 a year ago," Bradley coach Jason Reuter said. "I know they lost a lot, but we did, too.
"The difference is that we had more talent coming back."
His Bearettes led 18-13 at the end of the first quarter. Unfortunately for the Bruisers, they weren't able to force turnovers the rest of the way like they did in the first eight minutes. Bradley's Reuter and Copeland, both north of 6 feet, started to command the boards for putbacks.
When the Bruisers sagged inside, the Bearettes burned them from outside, hitting six 3-pointers -- two each by Donaldson and Kayla Withrow -- during a 35-5 run over an 18-minute span.
GPS's first-quarter output would be its highlight of the game. The Bruisers scored only nine points the rest of the game, including a 1-point third quarter.
Brianna Farris scored 10 points while Akia Harris added six for GPS. Lia Stamey and Reagan Williams were the only other Bruisers to score, with four and two points.
"We lost our focus of playing as five," GPS coach Susan Crownover said. "We had a good game plan of trying to press and we caused a few turnovers, but then we got tired and fell apart.
"Bradley's a very good team. They play aggressive defensively. We just have to learn to trust each other.