BRADLEY CENTRAL 63, CLEVELAND 55
Bradley Central 14 19 14 16 -- 63
Cleveland 16 13 15 11 -- 55
Bradley Central (63) -- Bryce Copeland 22, Whitmire 8, Terrell, Logan Cox 11, Crisp 2, Daniel Clark 13, Bentley 5.
Cleveland (55) -- C.J. Bryant 13, Ware, Kendrick Thompson 17, Scott 2, , Brown, Jahmal Johnson 14, Little 6, Bunion, Jones 3.
3-point goals: Bradley 12 (Copeland 4, Clark 4, Cox 3, Bentley); Cleveland 6 (Thompson 4, Bryant, Jones). Records: Bradley Central 18-12; Cleveland 19-12.
CLEVELAND, Tenn. — Forget one if by land, two if by sea. Bradley Central shot down its crosstown rival by using the 3.
An always intense rivalry, regardless of sport, was made moreso Tuesday night considering the Region 3-AAA semifinal was an elimination round and the Bears made 12 3-pointers to knock off tournament host Cleveland 63-55.
"We've been feast or famine all year with the 3s," Bradley coach Kent Smith said. "Tonight we had several guys step up and make some big-time shots when we really needed them. Every time Cleveland would make a run at us, somebody different was hitting a 3-pointer to get us going again.
"We lost a lot of close game early, just because this team hadn't played together much coming into the season. But from those early games, this team learned how to play in this type game and how to win."
This was the first time since 2003 the Bears claimed three road wins at Cleveland in the same season, with the previous two each coming by 15 points, including last week's district tournament semifinal. Bradley, which was three games under .500 at the Christmas break, has won 13 of its last 16 games and will play for the region title for the eighth time in Smith's 17-year tenure.
The Bears (18-12) will play Ooltewah (20-9) in Thursday's title game at Cleveland.
The Bears' first three field goals of the game were 3-pointers and they trailed only twice, both times late in the first quarter. Actually, Bradley's first field goal in all four quarters was a 3-pointer and Bryce Copeland (four), Daniel Clark (four) and Logan Cox (three) all had multiple treys.
Cleveland used a 9-2 run midway through the third quarter to pull even at 42, tying the game on Jahmal Johnson's dunk. But Bradley countered with a 3 by Copeland, then began the fourth with consecutive treys by Clark and Copeland to push its lead back to nine. After the Blue Raiders had fought back to within three on Johnson's layup with 2:36 remaining, Cox answered with a 3-pointer and the lead never dipped below four the rest of the way.
"There was a lot of pride on the line tonight for both teams," said Copeland, who led all scorers with 22 points. "I knew this could be the last game of my high school career and I didn't want it to end against them here.
"It's weird. Last week when we played them here we couldn't seem to hit a shot. We struggled for everything. But tonight, we had several guys who were hot and it paid off for us."
Stephen has covered local sports in the tri-state area for more than 20 years, starting at the News-Free Press as a 19-year-old reporter. He has been with the Times Free Press since its inception and has been an assistant sports editor since 2005. Stephen is among the most decorated writers in the TFP’s newsroom, winning numerous state, regional and national writing awards. He was named one of the top 10 sports writers in the nation ...