The Lady Trailblazers dodged that bullet, but couldn’t escape the second-most-difficult pairing.
Boone (30-4) will take on undefeated Bradley Central (32-0) in the Class AAA girls state basketball tournament on Wednesday at 2:15 p.m. (EST) at Murphy Center in Murfreesboro.
Lady Trailblazers’ head coach Travis Mains didn’t complain about the draw.
“We are opposite Riverdale,” said Mains, whose team lost 74-37 to the third-ranked team in the nation in December. “We can compete with Bradley.”
In the Class A event, Unaka may have gotten a best-case-scenario draw. The Lady Rangers (27-9) will meet Wartburg Central (23-7) in the quarterfinals Thursday at 11 a.m. Wartburg struggled at home to beat Cloudland in Saturday’s sectional round.
THE PREVIOUS MEETING
Boone lost to Bradley Central 56-43 on Nov. 25.
“We were down five at their place at Thanksgiving,” said Mains. “Our kids have confidence to play them. (Bradley) pulled away late in the fourth quarter with free throws and a couple of turnovers.”
Mains said he knows it’s a big challenge.
“They’ve got good size and the best player in the state,” said Mains. “We got in early foul trouble against them.”
Central’s top player is Rhyne Howard. She became the tradition-rich school’s No. 3 all-time scorer with a 27-point effort in a 63-34 sectional win over Murfreesboro Blackman — which actually lost by a smaller margin to Riverdale (70-47) in the Region 4-AAA finals.
Howard has scored 2,474 points, and is the school’s all-time scoring leader in the five-on-five era. She has led Bradley to a record of 135-11 during her four years.
Also on Boone’s side of the bracket are Mt. Juliet and Germantown Houston, who play at 3:45 p.m.
On the other side of the bracket, Riverdale was paired with Brentwood Ravenwood on Wednesday at 11 a.m. The Lady Warriors are with Arlington and Knox Bearden, who play at 12:30 p.m.
The Lady Rangers could find a tough road if they get past Wartburg. Top-ranked Summertown meets Dresden at 12:30 p.m. Thursday on the same side of the bracket.
Opposite Unaka are Pickett County and Greenfield (5:30 p.m., Wednesday) and Huntingdon versus Moore County (7 p.m., Wednesday).