MURFREESBORO — Bradley Central pleaded no contest.
Except for one brief moment in the second quarter, Science Hill was in complete control and earned a 64-38 victory in the quarterfinals of the Class AAA girls state basketball tournament Wednesday afternoon at Murphy Center.
Shy Copney and Enjelica Reid each had a double-double for the Lady Hilltoppers, who improved to 34-3 and advanced to Friday’s semifinals against Memphis Overton, a 51-45 winner over Antioch. Game time is set for 12:30 p.m. (EST).
In the other bracket, the new No. 1 team in the nation, Murfreesboro Riverdale, rolled to an 83-37 win over Brentwood. Riverdale will now be shooting not just for a state title, but at least two national titles as the Lady Warriors (33-0) recently moved into the No. 1 spot in both the ESPN and MaxPreps polls. Riverdale takes on Memphis Central on Friday at 11 a.m.
Science Hill, which remained at No. 11 nationally, may be keeping an eye on Riverdale, but the Lady Hilltoppers didn’t blink against Bradley Central. Copney finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds while Reid had 11 points and 11 rebounds, including seven offensive boards.
“It was a good game, but I don’t think we played our best game,” said Copney.
Science Hill head coach Darrell Barnwell said it doesn’t matter how well his team plays at this point in the season.
“We won and moved on, and that’s what it comes down to,” said Barnwell. “There aren’t any style points anymore. We just wanted to make sure the kids did what they needed to do to pull out a win.”
Defense was the name of the game for the Lady Hilltoppers. They harassed post Brooke Copeland into 6-of-21 shooting, taking advantage of her missing post mate, Rebecca Reuter, who was suspended for the game because of getting two technicals in the sectional.
“Obviously losing (Reuter) affected the game some,” said Barnwell, whose team is 4-2 in Murfreesboro over the last three years. “Our kids did a great job defensively of taking them out of anything they wanted to do.
“We knew they would try to go to Copeland a lot with Reuter out of there. Our kids played tremendous defense.”
Science Hill backed off of Bradley’s Baylee Carroll, who replaced Reuter in the lineup.
“We talked about personnel and how we wanted to play each kid they had,” said Barnwell. “We just wanted to make her be a player.”
After a 6-4 start, Science Hill went on an 8-0 run that was capped by Keisha Gregory’s 3-pointer.
Bradley got close on Kayla Withrow’s trey ball with 4:30 left in the second quarter, cutting Science Hill’s lead to 18-15. However, the Lady Hilltoppers closed the half with an 11-2 run to take a 12-point lead into the locker room.
If there was any doubt remaining, Science Hill brushed it aside by starting the third quarter with a 16-5 spurt. It was 45-22 and the game was basically over.
The Lady Hilltoppers looked smooth and relaxed as they returned to the court where they lost in last year’s championship game to end a previously unbeaten season.
“Coach Barnwell definitely prepared us well,” said Reid. “He did a good job of getting us matched up.”
Gregory and Tianna Tarter also played important roles. Gregory hit 5 of 8 shots from the field and finished with 12 points.
“I just look up to everybody on the team,” said Gregory. “I’m the youngest one, and I just try to stick with them.”
Tarter totaled just seven points, but added seven rebounds, six assists, two blocks and two steals. Gabby Lyon worked inside for five points, seven rebounds, and four steals.
Copeland finished with 17 points and 16 rebounds to lead the Bearettes.
Reid said the Lady Hilltoppers won’t take any chances on overlooking Overton.
“A lot of teams would love to be in our position,” said Reid. “We’re not taking any team for granted. We would like to get in the championship round, and if it happens to be Riverdale we know we would have to play well.”
Bradley coach Jason Reuter said his team suffered from fatigue because of one less player in the rotation.
“If you have ever played at a high level, you understand fatigue,” said Reuter. “With a lack of depth, we didn’t shoot it well. Also, Science Hill is a very good man-to-man defense team.”
Notes: If Science Hill and Riverdale reach the title game, there would be a stunning 10 1,000-point scorers on the floor. Each of the teams’ five starters have scored 1,000 points in their careers.
Once difference: All of Science Hill’s are one-school 1,000-point scorers. Riverdale has one transfer who reached the mark at East Hamilton, and another who scored some of her points at Murfreesboro Siegel. …
Riverdale has won 56 consecutive games.