BRADFORD – The Bradford varsity girls basketball team was crowned champions of the Bradford Holiday Tournament by defeating Troy Christian in the opening round and a win against Carlisle in the championship game.
Bradford started slowly, trailing Troy Christian Eagles 6-0 early in their first game of the tournament Friday. Down 8-3, Bradford scored five unanswered points to even the score at 8-8 to end the first quarter.
The Lady Railroaders quickly fell behind 10-16 in the second quarter. Six unanswered Bradford points knotted the score at 16-16.
“We told the girls we need to make some adjustments defensively,” Bradford varsity girls basketball coach Patrick McKee said. “To attack more, shot fake, go around them rather than settle for outside shots. We started to do that. We started to get them in a little bit of foul trouble and get to the free throw line.”
The teams closed out the first half with the Eagles leading 19-18 with 11 points coming from Troy Christian’s Amanda Benjamin.
Bradford scored first to start the second half and never let go of the lead. The Railroaders defense did not allow a Troy Christian field goal in the third period. Bradford outscored the Eagles 11-2 allowing just two free throws for a 29-21 lead heading into the final quarter.
“We came out (in the second half), we did the right things,” McKee said. “We shut them down defensively. We started to look to penetrate more. We started to attack more. Got to the free throw line and hit our free throws tonight.”
With Brooke Dunlevy hitting 13-of-16 free throws for Bradford on the night, it was too much for Troy Christian to overcome, falling to the Railroaders 37-27.
“That’s huge (Dunlevy hitting 13-of-16 free throws),” McKee said. “ I’ve been preaching all year that we have to hit our free throws. We finally had a couple girls step up tonight.”
Dunlevy lead Bradford with 19 points followed by eight points from teammate Haley Patty.
The first game of the night saw Carlisle varsity girls basketball team defeat Riverside 45-34, setting the stage for the championship game between tournament host Bradford and the Carlisle Lady Indians.
In the consolation game Troy Christian girls varsity defeated the Riverside Lady Pirates 57-22. Amanda Benjamin paced the Eagles with 14 points with Lydia Demmitt contributing 12.
It did not look good for the host team in the girls varsity championship game as the Lady Railroaders fell behind to an aggressive Carlisle team.
“Carlisle came in tonight and played super hard,” Bradford girls varsity basketball coach Patrick McKee said. “I give credit to those girls. They pushed us to our absolute limit.”
Down 10-1 with 1:13 to play in the first quarter, Brooke Dunlevy hit a trey for Bradford, closing out the first quarter with Carlisle leading 10-4.
“I told the girls we weren’t playing defense the right way. We were playing sluggish. We were standing up. We weren’t sliding our feet,” McKee said. “I told them we had to make an adjustment and that was simply playing defense the correct way and sliding your feet. Boxing out. Little things on defense.”
Haley Patty started the scoring for Bradford in the second quarter, hitting two free throws. Bree Bates followed with a free throw and field goal to bring the Railroaders within one. The Indians followed with a basket for a 12-9 Carlisle lead. A Brook Brower rebound and put-back for two, a steal and lay-up from Dunlevy gave the Railroaders a 13-12 lead at 4:47.
Kelsey Minton hit for two for Carlisle to reclaim an Indians lead.
At the 3:50 mark Michayla Barga hit a trey for Bradford and a two-point Railroader lead.
Outscoring their opponent 18-10 in the second quarter, Bradford took a 22-20 halftime lead.
“Some shots weren’t falling for us at the beginning,” McKee said. “They began to fall for us a little bit. We started to create a little bit more. We started getting some better looks.”
Carlisle scored three unanswered points to start the second half and go up 23-22. At the 4:03 mark, Patty converted a steal into a lay-up for a Railroader 24-23 lead, a lead that Bradford would hold the remainder of the game.
Bradford took a 31-26 lead into the final quarter on a bucket from Patty with 0:09 showing on the clock.
The Lady Railroaders outscored Carlisle 11-8 with a balance scoring attack in the final stanza to claim the championship trophy in the first Bradford holiday varsity girls basketball tournament.
“These girls are working hard for me, every last one of them,” McKee said.
Patty Haley led Bradford in scoring with 12 points followed by Bree Bates with 10,
Brook Dunlevy eight and Michayla Barga six. Carlisle’s Kelsey Minton led all scorers with 21 points.
“Tonight Bradford was a little bit more successful at putting the basketball in the hoop, and they got the win,” Carlisle varsity girls basketball coach Randy Glover said. “Congratulations to them.”
Commenting on the Bradford Holiday Tournament Glover said, “It’s a great opportunity. What I liked about it they included junior varsity teams as well it gave all of our girls an opportunity. They (Bradford) were gracious host. Great facilities to have it. Great tournament. Hopefully they will continue to ask us back as we enjoyed coming up and playing in it.”
Bradford’s JV girls basketball team defeated Riverside in the championship game to give both Lady Railroader basketball teams an undefeated weekend and championship trophies. Bradford’s junior varsity defeated Carlisle Friday to advance to the championship game.