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Mauled by Bearettes
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Megan Patch stays attached to Bradley Central freshman Jamaryn Blair.

The Lady Pioneers weren’t beat coming off the bus, but it wasn’t much long after that Warren County knew its season was over.

Bradley Central showed why it is a contender for the state championship in the opening round of the regionals, downing Warren County 87-22 to move to 29-0 this season.

“Bradley Central has a well-rounded team. I completely understand why they are undefeated,” said coach Shea Panter.
Rhyne Howard lived up to the billing as one of the nation’s top players, scoring 32 points before sitting out the majority of the second half. Jamaryn Blair added 18 points off the bench, including hitting buzzer beaters in the first and second quarters to give her team huge momentum boosts.

Warren County (12-20) was led by Tyra Wright’s nine points and Grace Rains’ four-point performance.

Bradley Central began the game on an 8-0 run before Emily Mikkola rifled a pass past three Bearettes to Rains for a layup. It did little to slow down the Bearettes though, who scored on nine of their first 10 possessions to build a double-digit advantage.

right tried to keep Warren County relatively close. The junior did her damage right around the rim, getting deep post positions for a pair of layups before sweeping across the lane for a lefty hook shot that banked in.

Blair was able to push the lead to 23-10 in the waning seconds of the first quarter when she pick-pocketed a Lady Pioneer and drove for a layup to end the period.
After that, Howard took over.

The Kentucky signee started the second quarter with a 3-pointer, then followed with a steal and a layup. After feeding Blair for a 3-pointer, Howard stuck back a miss to put the Bearettes up 33-10 and force Panter into a timeout.

Howard would help fuel a 28-3 advantage in the second quarter with 11 points, three steals, three rebounds and three assists – the last going to Blair when she sank a corner 3 at the buzzer to give the Bearettes a 50-13 halftime lead.

Even in a season where the Lady Pioneers have faced a number of talented opponents, including reigning State AA Ms. Basketball Akira Levy, Howard may have been the best Panter has seen.

“She is definitely one of the best players in the state,” said Panter. “She’s even better to me because she makes the other players around her better.”

Action wasn’t as furious after halftime, with the Bearettes nursing a big lead and Warren County continuing to struggle offensively. The Lady Pioneers mustered only nine points after the break, getting short jumpers from Mikkola, Wright and Rhealee Johnson and a 3-pointer from Bri Young.

Despite being quickly ushered out of the region tournament by the state’s No. 2 ranked team, Panter believes the experience will pay dividends down the line.

“I think the girls were proud they made it to the region since last year we fell short. We knew it would be a tough battle,” said Panter. “I’m proud they maintained a great work ethic this year. They are a great group of girls with outstanding character.

“They excel in the classroom as well as on the court. They make me proud to be their coach.”

Callie Cathcart, who wasn’t able to suit up in the region, was the team’s lone senior. The Lady Pioneers should bring back 10 varsity players for next year.