The Lady Tigers’ winning streak began in November.
After 29 wins, a region title and a No. 1 ranking, it came to an end Tuesday night at home when McEachern defeated Bradwell Institute, 50-25, in the second round of the Class AAAAA girls state basketball tournament.
"We asked so much of them this season and they gave it to us 29 out of 30 times this season. We are disappointed tonight with the loss but really proud of what they accomplished this season," BI coach Faye Baker said.
The biggest concern for Bradwell all year was its lack of height. McEachern, the No. 3 seed from Region 4-AAAAA, came in with a lineup that included two 6-footers.
The Lady Indians opened the game with a 7-0 run. McEachern moved the ball quickly, scoring both inside and from the perimeter. Bradwell finally got on the board midway through the first quarter with a 3-pointer from Mariah Maternik to cut the Lady Indians’ lead to 7-3.
The Lady Indians established an offense, but it was their tough and relentless man-to-man that bothered Bradwell.
McEachern’s defense was tight on the ball, and Bradwell’s offense became stagnant from lack of movement. The Lady Tigers did not get many second opportunities on offense because of McEachern rebounding.
"As a whole, we were just really intimidated by the size of McEachern. We were not mentally ready for a team like that. The offense really never got in sync," Baker said.
The only bright spot for the Lady Tigers in the first half was being able to force turnovers and slow down McEachern with the press.
Trailing, 16-4, in the second quarter, Bradwell scored on back-to-back possessions to trim the lead to 16-9. Bradwell’s Quintunya Chapman intercepted a pass to set up another score from Maternik.
Maternik was able to shed her defender, but as she put the ball up she had Lady Indians defenders hanging off of her. Bradwell cut the lead to 20-11, but that was as close as the Lady Tigers got.
McEachern continued to score at will and took a 26-14 lead into the half.
Maternik opened the third quarter with a shot from the arc to cut the lead to 26-17. Bradwell drew a foul on the next possession but missed its free throws, a common problem Tuesday. The Lady Tigers were a feeble 3 for 19 at the free-throw line.
McEachern dominated the Lady Tigers in the second half, not allowing Bradwell a chance to get back in the game.
Maternik led the Lady Tigers in scoring with 14 points, including four 3-pointers.
"Mariah did everything she could tonight. I think Quintunya did a better job of attacking the basket in the second half," Baker said.
Bradwell finished the season at 29-1 and 16-0 in Region 3-AAAAA.
"One thing I will definitely remember about the season is the record. It is the best record I have had as a coach here, even though we didn’t go as far in the playoffs as we have the past two years. I am still disappointed about the loss tonight and how we played," Baker said.
The Lady Tigers lose the crux of their team with five seniors. Those players provided Bradwell with a strong base of experience in all facets of the game but also senior leadership, Baker said.
"We really had a good group this year. We are really proud of the seniors and the leadership that they displayed this year. We also just want to thank the Bradwell administration, faculty/staff and the community for all of their support this year. We really appreciate it," she said.
Bradwell top scorers: