The big man had a big game as Bartow beat Lake Wales 83-77 Friday night in Bartow in boys basketball.
Tony Bradley, a 6-foot-9 sophomore, scored 26 points and had 16 rebounds as the Yellow Jackets split with the Highlanders in a game that always matters to the two teams.
Lake Wales won the first nondistrict meeting 89-75 on Dec. 16.
Bradley broke open a close game by scoring 14 points in the third quarter as Bartow grabbed a lead that grew to 15 points early in the fourth quarter before the Highlanders hit some threes in the closing minutes to make the outcome close.
“Usually, if I make my first basket, I know I’m going to have a good game,” said Bradley. “This is a learning process for me. I know I need to improve and as a team we need to get better.”
Bartow coach Terrence McGriff was a happy man after the game.
“This is the best rivalry in Polk County. I don’t think our kids understood that the first time we played. When you get slapped in the face, that wakes you up,” he said. “This time, we were ready to play.”
According to Lake Wales coach Randy Lee, “We missed 19 free throws. You’ve got to make your free throws.” The Highlanders were 23 for 42 at the foul line.
Lee also gave Bradley credit.
“Bradley is tough. He’s a big body and he has good hands. He makes the guys around him better. You can either concentrate on him or guard their shooters. You have to pick your poison.”
A big difference between the two games was Bartow’s ability to handle the ball.
“The first time, we had 22 turnovers. We had 15 tonight,” McGriff noted.
Bartow is Class 7A, District 6 while Lake Wales is in Class 6A, District 8.
The Yellow Jackets took a lead to start the game but couldn’t put the Highlanders away through the first half. Bartow led by nine in the first quarter and was ahead by eight in the second quarter, but Lake Wales trailed only 35-31 at halftime.
Bartow had a 56-50 lead with a minute left in the third quarter but scored six quick points and had a 62-50 lead going into the final period.
Trailing 74-61 with just 2:22 on the clock, the Highlanders rallied with Savonte Frazier scoring 10 points in the last two minutes. But it was too little and too late.
Frazier finished with a game-high 32 points and hit 13 of 20 foul shots. Railon Garrett scored 17 as the only other Highlander in double figures. Shaka McGriff, who had 27 points and hit seven trifectas in the first meeting, finished with six points and didn’t hit a three this time.
David Campbell had 19 points and Derrick Brooks was 11-for-14 at the foul line and scored 13 for the Yellow Jackets.