Bulldogs boast experience

After his players were sent to the proverbial showers earlier than they wanted to be in last year’s Class L boys basketball state tournament, veteran Bunnell High coach Pat Yerina sent them to the weight room.
Yerina is hoping that a summer of solid conditioning will lead to a little more bulk and bite from the Bulldogs, as they approach the season opener tonight against Newtown High in the South-West Conference Tip-Off Tournament at Notre Dame of Fairfield.
Bunnell, which won the SWC Colonial Division title last year, reached the semifinal round of the SWC playoffs before losing to champion Immaculate of Danbury.
After posting a 13-9 record, the Bulldogs were the 15th seed in the state tournament and got a home game against Wilbur Cross of New Haven.
The Bulldogs eventually lost by six points (83-76) and had to face an early exit. The Governors came in as the No. 18 seed.
So the team went to work this summer, and Yerina is hoping for big things this year as he has a strong nucleus returning, led by All-SWC guard Matt Nolting.
Nolting, a 5-10 senior and a team captain with Tim White, averaged 19 points per game as a junior and has been a four-year player.
He’ll be teamed in the backcourt with White, a 5-8 senior who averaged nine points and three steals per game a year ago.
The Bulldogs also have a young, promising guard prospect in sophomore Ryan Pittman, who averaged six points and four assists in limited playing time as a sophomore.
Up front, the Bulldogs return 6-3 junior Isaac Vann (11.4 points and eight rebounds) and senior Adam Samuel (seven points and seven rebounds).
“Pittman is one of those hard-working kids who is exciting to watch,” Yerina said. “He’s going to get lots of minutes this year.”
Bunnell boasts depth with no fewer than four players able to come off the bench and lend support.
That group includes seniors Claude Joseph (a 6-1 forward) and Devon Thompson (a 5-9 guard) and 5-9 junior guards Kendall Streeter and Justin Townsend.
Bunnell had scrimmages against Bassick of Bridgeport, Staples of Westport and Fairfield Ludlowe of the FCIAC and Foran of Milford of the SCC.
“We went up against a mixture of teams, some who played an up-tempo game and others who slowed it down a bit,” Yerina said. “I liked the way we played defense so far and how well we passed the ball.
“We still need to be a little cleaner in our rebounding. We need to box out better.”
After the Tip-Off Tourney final on Saturday night in Fairfield, Bunnell hosts rival Stratford Tuesday at 7.

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