Bulldogs get payback with win over ND

Bunnell High’s Justin Townsend is one of Bulldog coach Pat Yerina’s high-flying cagers. The Bulldogs knocked off Masuk and Notre Dame-Fairfield last week.
(Photo by Kyra Palange)

The Bunnell High boys basketball team showed it had fully recovered from the recent heartbreaking one-point loss to Notre Dame High with a resounding 97-54 win over host Masuk High Friday night.
The win comes on the heels of a 98-point effort from the Bulldogs in a lopsided win over previously unbeaten Bethel High, as the locals’ fast-paced play appears to be hitting stride.
Ryan Pittman scored with seconds ticking down to lead Bunnell to a 67-65 victory over Notre Dame-Fairfield in Stratford on Tuesday night.
Bunnell is 12-2 and Notre Dame is 9-5. The Lancers edged the Bulldogs, 73-72, on Jan. 19.
Issac Vann scored 19 points, Matt Nolting 18 and Pittman 15 for Bunnell, which overcame an 11-for-21 performance from the foul line.
Notre Dame took an 18-16 lead after one period, before Bunnell went into the half with a 34-32 lead. It was 49-42 ND after three quarters.
C.J. Davidson scored 17 points and Dan Upchurch 16 for the Lancers.
In the win over Masuk Vann (16 rebounds) towered over the Panthers (4-8) on his way to a game-high 26 points, including a handful of electrifying dunks.
While Vann controlled the inside, Nolting sparkled in the backcourt with 23 points, including four 3-pointers.
Before tipoff, Bunnell coach Pat Yerina extolled his players to come out aggressively fast against its SWC foe and the team responded by sprinting out to a 20-1 lead in the first five minutes.
Vann started the rout with a put-back hoop and a breakout jam off an assist from Pittman.
Vann worked two of his seven assists to Pittman and Adam Samuel, while a fierce full-court press led by senior guard Tim White netted Pittman (eight points) a steal and full-court layup to give Bunnell a 12-0 lead.
Vann then set up Nolting for two baskets to get Bunnell to 20 points.
Masuk battled back with three baskets in the final two minutes, but a Nolting 3-pointer off a Claude Joseph feed made sure Bunnell kept a commanding 23-7 lead at the end of the quarter.
“We try to get out fast and not give a team too much confidence,” Yerina said. “That’s a big factor in all sports and we’ve been doing a good job getting a good lead. I think now we have to learn how to play when we have a 15-20 point lead.
“Sometimes you get a little lazy. You start releasing the ball a little early and don’t go after the rebound like it’s a one-point game because that carries over.”
The Bulldogs and Vann showed little let up in the second quarter.
Vann netted 14 points in the stanza, mostly on offensive rebounds.
Joseph (11 points, five rebounds) was also impressive in setting the stage for the quarter with four points, a defensive rebound and a slick assist to White for a deep jump shot in the first few minutes.
The solid offensive performance helped the Bulldogs overcome a 9-0 Masuk run in the middle of the quarter to give Bunnell a 47-27 lead at half.
The Panthers looked to chip away at the Bulldogs’ lead early in the third as Dominic Migliaro hit two 3-pointers, but Nolting quickly deflated the comeback with three baskets from beyond the arc in the first three minutes thanks to assists from Vann and White.
Vann added three foul shots and Nolting tipped a rebound back in the hoop to give Bunnell a 67-36 lead with three minutes left in the quarter.
The Bulldogs kept the pedal to the metal down the stretch to firmly put the game away as Nolting, Joseph and Vann hit fast-break baskets to increase the visitor’s advantage to 79-40 at the end of the third.
Vann started the fourth quarter with a sparkling reverse jam and Joseph scored three points to put Bunnell up 85-42 three minutes into the final quarter.
This ushered in reserve players for both teams. Kendall Streeter and Eric Jeffreys each nailed 3-pointers in the final minutes.
“The defense was a little better in the second half,” Yerina said. “It’s tough because when you have a lead you have to realize that you still have to jump to the ball and do all the little things because it might carry over when it is a one-point game.”

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