Boys basketball: Jack Ryan sparks Red Devils

Stratford High’s boys basketball team fended off a resilient Bunnell High lineup to earn an 82-66 win at a packed Needham Memorial Gymnasium on Saturday night.

Jack Ryan led the way for coach Tim Swaller’s Red Devils with 28 points, including a sparkling 12-of-13 from the foul line highlighted by a clutch 7-for-8 effort in the final quarter.

“Jack’s been solid for us all year long,” Swaller said. “When he’s got the ball in his hands he makes things happen. He made big free throws down the stretch and played a big part in the win.”

Mike August scored 16, Sean Carroll had 12 and Joe August added 10 for the Red Devils.

Max Edwards poured in 25 to lead Bunnell. Elijah Alexandre scored 14. Josh Giannoni and Khalid Moreland both added 10.

Mike August and Joe August combined for five 3-pointers.

Ryan had 15 rebounds and six assists. Carroll and Joe August had eight and seven rebounds, respectively.

The Red Devils built on a 36-27 halftime lead and, fueled by a 10-2 run to end the third quarter, carried a 54-41 advantage into the fourth.

After falling behind by as many as 14, coach Pat Yerina’s Bulldogs chipped away and got the deficit down to four at 65-61 on a pair Edwards’ free throws with 2:46 to play.

Bunnell got no closer despite scoring 25 in the final period.

“We gave up eighty points. You can’t win giving up eighty,” Yerina said. “We tried to battle back. We have a lot of work to do. “We need to step up at different times in a game. We’re not playing a full thirty-two minutes and there’s some work we’ve got to do.”

Edwards had 15 rebounds and Giannoni pulled down 12 rebounds.

Moreland had three assists. Alexandre came away with four steals.

“I think we shot well. I think collectively, as a group, we played with energy,” Swaller said.

After the Bulldogs got to within five at 44-39, the Red Devils scored seven straight points to stretch the lead to a dozen on that late third-quarter. That 10-2 run unfolded in the final 2:12 of the stanza.

Ryan’s runner, a 3-point play in transition by Joe August, and a Mike August hoop stretched the lead to 12. After the Bulldogs ended the 7-0 run they had a chance for more but missed a layup.

Ryan converted a 3-point play as the lead ballooned to a baker’s dozen by the end of the third.

Trailing 57-43 in the fourth, the Bulldogs got to within eight behind the efforts of Alexandre and Edwards.

Mike August hit a 3-pointer for a 60-49 advantage with 5:35 to play.

Ryan made three of four free throws to turn a lead that had been snipped to six back to nine with 3:39 remaining.

The Bulldogs had one more run in them, five points from Edwards, making it 65-61 with 2:46 left.

A Mike August 3-pointer, making it 68-61, and more Ryan free throws helped put the game out of reach.

Swaller was pleased his team jumped out to an early lead and withstood Bunnell’s runs.

“I thought we got off to a good start. We knew at some point they were going to respond. I thought, down the stretch they got to the basket a little too easily,” Swaller said. “At times we slowed them a little bit. For the most part we were able to withstand those runs and bounce back from them.”

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