BRIDGEPORT — The Bridgeport girls and boys basketball teams both marched into the semifinals of the Western Trails Conference Tournament by posting comfortable wins in first-round action on Thursday night in Bridgeport.
After falling to Bayard by one last Friday, the Bridgeport girls gained revenge with a dominating 38-16 victory. The 16 points scored by the Tigers were a season-low total allowed by the Bulldogs defensively.
“I thought we did some real good things with our pressure,” Bridgeport coach Bryan Schluterbusch said. “We full-court pressed them for most of the game, and they struggled handling the ball. When you can hold any team to 16 points, that’s pretty good.”
The win advances third seeded Bridgeport into a semifinal date with second seeded Mitchell today at 3:45 p.m. at Western Nebraska Community College in Scottsbluff. Mitchell is 2-0 against Bridgeport this season. The Tigers won the teams’ most recent meeting by six back on Jan. 12.
“We’ve had some good games with Mitchell,” Schluterbusch said. “They’ve come out on top both times, but I felt the last time we played them we really played a good second half. If we can just feed off of that and play that way the whole game, I think we’ll be right in a position to win it.”
In its opening-round win over Bayard, Bridgeport moved out to an 18-7 lead at halftime after limiting the Tigers to just one point in the second quarter. The Bulldogs were never threatened from there as they pulled away for the 22-point victory.
“It’s good to get back on the winning side of things,” Schluterbusch said. “The girls feel better about themselves, and I see a little more confidence coming back.”
Tara Harding led the Bulldogs in scoring with nine points. Sydney Faessler added eight and Dina Cantu finished with seven.
Jada Huck pulled down a team-high eight rebounds for Bridgeport. Faessler dished out three assists, while Cantu and Megan Dudden both recorded three steals each.
The Bridgeport boys overcame a slow start to pull away for a 56-25 victory over Morrill on Thursday.
Bridgeport, who is seeded third, trailed 9-4 after the first quarter before outscoring the Lions 46-12 over the course of the next 16 minutes to take charge.
“We got off to a slow start with a lot of turnovers early,” Bridgeport coach Nick Broz said. “I think the deciding factor in the game was our ability to get around the rim and get some easier shots. We really rebounded well, and found a way to give ourselves second chances to make some easier hoops that way.”
Bridgeport out-rebounded Morrill 41-13 in the contest. The Bulldogs totaled 15 offensive rebounds.
Freshman Wyatt Pankowski led Bridgeport in scoring with 17 points. Jaime Gonzalez joined Pankowski in double figures with 16 points.
Freshman Quentin Baxter led the Bulldogs on the glass with a career-high 13 rebounds. Baxter and John Pappas both added eight points each.
Jorge Lara led Morrill in scoring with eight points. Sheldon Le added seven, while Jacob Ramirez knocked down a pair of 3-pointers to finish with six.
Bridgeport will take on second seeded Hemingford in today’s semifinal round at 7:15 p.m. at WNCC’s Cougar Palace. It will mark the second meeting of the season between the Bulldogs and Bobcats. Bridgeport edged Hemingford 47-45 back on Dec. 14.
Broz said the Bulldogs are happy to be moving on.
“We’re excited. In a tournament like this you just stress winning and advancing. However you can get the job done, you just hope to be playing the next day,” he said. “We’re going to have to be ready to play a really good Hemingford team. We’ll have to execute and perform a lot better.”
Bayard (6-11)................................6 1 4 5 — 16
Bridgeport (7-10)........................7 11 11 9— 38
Tara Harding 9, Sydney Faessler 8, Dina Cantu 7, Cassidy Mitchell 4, Jada Huck 3, Jessica Kildow 2, Megan Dudden 2, Kassidy Kildow 2, Brooke Harding 1.
Morrill (5-10)..............................9 4 8 4 — 25
Bridgeport (11-6).........................4 20 26 19 — 56
Taylor Lackey 2, Sheldon Le 7, Jordan Rohde 1, Jake Hoffman 1, Jorge Lara 8, Jacob Ramirez 6.
Wyatt Pankowski 17, Jaime Gonzalez 16, Quentin Baxter 8, John Pappas 8, Jason Amateis 3, Leighton Freeze 2, Taylor Janicek 2.