Bridgeport rolls past host Bellaire

Head coach Rob Zitzelsberger’s Lady Bulldogs will be an exciting team to watch this season as the athletic squad plays an up-tempo style of basketball as they cruised to a 72-35 victory over host Bellaire Thursday night.

Bridgeport’s aggressive style of play dropped host Bellaire into a 15-6 hole at the 3:16 mark of the first period.

The Lady Big Reds rallied back to close the gap to a single possession but Bridgeport’s Maclaine Murad began draining three-point shots and the hosts trailed 19-10 after one period. To make matters worse the Big Reds found themselves in early foul trouble.

“It is frustrating because we worked all summer on keeping opponents in front of us and not reaching,” said Bellaire head coach Marci Bonar. “We don’t do it in practice and then we do it in a game. We reached all first quarter.”

“Our press hurt them,” countered Zitzelsberger. “We are going to play hard and I thought we played very well as a team tonight.”

“Give them credit, we left them open and they took advantage and hit their shots,” said Bonar. “We made them look like all stars.”

Caitlyn Kroll led the way for the Bulldogs with 26 points. Murad used four first-half treys to boost her game total to 22. Brittany Higgenbotham and Briana Massey chipped in with nine points each, while Nicole Smolenak added eight markers.

“Caityln was a leader on the floor and Maclaine played a great game for us tonight as well,” added Bridgeport’s coach. “Smolenak is our engine on offense, she controls the tempo.”

Bridgeport tallied 33 rebounds as Higgenbotham led with 10 caroms. Smolenak charted six of the team’s 16 steals.

The Bulldogs turned the ball over 24 times and shot 6 of 18 three-point shots and 25 of 44 from the floor.

Cari Crozier paced the Big Reds with 15 points and seven rebounds.

“I have to say that Cari was a leader for us tonight,” said Bonar of her junior point guard. “She kept the rest of the team going and brought us back into the game in the fourth quarter.”

Bellaire turned the ball over 45 times, totaled 26 rebounds and 14 steals while shooting 8 of 35 from 2-point and 2 of 6 from outside of the arc.

Bellaire drops to 1-1 and will host St. John Central Saturday at 6 p.m. Bridgeport improves to 2-0 and hosts their home opener against Toronto on Monday.

The Big Reds prevailed in the JV contest.

BRIDGEPORT (72) – Smolenak 3, 1-5 8; Murad 7, 4-8 22; Kroll 10, 4-7 26; Benda 0, 1-2 1; Higgenbotham 3, 3-4 9; Massey 3, 3-4 9; Renzler 0, 0-0 0; Millard 0, 0-0 0. Totals: 26, 13-27. BELLAIRE (35) Kidder 2, 1-5 6; Smith 0, 0-0 0; Messenger 1, 0-0 2; Crozier 5, 5-8 15; Ryan 1, 3-6 5;Crook 0, 0-2, 0; Green 1, 0-0 3; Gillespie 1, 2-4 4. Totals: 11, 11-25.

Three-Point Goals: Bridgeport 7 (Murad 4, Kroll 2, Smolenak); Bellaire 2 (Kidder, Green).