Bridgeport cruises by Beallsville

MORRISTOWN – No. 2-seeded Bridgeport missed its first 10 shots from the floor Monday night and a pair of free throws, but only found itself trailing Beallsville 4-0.

Rob Zitzelsberger called a 30-second timeout to settle his No. 2-seeded Bulldogs down.

It worked as state-ranked Bridgeport (21-2) roared past the Blue Devils (6-17) by a 68-38 count in Division IV sectional tournament action inside ‘The Hangar’ at Union Local High School.

“I told them we couldn’t score 100 points in a minute,” he said. “Take your time, get some good shots, and don’t throw (the ball) at the basket … shoot it.”

The talk spurred his No. 9-ranked Bulldogs to a 12-4 spurt to end the first quarter, as Nicole Smolenak’s two baskets in the final 1:14 made it 12-8.

Bridgeport then went on an 11-3 run to start the second quarter, sparked by Caitlyn Kroll. The freshman dandy tallied seven of her game-high 27 counters in the stretch. Smolenak added the other four. Keri Renzler came off the bench to knock down a pair of buckets late in the half to make it a 32-20 count at the break.

Kroll continued to shine in her first post-season game as she lit it up for 10 third-quarter markers as Bridgeport extended its margin to 50-28 after three periods. She tickled the twine on back-to-back bonus bombs midway through the panel.

“We got a really good game from Caitlyn,” Zitzelsberger noted. “She played well tonight.”

The fourth quarter turned into a free throw shooting contest as a total of 27 charity tosses were attempted.

In addition to Kroll’s 27 markers, junior Maclaine Murad had a baker’s dozen, while Smolenak chipped in 11. Smolenak, although not shooting well from the floor, stuffed the stat sheet with 11 rebounds, eight assists and four steals. Kroll had eight boards, four assists and a like number of steals. Murad chipped in six rebounds.

Bridgeport led 52-27 off the glass as senior Brittany Higgenbotham grabbed a game-best 14. The Bridgeport bench contributed 13 points, with Renzler having seven and Brianna Massey finishing with five and five rebounds.

“Brittany dominated on the boards,” Zitzelsberger noted.

Katey Kinney had a double-double for Beallsville with 12 points and 13 rebounds. Maddie Stephen had nine points.

The Blue Devils were guilty of 21 turnovers, seven more than the Bulldogs.

“They’ve just got too many shooters,” Beallsville head coach Rick Jarrett said of Bridgeport. “They outhustled us. We’re kind of limited in what we can do with our personnel and stuff, but the girls played hard and I’m proud of them.

“The scoreboard doesn’t indicate how hard we played and what we can do,” he added. “Putting the ball in the basket is the name of the game, and we couldn’t do that as much as they did.”

With the win, Bridgeport moves to within one game of the district tournament. The Bulldogs travel back to Morristown Thursday to meet River, which defeated Frontier, 39-30, in last night’s second contest.


BEALLSVILLE (38) – Bedford 1 3-4 5; Headley 2 1-10 6; Stephen 2-9 5-5 9; Palmer 1 0-0 2; Kinney 4 4-6 12; Stewart 1 0-0 2; Ring 1 0-1 2; Vannest 0 0-0 0; Myers 0 0-0 0; Totals: 12-49 13-26. BRIDGEPORT (68) – Smolenak 3 5-8 11; Murad 5 3-4 13; Kroll 8 8-9 27; Benda 0 0-0 0; Higgenbotham 1 2-4 4; Renzler 3 1-2 7; Massey 2 0-0 5; Millard 0 0-0 0; Oszust 0 1-2 1; Totals: 22-65 20-29.

Three-Point Goals: Beallsville 1 (Headley); Bridgeport 4 (Kroll 3, Massey)