Bridgeport downs River, 41-32

WOLFHURST – It’s been said time and time again that it doesn’t matter how you win, as long as you win.

That was the case Monday night for the Bridgeport girls’ basketball team inside the John J. Havlicek Gymnasium. The Lady Bulldogs remained perfect in five starts with a lackluster, 41-32, victory over visiting River (4-2) on Frank Baxter Court, but it was not close to what head coach Rob Zitzelsberger would’ve liked.

“Sometimes you play like you practice and I probably had the worst practice ever the other day,” Zitzelsberger admitted. “But we came out and played hard and never gave up.”

With the win, Bridgeport exacted a bit of revenge for last season as the Bulldogs lost but three games, with two of them coming at the hands of the Pilots.

“I’m proud down the stretch that we did what we were supposed to,” Zitzelsberger continued.

Rick Isaly’s River contingent, which was coming off a 50-16 lambasting by a very good Fort Frye team last Thursday, came out and executed its game plan, but just couldn’t catch a break.

“We just couldn’t cash in,” he explained. “Our shots didn’t go.”

Bridgeport led 8-7 after the first quarter and extended that margin to 20-15 at the half as super soph Caitlin Kroll netted 11 of her game-high 15 points.

The third quarter was one that neither team will soon want to watch the film of as a total of eight points were scored in the eight-minute stanza, with the hosts notching six, including the final two by senior Amber Millard with a mere 1.7 second showing for a 26-17 advantage.

Millard then scored the first six points in the final chapter as the hosts would sprint out to a 32-22 bulge. She would finish with eight tallies.

“I’m really happy for her,” Zitzelsberger noted. “I’m proud of the way she stepped up and got some points for us. That’s what we’re going to need from her down the stretch.”

Senior Nicole Smolenak added 10 points to the Bridgeport cause, while Maclaine Murad added seven off the bench.

Haylee Bowers led River with 13 points, three more than Caretti.

“Briana (Massey) did a wonderful job on her,” Zitzelsberger said of the defensive effort on Caretti, who came into the game averaging nearly 22 a night. “That’s what we wanted her to do. Anytime you can hold her (Caretti) to 10 points, you’ve got a chance to beat them.”

Bridgeport held a 32-25 edge off the glass as Kroll snagged eight and Smolenak seven. Kroll also had four assists, three steals and a blocked shot, while Smolenak charted four steals and two assists. Murad also recorded three steals.

Caretti had a game-best nine boards, as well as three assists, two steals and a block. Bowers and Abby Caldwell divided eight rebounds.

River won the JV game.