Bridgeport eliminated by Hiland in Division IV

NEW PHILADELPHIA – Depth and experience can carry a basketball team a long way.

Hiland’s bench outscored Bridgeport 32-0 Thursday night as the Hawks (22-3) ended the Bulldogs (23-2) fine season with a 55-44 decision in a Division IV girls’ district semifinal contest inside New Philadelphia High School.

“That’s a good team,” Bridgeport head coach Rob Zitzelsberger said of the Hawks. “They played about 14 or 15 girls and we played six or seven. They hit some threes and we missed some easy shots.”

Bridgeport, which was sixth in the final Associated Press poll, led 28-27 at the half thanks to some deadly outside shooting by Maclaine Murad. The senior drilled four 3-point shots in the second quarter alone and had all but 10 of the Bulldogs’ first-half points.

“Maclaine really held us in there in the first half,” Zitzelsberger noted. “She played marvelous. They shut her down in the second half.”

The Bulldogs’ starters held a 44-23 scoring advantage, but Megan Beachy and Brittany Miller came off the Hawks’ pine to score 13 points each, tying Eastern District Player of the Year Regina Hochstetter for team honors.

Miller scored eight of her points in the decisive third quarter when Hiland, which finished the regular season fourth in the final Associated Press poll, took control by virtue of a 20-8 reading to lead 47-36 with eight minutes remaining.

“My girls have nothing to be ashamed of,” Zitzelsberger added. “I’m proud of them. We were 21-3 last year and 23-2 this year. We tied the school record for wins in a single season.

“We came up empty-handed tonight, but I’m still proud of them,” he stressed.

Murad finished with a game-high 20 points, while sophomore Caitlyn Kroll and senior Nicole Smolenak, both of whom were saddled with early foul troubles, evenly divided 20.

“Foul trouble definitely hurt us in the second half,” Zitzelsberger added. “They (Hiland) had no answer for Nicole’s ballhandling, but when she went out, we didn’t have that person to handle the ball against their press.”

Kroll also pulled down 11 of Bridgeport’s 27 rebounds. The Bulldogs also recorded 14 turnovers.

Hiland had 31 rebounds and only five turnovers.

“This game wasn’t lost tonight,” Zitzelsberger said. “It was lost in April, May, June and July. You have to do the little things over the summer like work on your ballhandling and shooting.”

The Hawks return to New Philly Saturday to meet Zanesville Bishop Rosecrans, which routed Conotton Valley, 67-29, in last night’s opener.

BRIDGEPORT (44) – Kroll 2-3 6-7 10; Murad 6-12 3-6 20; Smolenak 2-5 6-8 10; B. Massey 1-4 0-0 2; Millard 1-4 0-0 2; Renzler 0-1 0-0 0; Johnson 0-0 0-0 0; D. Massey 0-1 0-0 0; Trouten 0-0 0-0 0; Schell 0-0 0-0 0; Totals: 12-30 15-21. HILAND (55) – Hochstetter 4-14 5-6 13; E. Yoder 0-1 0-0 0; J. Schrock 0-3 0-0 0; Goings 3-6 1-1 8; M. Miller 1-5 0-0 2; Horn 2-5 0-0 4; Br. Miller 4-5 3-4 13; Beachy 5-10 0-2 13; L. Yoder 1-4 0-0 2; An. Troyer 0-0 0-0 0; Al. Troyer 0-1 0-1 0; E. Schrock 0-0 0-0 0; A. Miller 0-0 0-0 0; S. Miller 0-0 0-0 0; J. Troyer 0-0 0-0 0; Totals: 20-54 10-14.

Three-Point Goals: Bridgeport 5 (Murad 5); Hiland 5 (Beachy 3, Br. Miller 2)

North can be reached at knorth@timesleaderonline.com