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Bridgeport boys outlast Shadyside

Photo/KRISTIN MAZGAJ SHADYSIDE'S Elijah Brock is surrounded by Bridgeport defenders Timmy Stanton (3) and Cooper Dulesky (23) during Saturday night's game in Shadyside. Brock scored a game-high 31 points, but the Bulldogs held on for a victory.

SHADYSIDE – If you like fast-paced basketball then the Tigers’ Den was the place to be Saturday night.

Bridgeport and the homestanding Tigers hooked up in an entertaining down-to-the-wire thriller, and when the final horn sounded the Bulldogs held on for a 76-74 repeat win. The Orange misfired on three shots in the waning seconds that could have forced overtime.

Coach Don Cash’s hard-playing cagers pocketed a 23-point win in their initial matchup with the Orange.

“It was a great game. We battled and they battled,” Cash said. “Fortunately, we came up with the stops when we needed to.”

Those last-second defensive stops were necessitated by a late Tiger push.

Bridgeport owned a 72-67 lead after senior standout Riese O’Kernick meshed two free throws with 3:39 remaining. After a Shadyside turnover, the Bulldogs went into delay mode.

Tiger senior Jacob Visnic turned a Bridgeport turnover into a hoop with 2:05 showing for a 72-69 reading. Dylan Gregorcic meshed a free throw with 1:29 left to up the visitors’ edge to 73-69.

Shadyside junior ace Korey Beckett proceeded to bury a trey seconds later, making it a 73-72 issue. Bridgeport used a Cooper Dulesky layup with 51 seconds showing for a three-point advantage.

Tiger junior point guard Mason Vannest was fouled at the 22.3-second mark. He drained both chances, drawing the Orange to within one.

Gregorcic netted a charity toss with 19 seconds to go for a 76-74 Bulldog lead. Shadyside coach Ed Andes called a timeout with 13 seconds on the clock. The Tigers were able to get off a good look followed by two close-in followups, all of which failed to drop, handing Bridgeport its sixth win in 11 starts.

“It was a back-and-forth game. We knew it was going to be much tougher than our first meeting,” Cash said. “We were a little shaky on our foul shots, but we persevered down the stretch.

“We played four good quarters tonight. That is something we didn’t do in our last game with Monroe Central,” he added. “Riese really had a breakout game and we had several other players step up.”

O’Kernick was superb. The 6-0 senior poured in 27 points, 12 coming in the opening quarter.

Promising frosh Quinton Burlenski continues to impress, netting 19 markers. Gregorcic and Dulesky delivered 16 and 10 counters, respectively.

The loss spoiled a magnificent effort from Shadyside’s Elijah Brock. The rising 6-4 sophomore took game-scoring honors with 31 points to go with nine rebounds.

Tiger senior dynamo Jordan Joseph enjoyed a very solid effort with 13 points, a handful of steals and boundless hustle. Beckett finished with 11 tallies while Visnic chipped in with eight.

Shadyside, coming off a tough loss to Shenandoah just 24 hours prior, fell to 4-6. The Tigers visit River Friday while Bridgeport hosts Buckeye Trail Monday.

“I was proud of how we battled back in the fourth. We had some good looks at the end but they just didn’t fall,” Andes said. “We have come a long way since the first time we played them. I can’t fault our effort.

“Elijah had huge night. He is getting better and better,” he added. “Give Bridgeport credit. They play very hard and they made one more play than we did.”

An entertaining first quarter saw the hosts emerge with a 27-25 on the strength of 15 Brock points. The Tigers maintained a 44-41 halftime upperhand before the Bulldogs used eight O’Kernick points and seven more from Burlenski to forge a 65-60 lead going into the fourth frame.

Bridgeport committed 12 turnovers, one less than the Orange.

No reserve game was contested.

BRIDGEPORT (76) – Burlenski 9, 1-2 19; Stanton 0, 0-0 0; Sommer 1, 2-3 4; O’Kernick 8, 8-8 27; Gregorcic 6, 4-6 16; Jackson 0, 0-0 0; Dulesky 3, 4-5 10. Totals 26, 19-24. SHADYSIDE (74) – Vannest 1, 3-4 5; Joseph 6, 0-2 13; Beckett 3, 4-5 11; Brock 14, 2-4 31; Visnic 4, 0-0 8; Wach 2, 0-0 6. Totals 30, 9-15.

Three-point goals: Bridgeport (6) – Burlenski (1), Gregorcic (2); O’Kernick (3); Shadiyside (5) – Wach (2), Beckett (1), Joseph (1), Brock (1).

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