Bridgeport takes down River
By BUBBA KAPRAL
For The Times Leader
WOLFHURST – Bridgeport is a much-improved basketball team this winter. That improvement was on full display Friday night at John J. Havlicek Gymnasium.
The Bulldogs came off a halftime deadlock with River to turn in a superb second half performance in pocketing a 49-46 win over a young but quality River quint on Frank Baxter Court. The win for Coach Donnie Cash’s squad avenges an earlier 81-65 loss to the Pilots.
“We played a complete four quarters tonight. After the Bellaire game we stressed that we need to play a complete game,” Cash said. “Tonight we did that. When we do we are a good team.
“After the first quarter we were able to lock down on Ty Long. He really hurt us early,” he added. “It is a nice team win. We now must get ready for Toronto.”
Long, a talented 6-2 sophomore, tallied 11 points in the opening quarter. He finished with 17 markers.
The win was the fourth in eight starts for the Bulldogs, who welcome Toronto this afternoon. Jayvee tip is set for 4 p.m.
River, meanwhile, dipped to 3-2. The Pilots host Barnesville this evening.
Bridgeport, playing without the services of starter Dylan Gregorcic, received a sparkling effort from Riese O’Kernick. The talented senior tossed in a game-high 18 points, 12 coming prior to intermission.
Senior Cooper Dulesky delivered 12 points for the winners while hard-working classmate Adam Sommer added nine points and some superb defensive play. Rising freshman Quinton Burlenski chipped in with seven points and some key hustle plays at crunch time.
“Give Bridgeport credit. They played harder than us,” veteran River coach Mark Romick offered. “Bridgeport got the loose balls and the 50-50 balls. You have to tip your hat to them.
“We got happy after the first quarter and didn’t execute the offense as we should. We also committed way too many turnovers,” he added. “We also hurt ourselves at the foul line. When you don’t play hard and also turn the ball over you don’t win.”
River was just six-of-14 from the charity stripe. Pilot sophomore Brody Lollathin was Long’s top scoring support with 15 points.
The Hannibal-based charges led 16-10 after one quarter before O’Kernick netted five points in the second quarter to draw the hosts even at 25-25 at intermission. Bridgeport applied some fullcourt pressure in the third frame and surged to a 38-31 advantage entering the fourth quarter.
The hosts were in solid shape after Dulesky goaled with 3:45 remaining in the contest, boosting the Bulldog lead to 45-38.
Promising Pilot freshman Kabel Isaly netted a free throw to pare the deficit to six before the Bulldogs began to milk the clock. However, a turnover yielded a Lollathin layup, making it a 45-41 lighting.
Two Bridgeport turnovers proved harmless as the Pilots failed to score on two trips. Sommer netted a free throw with 1:22 showing to bump the lead to 46-41.
River closed to within three on the strength of a Chase Lawrence putback. O’Kernick slowed the River surge with a charity toss with 53.5 ticks showing for a 47-43 Bulldog edge.
The Pilots subsequently turned the ball over. Sommer calmly drained two free throws with 18.4 seconds showing for a 49-43 count.
The visitors refused to quit, however. River Thompson buried a trey with 10.2 ticks left to make it a three-point game.
The Bulldogs gave the Pilots renewed hope by turning it over with 7.7 seconds to play. River, however, misfired on two three-point attempts, securing the win for the Cashmen.
River committed 15 turnovers, three more than the Bulldogs.
No reserve game was contested.
RIVER (46) – Lollathin 7, 0-2 15; Long 6, 5-8 17; Longwell 3, 0-2 6; Isaly 0, 1-2 1; Lawrence 2, 0-0 4; Potts 0, 0-0 0; Thompson 1, 0-0 3. Totals 19, 6-14. BRIDGEPORT (49) – Burlenski 3, 1-4 7; Sommer 2, 4-6 9; O’Kernick 7, 1-4 18; Dulesky 4, 4-4 12; Williams 0, 0-0 0; Stanton 0, 0-0 0; Jackson 1, 0-0 3. Totals 17, 10-18.
Three-point goals: River (2) – Lollathin (1), Thompson (1); Bridgeport (5) – O’Kernick (3), Jackson (1), Sommer (1).