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Bridgeport eliminated in D-III by West Muskingum

BRIDGEPORT'S Riese O'Kernick eyes the basket Saturday night against West Muskingum in Division III sectional tournament action.

ZANESVILLE — It’s not very often that a basketball team loses its postseason opener, but still lives to play another day. Such is the case with the Bridgeport boys.

The Bulldogs, the 13th seed, ran into buzzsaw Saturday night as homestanding and No. 7 West Muskingum stormed to a 98-69 triumph in a Division III sectional tournament contest on the Tornadoes’ boards.

However, the Belmont Countians have a makeup game at Frontier remaining. A Bulldogs’ victory will give them a share of the Mid-Ohio Valley League with Monroe Central.

Bridgeport charted 10 turnovers in the first eight minutes and the hosts made them pay as they rang up 31 points.

“That was the worst game we played all season, but West Muskingum is much, much better than their seed indicated,” Bridgeport head coach Donnie Cash said. “I talked to a couple of coaches that played them and they said they’ve been ‘up-and-down.’ They were up tonight.

“They were way quicker than us. They played more physical than us,” he added. “They got a good start on us and we never recovered.”

The Tornadoes put up 21 second-quarter points to take a 52-33 lead into the lockerroom and led by as many as 31, but to the Bulldogs’ credit, they didn’t let the 35-point mercy-rule kick in and they held the hosts under triple digits.

“No it didn’t,” Cash said of the mercy rule, “but we looked like we were very slow … sluggish, whatever term you might want to use.”

Senior Riese O’Kernick led four Bridgeport players in twin figures with a game-leading 21 points. Promising frosh Quinton Burlenski added 15, while seniors Dylan Gregorcic and Cooper Dulesky went for 14 and 12, respectively.

O’Kernick also pulled down eight rebounds as the Bulldogs claimed a 22-21 advantage off the glass. Burlenski had four.

“We’ve still got that game left with Frontier with a chance to share the M-OVL championship, so I’m going to talk to the kids and tell them to keep their heads up,” Cash said. “We can go to Frontier, get a win and end this season on a positive note.”

West Muskingum also had a quartet of players in double digits. Kyle Reilly scored 20 points and Andre Crockwell came off the bench to match that total. Luke Pattison had 18 and Noah Ray 10 in a reserve role.

Bridgeport finished with 24 turnovers, which was three times what the Tornadoes had.

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