ANSONIA – In a battle of two teams that still are learning how to close out wins Ansonia finished stronger than Bradford Tuesday night and came away with a 64-56 non-conference victory.
After trailing for most of the game, the Bradford boys basketball team battled back to tie Tuesday’s game at 45-45 with just four minutes remaining. Ansonia kept its composure, though, and went on a 19-11 run to seal the victory.
“It’s really good, especially a team that we’re not really used to winning,” Ansonia coach Chad Cramer said. “We didn’t panic when they made a push. I thought we were still playing pretty well offensively when they were making the push. The shots were just not falling. We took the same shots the rest of the game that we were during that stretch; they just went in. I thought our guys’ poise was really strong there.”
Even though his team couldn’t complete the comeback, Bradford coach Mackenzie Perry was proud of how the Railroaders continued to fight.
“That’s how we’re always going to be,” Perry said. “That’s just the new mentality of Bradford basketball. We’re not going to quit, and I’m proud of them for that effort. Like I said, as a coach it’s going to eat you up a little bit about the loss, but at the end of the day they gave the effort to win the game. We just didn’t execute down the stretch, and they did.”
Bradford’s only lead of the game came in the first quarter with a pair of points each from Josh Phillips and Alex Swabb put the Railroaders up 4-3. Led by seven points from Hunter Muir, Ansonia finished the period on an 11-3 run to take a 14-7 lead through the first eight minutes.
After failing to hit some 3-pointers early on, Ansonia found success by driving inside off the dribble. Muir, who scored 13 first half points, was especially strong at that for the Tigers.
“Our guys did a pretty good job, especially Hunter Muir really got there well,” Cramer said.
Led by Muir, Ansonia went into halftime up 28-20.
Bradford hung in the game and started to make its comeback in the third quarter. Parker Smith, who had a career-high 26 points, scored 10 in the third quarter as Bradford cut its deficit to five points at 42-37.
“I had one guard that went off for a career high in Parker Smith,” Perry said. “I’ve got to be pleased with that effort.”
After an Aydan Sanders 3-pointer for Ansonia, Bradford went on an 8-0 run early in the fourth quarter to tie the game at 45-45. Phillips, who scored 10 of his 12 points in the second half, scored six of those eight points including the equalizer.
“Josh, the opportunities have been there,” Perry said. “We’ve been trying to feed him the ball to give him some opportunities to score. He almost was at his career high.”
Ansonia regained the lead on a Sanders field goal just 33 seconds later. The junior came up big when the Tigers needed him the most, scoring 20 points in the second half including 11 in the final four minutes.
“He worked so hard in the offseason,” Cramer said. “This is three straight games of over 20 points for him. That’s a guy that averaged like four last year. That’s a big turnover, and he gets a lot of credit for his hard work.”
In the end Ansonia held off Bradford’s charge to win by eight points, 64-56.
“I liked our defensive effort tonight better than I have in the previous three games so I think we’re coming, we’re going in the right direction,” Cramer said.
Muir and Sanders led Ansonia with 22 points each on Tuesday. Also for the Tigers, Devyn Sink scored nine points, Trevor Alexander scored six, Brayden Swabb scored three, and Lane Clark scored two.
Smith led Bradford with his game-high 26 points. Also for the Railroaders, Phillips scored 12 points, Andy Branson scored nine, Walker Branson scored seven, and Alex Swabb scored two.
“We played pretty well,” Perry said. “We messed up on some defensive execution down the stretch, but overall they played well.”
Ansonia improved to 3-1 with Tuesday’s win while Bradford fell to 0-5.
“We’re trying to shake a lot of history off, and the fact that we were in here and in the ballgame, had an opportunity to win, that’s all you can ask for as a coach,” Perry said. “I’m positive because of how we played, but it still hurts because the competitor in me wants to win.”
Kyle Shaner may be reached at 937-569-4316. Follow me on Twitter @KShanerAdvocate or get updates on Facebook by searching Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.