BRADFORD – Ansonia played one of its best games of the season on Thursday, putting a damper on Bradford’s senior night as the visiting Tigers beat the Railroaders 49-33.
“I thought we played real well,” Ansonia girls basketball coach Jim Bolin said. “They was ready to go, they come out ready to go, and they did what they had to do to get the game off to a good start. Played extremely well on defense. I think that’s probably the best all-around game we’ve played as far as together, actually played like a unit tonight. The kids, I just think they did great.”
Ansonia came out strong and scored 11 of the game’s first 13 points. Bailey Stammen led the way early with six points in the first quarter while Jailyn Thwaits, Aliya Barga and Stefani Garrett also contributed to the Tiger scoring.
Mandi Bates scored four points in the final two minutes of the opening quarter as Bradford cut its deficit to 13-6 at the end of the period.
Ansonia continued to play strong defense in the second quarter and extended its lead to 25-11 by halftime.
“Kind of sloppy,” Bradford coach Patrick McKee said of his team’s play. “We didn’t really handle the pressure they gave us. Just getting the ball from one point to the other was kind of a rough point for us tonight. We got better at it. We didn’t hit some of the shots we usually did in the last couple games. And defensively I thought we got out of character a little bit. We started doing some things that kind of took us back to the first 10 games of the year rather than the last five or six.”
Abby Helmke and Brooke Neal got hot in the third quarter for Ansonia and both drained 3-pointers. The Tigers finished the period on a 7-0 run to lead 42-23 with eight minutes remaining in the game.
In the fourth quarter Bradford outscored Ansonia 10-7, but the Tigers held on for the 49-33 victory in the teams’ Cross County Conference season finale.
“You always want to peak toward the end of the season,” Bolin said. “The kids have been working real hard, and we really had a tough week this week. I asked the kids if they realized that I’ve been pretty tough on them this week. But a lot of hard work pays off in the end, and they’re realizing that, and they’re starting to get the idea of they’ve got to work hard if you want to have success.”
Stammen led Ansonia with 14 points in Thursday’s victory. Also for the Lady Tigers, Helmke scored 12 points, Thwaits scored nine, Neal scored five, Garrett scored four, Barga scored three, and Katie Werts scored two.
Bates led Bradford with a game-high 17 points. Also for the Lady Railroaders, Mackenzie Weldy scored 10 points, Kelly Moore scored four, and Chelsea Gill scored two.
Ansonia improved to 12-9 overall and 7-5 in the CCC with the win while Bradford fell to 8-12 overall and 6-6 in the CCC.
Both Ansonia and Bradford will conclude the regular season on Saturday with Ansonia traveling to Fairlawn and Bradford travelling to Lehman Catholic.
Thursday was the final home game for Bradford’s two seniors, Moore and Weldy, who were honored prior to the start of the game.
“This is a tough one for me,” McKee said. “This is my first group I’ve taken from a freshman to a senior, and I’ve seen those two girls so much. I remember the freshman year and that summer when I first got the job and they walked in the gym and I knew they were going to be something special.”
Both girls have had a lot of success on and off the court with Moore set to be Bradford’s class valedictorian and Weldy set to be the salutatorian. Their success comes from their tireless work, McKee said.
“Not only are they great basketball players, they’re great people in general,” he said. “They’re great students.”