Pictured: Abby Bradbury, Valley’s leading scorer this season, streaks past an Old Lyme defender in Saturday’s Shoreline tournament quarterfinal in Deep River. (Photo by Marc Silvestrini)
By Marc Silvestrini
DEEP RIVER — The Valley Regional girls basketball team outscored Old Lyme 16-3 in the third quarter to break open their Shoreline Conference tournament quarterfinal game en route to a 59-25 victory.
Valley’s Liz Allen led the third-quarter charge with seven points while teammate Abby Bradbury led all scorers with a game-high 21 point effort.
The Warriors defense limited the Wildcats to just eight second-half points.
As a result of their win, the Warriors will travel to Cromwell on Tuesday for a 7 p.m. semifinal matchup. The Panthers defeated Morgan 55-40 Saturday advance.
The victory improves Valley’s record to 18-3 on the season while Old Lyme slips to 13-8.
“We started the game a little bit slow on both ends of the floor, but we regrouped at the half, made some adjustments and played much better in the second half,” said Valley coach Jaimie Bickelhaupt.
She added that one of the key second-half adjustments was to be more careful with the ball on offense, cut down on turnovers and mistakes and “force (Old Lyme) to play defense every time we had the ball.”
“The kids really responded to what we told them at halftime,” she said. “They came out and played a very strong second half.”
Old Lyme coach Don Bugbee said his team, which was playing short-handed without the services of two important players, including starting center Megan Loflin, played hard but just didn’t have the firepower to keep up with the Warriors, especially in the second half.
“They (Valley) are a good team,” Bugbee said. “They’re big, they’re aggressive and they’ve got at least two all-conference players that you have to deal with.”
“Megan’s a huge player for us,” he said, referring to the injured Loflin. “We’d have enough trouble beating a team like Valley with her; without her, well, you just can’t make up for the loss of a player like that.”
Bugbee added he is hoping to have Loflin back in time for the CIAC Class S tournament.
Eight points by Bradbury and four each from Lily Grow and Olivia Cunningham helped the Warriors race off to a quick 11-point advantage, 18-7, after one quarter of play. But two straight 3-pointers by Old Lyme’s Ava Roth early in the second quarter cut the Wildcat deficit to five, at 18-13, before Bradbury, Grow and Siena Schaller combined to score nine of the quarter’s final 13 points to give Valley a 27-17 lead at the half.
The Wildcats scored the first point of the third quarter on a Melanie Warren free throw before the home team launched a 16-2 run over the final seven minutes of the period to increase their lead to 43-20 after three quarters of play.
Bradbury then hit two long — no, make that very long — 3s early in the fourth quarter to all but seal the deal.
Aside from Bradbury’s 21 points, Grow had 14 for the Warriors while Allen chipped with 11. Roth and Alexis Fenton were the high scorers for the Wildcats with eight apiece.
“She is one of the easiest and most fun-to-coach players I’ve ever had,” Bickelhaupt said of Bradbury. “She never complains, she never says a word, she just takes whatever advice, directions and criticisms I give her, works very hard on it and just keeps getting better.”
Not only does Bradbury work hard without complaint, she also appears to be a very good teammate.
“I’m pretty proud of this team, we’ve worked hard and come a long way,” she said.
When asked to identify the strongest element of her game, Bradbury never mentioned her uncanny ability to put the ball through the hoop. Instead, she talked about making it easier for her teammates to score.
“When I have the ball I know that if I can get the defense to concentrate on what I’m doing, I can get someone else on my team open,” she said.
OLD LYME (13-8)
Ava Roth 3 0 8, Mary Surprenant 0 0 0, Ella Curtiss Reardon 0 0 0, Kate Walsh 2 0 4, Melanie Warren 1 1 3, Ali Kyle 1 0 2, Grace Ferman 0 0 0, Alexis Fenton 3 1 8, Kelly Sheehan 0 0 0. Totals: 10 2 25.
VALLEY REGIONAL (18-3)
Ava Cunningham 1 0 2, Abby Bradbury 7 2 21, Bitzy Klomp 1 0 2, Liz Allen 5 0 11, Olivia Cunningham 2 1 5, Siena Schaller 2 0 4, Lily Grow 6 2 14, Regan Grow 0 0 0, Rubee Cecchini 0 0 0 Totals 24 5 59.
Score By Quarters
Old Lyme……7 10 3 5–25
Valley Reg..18 9 16 16–59
3-pointers: Valley–Bradbury 5 Allen 1.