“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
- George Santayana, philosopher, essayist and poet
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NEWTOWN—The Bunnell High School boys basketball team knows its history.
Over its previous 19 games this season, 14 of those were decided by single digs. Eight were losses.
Heading up to Newtown on Tuesday night for its regular-season finale, the Bulldogs knew it needed a win to keep the season going.
“It’s not even qualifying for the state tournament. I told the (seniors) your high school careers end tonight if you don’t bring it,” Bunnell coach Dannie Powell said. “Dig down and compete because when we play with energy we can play with anybody.”
Add one more single-digit final to the docket: Bunnell 67, Newtown 61.
The Bulldogs remain alive not to play in just one postseason, but two after a three-way, triple-tiebreaker gave Bunnell the eighth and final seed in the SWC tournament, too.
“We needed it,” Powell said. “I think we showed a lot of maturity on our end. Early in the year, those losses paid off. We kept fighting.”
Playing without leading scorer Kevin Lanham (tendonitis) for the second straight game, the Bulldogs were behind the eight-ball in more ways than one.
Senior guard Derrick Gyimah stepped up in big-time fashion, tossing in 23 points—including seven in the overtime period that won it for the Bulldogs.
“Derrick’s been playing well lately,” Powell said. “He’s stepping up and making shots, making plays.”
It was Tiyorne Coleman’s offensive-rebound put-buck at the buzzer, though, that allowed the Bulldogs to send the game to the extra four-minute period.
Coleman finished with eight points while Nick Rodrigues and Jaden McDowell had nine points each.
“They played for one another,” Powell said. “Nobody cared who scored what and we all did what we had to do to get the win.”
The victory also put Bunnell in a three-way tie for the eighth and final spot in the SWC tournament, which begins on Friday.
The Bulldogs, Stratford and Masuk were all deadlocked at 6-7 in the league.
Each team had beaten each other (Stratford actually beat Bunnell twice, but only one game was a league game) so the second tie-breaker was which squad had beaten the highest seeded team in the tournament.
Both Bunnell and Masuk had bested Newtown, activating the third tie-breaker, which was again head-to-head.
Bunnell defeated Masuk 55-54 on Jan. 23 in the league game after falling to the Panthers 70-66 early in the year in a non-league contest.
The Bulldogs will face top-seeded Immaculate in a rematch of last year’s league championship game, which Bunnell won.
“After the game, everybody was talking about last year, but I just said, ‘Hey, let’s create some new memories,’” Powell said. “No matter what our records were this season, we are still the defending champs and we have a chance to defend our title.”
Don’t be surprised if it’s a close game.
And if it is, remember, the Bulldogs have learned from the 15 close games its played this season—including a 7-point loss to Immaculate back on Feb. 7.