SIMSBURY—After Bunnell High’s 35-33 win over Simsbury in the opening round of the Class L state tournament had been wrapped up, Amanda Zdru could joke about her minor transgressions.
“I was just trying to keep the game close,” she said with a sheepish grin, referring to her uncharacteristic five missed foul shots in the fourth quarter.
In the final 13 seconds of the game, though, Zdru came up huge, making the go-ahead basket on a driving runner and then sinking one foul shot to clinch the Bulldogs’ first postseason victory since 2010.
“Like I said all season long, these girls have been stepping up,” Bunnell coach Francisco Salazar said. “They play with passion and they’re such scrappers out there. I’m just so proud of them.”
The 17th-seeded Bulldogs (12-9) will face a familiar foe in the second round as they travel to Fairfield to take on the top-seeded Notre Dame Lancers. Game time on Friday is slated for 6:30 p.m.
Bunnell led 27-24 after three quarters before Simsbury’s Katie Sullivan drained back-to-back, long-range 3-pointers to give the 16th-seeded host Trojans (11-10) a 30-27 advantage.
Simsbury kept the lead (33-32) until the final 30 seconds of play.
After the team’s swapped turnovers, Zdru took the ball to the hole, got bumped and tossed up an off-balance shot before falling to the floor.
As she looked up from her back, though, the ball bounced around the rim before rolling through the net for a 34-33 Bulldogs lead with 13.3 seconds to play.
“That was crazy,” Zdru said. “I think it really picked up the team a little because I could feel their energy when they lifted me back up (off the ground). I was just hoping to get it up on the rip and hoped something good would happen.”
Zdru later added a foul shot to make it 34-33 and Sullivan missed a hurried 3-point shot as time expired, giving Bunnell the win.
Zdru finished with 14 points for Bunnell. Yovanna Cruz added nine more, all in the first half as Bunnell took a 23-22 lead.
Adrianna DeBernardo added six points and Mariana Trovarelli added five more.
The fact that Bunnell—a team that likes to run up and down the floor— was able to win a low-scoring game also impressed their coach.
“That was their game plan,” Salazar said of Simsbury’s patience. “They don’t want to run. When we had our opportunities, we were successful. We knew we could beat them off the dribble and if we didn’t make the layup, we’d probably get fouled.”
Twelve of Bunnell’s 35 points came from the foul line.
“I just hope Bunnell (High School) recognizes what these girls are doing and they start to get more recognition,” Salazar said. “I don’t know what kind of magic I’m doing. I’m not doing anything. You’d have to ask them.”
For Zdru, and fellow senior Kristin Zack, it’s been a final season to remember.
“It means a lot,” Zdru said. “Coming in with a new coach and everything, my senior year, the team has really pushed through and it’s a meant a lot to us.”
THE PHOTO ALBUM
THIS POST IS SPONSORED BY