There is an old sports credo that talks about not looking past the next game.
The boys basketball teams from Bunnell and Stratford are going to have to take that to heart on Friday as the second-seeded Bulldogs and third-seeded Red Devils enter the SWC tournament.
A semifinal matchup between the two arch-rival looms, but Bunnell coach Dannie Powell and Stratford coach Tim Swaller know their teams can’t afford to look past their quarterfinal matchups.
After all, a loss by either team leads that dream matchup in the semis unfulfilled.
Both must win tonight to advance.
Bunnell will host seventh-seeded Newtown at 7 p.m. while Stratford will entertain sixth-seeded Kolbe Cathedral at the same time.
The 15-5 Colonial Division champion Bulldogs have won four straight games, including a 78-75 decision over the Nighthawks in their season
“We’re focused solely on Newtown,” Bunnell coach Dannie Powell said. “We’re not even thinking about the semifinals. We know how hard that game (on Tuesday) was and they’re itching to play us again.”
The Bulldogs were down 21 in that game before storming back to the take the win.
Would Powell rather not play a team back-to-back going into the postseason?
It doesn’t matter, he said.
“Honestly, it’s tournament time, so anybody you play is going to be a tough game,” he said. “Our team is aware that Newtown is good. You’re going to play tough teams. It is what it is, but we’re ready.”
The Bulldogs will be led by junior standout Maximus Edwards, who as a side note is 13 points away from becoming Bunnell’s all-time leading scorer.
Seniors Khalid Moreland and Elijah Alexandre are two others keys along senior co-captains Javon Wilson and Josh Giannini.
Down at Needham Gym, the Red Devils will host Kolbe Cathedral.
Stratford posted a 52-41 win over Kolbe at the Sheehan Center in Bridgeport back on Jan. 31.
“It’s a playoff game, so our focus right now is on Kolbe,” Swaller said. “We have to take it one game at a time. We’re playing a very good team in Kolbe.”
Jack Ryan is coming off a 16-point game that pushed him past the career 1,000-point milestone, but he is just one of many weapons the Red Devils possess.
Seniors Mike August, Zack Fedak and Preston Williams will be key along with junior Joe August and freshman Jayquan Kirkland.
“We’ve had a lot of guys step up for this season,” Swaller said.
If players from Bunnell and Stratford both step up on Friday, next week could bring another great chapter in the town’s rivalry.
First, however, the Bulldogs and Red Devils have to get there.