Maximus Edwards of Bunnell, seen here in action from earlier this season, helped lead his Bulldogs team to the SWC Championship game. (File photo by John Nash)

SWC SEMIFINALS: Edwards, Bunnell top Kolbe, head to championship game

STRATFORD–The Bunnell Bulldogs knew stopping Quinton Sneed-Lott and the defending state champions wouldn’t be easy.

During last night’s SWC semifinal, they sure made it look that way. 

Led by a 24-point performance from junior guard Maximus Edwards, second-seeded Bunnell’s offense ignited in the second half to defeat No. 6 seed Kolbe Cathedral 73-45 Monday night.

 Edwards and the Bulldogs got off to a slower start than usual, trailing after one then taking a slim 26-22 lead into the locker room at halftime.

But it was only a matter of time before Bunnell’s all-time leading scorer got hot.

“In the second half, my shots started dropping,” Edwards said. “I feel like our defensive pressure opened up a lot for us on offense.”

Bunnell busted the game open with a 22-point third quarter, including a riveting 10-0 run that saw Edwards drill multiple three pointers from NBA range.

When all was said and done, the junior finished with a double-double, scoring 13 of his 24 points in the third quarter. 

The Cougars, who were without head coach John Pfhol due to illness, were coached by veteran assistant C.J. Shamus.

“When Bunnell made their run, I called a timeout and said we’ve just taken their best shot. We’re down nine, now we have to settle in and get back to running our stuff,” Shamus said. “They made a couple more shots than we did and that’s how the game kind of extended and got away from us.”

Kolbe, which led 16-13 at the end of the first quarter, turned the ball over constantly due to a swarming Bunnell defense and solid execution by the Bulldogs.

“I wanted to have the guys pressure the ball so that we could get up and down a little more and get Kolbe to play faster than they wanted,” said Bunnell coach Dannie Powell. “I tell everybody: just do your job.” 

With the win against Kolbe, the Bulldogs extended their winning streak to six games.

Senior guard Khalid Moreland helped run the fast break and finished with 13 points for the Bulldogs. Senior power forward Josh Giannoni had 11 points, all of which occurred in the second half. 

Sneed-Lott, who was held in check a majority of the game, finished with 14 points for Kolbe.

Bunnell moves on to the championship game this Thursday night at Newtown High School, where the Bulldogs will face top-seeded Immaculate.

Immaculate won the regular season matchup 71-59.

 “They beat us the first time, but I have a feeling this is going to be a good one.” Edwards said.  “We still have something to prove.”

The Mustangs, who have not lost a conference game all season, defeated No. 8 Masuk in the opening round of the SWC tournament and No. 4 Notre Dame Monday night in the semis.

BUNNELL 73, KOLBE CATHEDRAL 45

KOLBE CATHEDRAL (45)

Tyrell Staples-Santos 2 1-2 5; Dan Wellington 0 3-4 3; Jaden McLellan 0 0-0 0; Evan Coleman 3 0-0 8; Brandon Gadsden 0 0-0 0; Quinton Sneed-Lott 4 6-8 14; Taeshaun Sanchez 1 0-0 2; Eudell Mason 1 2-2 4; Justin Leigh 2 2-2 6; Jalen Sullivan 0 0-0 0; Robert Raphael 1 0-0 3. TOTALS: 14-36 14-18

BUNNELL (73)

Tyler Staggs-Burgess 0 0-0 0; Max Edwards 10 0-0 24; Elijah Alexandre 3 0-0 7; Derrick Gyimah 2 0-0 4; Joshua Giannoni 4 2-2 11; Khalid Moreland 5 2-2 13; Javon Wilson 1 1-2 3; Jaden McDowell 0 2-2 2; Kevin Lanham 0 0-0 0; Jerrod Leak 0 0-0 0; Jeremiah Ngbo 0 0-0 0; Tiyome Coleman 1 2-4 4; Julio Cordova 0 0-0 0; Nick Rodrigues 1 0-0 3; Sekian Nichols 1 0-0 2. TOTALS: 28-60 9-12

KOLBE CATHEDRAL   16 6 12 11 — 45
BUNNELL                 13 13 22 25 — 73

3-pointers: KC — E.Coleman 2, Raphael. B — Edwards 4, Moreland, Alexandre, Giannoni, Rodrigues.

Records: KC 11-11, B 17-5

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