Bacon Academy junior Cara Shea directs the offense as Rocky Hill’s Katie Harding plays defense. The Bobcats would rally to beat the Terriers 51-45 at Rocky Hill High School on Jan. 24
For the first 16 minutes against Rocky Hill, Bacon Academy girls’ basketball didn’t look like themselves.
The Bobcats, who entered the contest 13-0, trailed by as many as a dozen points in the second quarter and were down 28-19 at the break before rallying in the second half to win 51-45 at Rocky Hill High School, earning their 14th win in as many games.
The tale of two halves came on the second night of back-to-back games for the Bobcats who had defeated Amistad at Bacon Academy High School the previous night.
Whether it was fatigue or lack of execution, Bacon had trouble finding their footing on the road. The home Terriers made the extra pass, assisting on nearly every bucket and running a press defense in the first half that frustrated the Bobcats, causing multiple turnovers.
Head coach Kevin Fennell said the team used the halftime break to regroup.
“I think they got a little more focused and they started sharing the ball more,” added Fennell. “We missed a few shots [in the first half] that we may have made in other games.”
The tide began to turn on the first possession of the third quarter when junior Cara Shea canned a triple from the top of the arc, prompting a 15-2 scoring spurt for the Bobcats.
Five different Bacon players scored during the third quarter scoring run, which put the Bobcats up 34-30 with 3:03 to play in the third.
“When we share the ball we get better looks and the shots start falling,” stated Fennell. “Getting higher percentage shots has been important for us all season.”
Fennell was pleased with the offense, yet he said it was the other end of the court that allowed them to chip away at the deficit and eventually take a lead they would not surrender.
“We challenged them a little defensively and I think [our players] responded to it,” added Fennell, whose team increased the tempo in the second half, leading to several transition buckets.
Sophomore Katelyn Novak led the defensive charge, registering six steals and blocking five shots.
Novak added nine points, eight rebounds, and four assists in the win.
“Katelyn has been willing to do whatever is asked of her. Whether it is a timely three or a rebound or a block shot or coming up with a steal; she is just an all-around basketball player,” Fennell said of the multifaceted Novak. “She applied herself in a lot of ways tonight and was a huge part of that comeback.”
After being held to two points in the first quarter, senior captain Marissa Nudd heated up over the final three quarters to score a team-high 17 points.
Nudd, a Southern Connecticut State University-commit, also grabbed eight rebounds and sealed the game with a pair of free throws to put the Bobcats up 51-43 with under a minute to play in regulation.
It was also the next generation of Bobcats that made a big impact in the second half.
Clinging to a one-point lead late in the third quarter, freshman Alannah Baehr pulled up and sank a 3-pointer to end the quarter and give the Bobcats a 39-35 lead heading into the final eight minutes.
Baehr finished with nine points, seven coming in the second half.
“It’s been fun to watch Alannah’s progression,” stated Fennell. “She has been paying attention to the decisions she makes in different spots and she has been recognizing what works and what doesn’t. She certainly has a high level of potential.”
Rocky Hill made a final push in the fourth, going on a 7-0 scroing run behind a pair of layups from freshman Katie Harding, who scored a game-high 21 points and grabbed eight rebounds.
But it was too little, too late as Nudd grabbed an offensive rebound and was fouled before making the game-clinching free throws.
Prior to the contest, the Terriers had won six of their previous seven games and head coach James McKinnon said the team’s first half performance was one of the best halves of basketball they had played all year.
However, they were unable to maintain their same defensive pressure and offensive fireworks in the second half.
“Their pressure and height got to us,” McKinnon said of Bacon’s turnaround. “They got a lot more deflections in the second half and they out-rebounded us in the second half. They are 14-0 for a reason.”
During the first 14 games, the Bobcats outscored their opponents by an average of 23 points per game.
It’s been a terrific start for Fennell, who was previously an assistant coach with the program and was the head coach of the boys’ basketball program at the school from 2008-2013.
Following the win over Rocky Hill, Fennell and the team suffered their first setback, losing consecutive games to Ledyard and East Lyme to bring their overall record to 14-2.
They will now start a three-game home stand on Monday, Feb. 6 when they welcome Norwich Free Academy to Bacon High for a 6 p.m. tip.
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Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin