Bacon Academy junior Marissa Nudd attacks the basket during the Bobcats 66-55 loss to New London in the ECC title game at Mohegan Sun on Feb. 22
Bacon Academy girls’ basketball lost to New London in the Eastern Connecticut Conference (ECC) Division I championship game, falling 66-55 at Mohegan Sun on Feb 22.
It was only the team’s third loss this season and the first conference defeat, ending a ten-game conference winning streak.
Playing under the bright lights of the Mohegan Sun Arena, the Whalers—who were the #2-seed— jumped out to an early advantage on the top-seeded Bobcats and never looked back.
New London was able to find holes in Bacon’s zone defense, scoring 38 points in the first half and taking a 17 point lead into the break.
Nalyce Dudley, who was named the tournament’s most valuable player, led a second quarter surge, scoring 11 on her 25 in the frame.
Bacon’s largest and last lead was 10-7 in the first quarter on a rebound putback by Valerie Luizzi, who scored a team-high 25 points.
New London countered by going on a 12-4 run to take a lead they would not relinquish.
Marissa Nudd, who finished with 18 points and eight rebounds, converted a layup to narrow the deficit to 19-18 early in the second quarter before New London went on another scoring run—this time a 19-3 spurt to close out the half.
Bacon trailed by as many as 24 in the second half but slowly chipped away thanks to Luizzi and Nudd, who carried the team over the final 16 minutes.
A pair of steals and four straight points by Luizzi cut the deficit to nine points in the fourth, but it was too little too late for the short-handed Bobcats, who were playing without senior guard and defensive standout Ashley Lizotte.
Luizzi said playing at Mohegan was a “surreal” experience.
As a sophomore, the now-senior captain was unable to play because of a broken wrist when the team made the ECC finals in 2020. Last season was limited because of the COVID-shortened season, so the team made it a goal this winter to make a march to Mohegan.
“Making it back to play for my senior year was one of my goals and we couldn’t have done it without the whole team. We had a lot of people step up to help us get there. We have an amazing group of underclassmen who help make our team better every day,” added Luizzi, who was named to the all-tourney team with Nudd.
The goal now turns to making another run towards the Sun in the state tournament.
Prior to the conference championship game, the Bobcats had won 20 of 22 games.
Bacon Academy’s regular season record earned them the #2-seed and a first round bye in the Class M state tournament. The Bobcats will face #15 Griswold on Fri., March 4 at Bacon Academy High School. The second round game will tip at 6:30 p.m.
It will be the latest challenge for a team that has faced a slew of obstacles this winter, including COVID-restrictions, injuries, and the controversy surrounding the accusation of a fan using a racial slur during a game at Ledyard High School in early-February.
Through it all, the players have continued to grind and remained above the fray.
“The team has been resilient this year. We have had to overcome challenges both physically and emotionally that most teams haven’t had to deal with,” stated Luizzi. “We were a close team to start the season and have used these challenges to motivate us each game. We pull each other up and all have the same mindset when it comes to winning.”
Bacon’s 18-2 regular season was tied for the second-best record in Class M, behind Holy Cross, who finished 20-0.
With three tourney wins, they would get a shot at championship redemption on the court that the WNBA’s Connecticut Sun calls home.
“We have been so successful this year because we all push each other to be better and know we can count on each other on and off the court,” added Luizzi. “We are 100% focused on the state tournament. We are taking it one game at a time. We know there are a lot of good teams in our bracket but we are hungry for the win. We plan to make it back to Mohegan.”
Bacon Academy senior captain Valerie Luizzi shoots a foul shot at Mohegan Sun Arena as (#30) freshman Katelyn Novak looks on
Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin