Bradbury was a Grand Scorer, Leader for Valley Regional Girls’ Hoops
The Valley Regional High School Class of 2023 was full of decorated student-athletes, but when looking at it on a closer scope through the lens of the girls’ basketball program, a bright light shined on the prism of the decorated Warriors’ career that was Abby Bradbury.
For the 2021-’22 campaign as a junior, Abby was named First Team All-Shoreline and to the All-State Team. She was also bestowed with the Team MVP award as well, for a Warriors’ squad that amassed 22 total victories as a Shoreline Conference finalist and state tournament semifinalist. Yet that was only a stepping stone for even bigger milestones and personal accolades in her send-off senior season.
On Jan. 24 this year, in front of the home fans at Valley Regional High School in a 68-11 rout of Hale-Ray, Abby earned her own piece of Warriors’ basketball history. While the shooting guard notched a solid performance of 27 points, seven steals, six rebounds, and five assists, Abby crossed over the 1,000 career-point threshold. She later helped lead the Warriors to the Class M State Tournament final in March and repeated her feat of making First Team All-Shoreline. She additionally finished with Valley as a two-time All-State Team selection while being a Team MVP award recipient on two occasions in two campaigns as a captain.
“Earning 1,000 points for my career was really good. It was a goal of mine to hit that mark, and so it was good to end off my career making 1,000 points,” Abby says. “It meant a lot to me, and it was a good atmosphere. It was not a huge game or crowd, but I did not know I would do it that night. The team parents and my teammates made it special for me. They stopped the game, and my friends pulled out posters for me and took pictures with me; it was really special.”
Along the way, Abby acquired a great deal of knowledge regarding persistence and staying in the fight when you may be behind the 8-ball and battling uphill through adversity, while also becoming a better well-rounded athlete and squad steward.
“Mentally, I learned a lot here about being able to bounce back from setbacks, and I also learned how communication can go a long way, because I was a lot more quiet in the beginning of my career here,” says Abby. “Physically, I improved a lot by getting in the gym every day in order to perform at a high level for this team.”
What ended up being the final victory Abby was a part of with Valley was also one of her most memorable, when the Warriors punched their ticket to Mohegan Sun by taking down a Shoreline Conference rival–additionally displaying how well their teamwork and mutual motivation paid off.
“When we beat Cromwell last year in the state semifinals to make the state final, the atmosphere and feeling around the team was something I will never forget,” Abby says. “The team-bonding events, such as team breakfasts after certain practices, were also special to me. Also, us motivating each other as teammates were special times that will stand out to me.”
Abby’s support system through the hardwood flows deeper than just through the bench and her teammates. She additionally credited her mentors and parental influencers around the program that propelled passion for girls’ basketball throughout the Valley Regional community.
“What made this team special was the girls and the amount of support the parents and the coaches put in every day,” says Abby. “The parents had a huge role in pushing us and supporting us in the sport. The connections with the girls were also special; many of us had played together since grade school.”
Valley Head Coach Jaimie Bickelhaupt explains that not only did Abby display commendable selflessness to the sport and her squad, she aided her coach’s own progression with guiding the program to prominence.
“Abby was dedicated to the sport, the program, and her teammates. She went above and beyond whenever anything was asked of her outside of basketball,” says Bickelhaupt. “She spent countless hours training and playing to help get this team where all of the girls wanted to go, which was Mohegan. I truly can’t imagine a team without her and the other seniors, because this was a team I started with when they were freshmen. Abby’s impact on the program has been something every coach wants in a player.”
Now looking ahead to a post graduate year at Cheshire Academy before hoping to major in medical biology, Abby aims to keep hitting her marks both as a student and as an athlete to form the foundation for a successful professional career as a young adult. She concludes by noting how valuable lessons she garnered from her time on the court will make that a very easily attainable objective.
“Athletically, I want to better myself and do the most I can to open up the most chances in college. Academically, I want to really focus in order to set myself up for the future,” says Abby. “A huge thing I learned is that when you are faced with a setback, you just have to keep it going. You also need to be there for others who have been there for you. I also learned a lot about the principle of how hard work will always pay off in some way.”