Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Sports

Red-Hot Warriors Run Record to 11-0

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The Valley Regional girls’ basketball team improved its record to 11-0 after earning wins versus Hale-Ray and Coginchaug last week. Photo courtesy of Jaimie Bickelhaupt

The Valley Regional girls’ basketball team improved its record to 11-0 after earning wins versus Hale-Ray and Coginchaug last week. (Photo courtesy of Jaimie Bickelhaupt)

The Valley Regional girls’ basketball team has been on roll all season long. The Warriors claimed victory in both of last week’s contests to stay undefeated with a record of 11-0 for the winter campaign.

Head Coach Jaimie Bickelhaupt expressed great excitement about what her team has achieved thus far this year. The Warriors will close out the regular season by playing nine games in a 16-day stretch prior to competing in Shorelines and states.

“Nothing about our road to the conference or state championship will be easy,” Bickelhaupt said. “But I know the type of players I have, and they’re just as excited as I am.”

Valley continued its superb season by picking up two more wins last week, beginning with a 58-18 home victory against Hale-Ray on Jan. 25. Junior captain Abby Bradbury scored 24 points to go with 4 assists and 8 steals for the Warriors in the win. Bradbury hit four shots from beyond the 3-point arc to help Coach Bickelhaupt’s squad defeat the Noises.

“I think Abby is a contender for [Shoreline Conference] Player of the Year,” said Bickelhaupt of Bradbury. “She has had some great games thus far. Her game is developing really nicely.”

Sophomore Olivia Cunningham had 11 points with 8 rebounds, 2 steals, and 3 blocks in the victory. Freshman Regan Grow scored 10 points to go with 8 boards and a pair of blocks.

Junior Siena Schaller scored 5 points with 3 steals for Valley, while senior captain Bitzy Klomp also had 3 steals and scored 4 points. Freshman Rubee Cecchini grabbed 10 rebounds, and senior captain Ava Cunningham had 3 assists.

The scorching-hot Warriors continued their unbeaten streak by posting a 48-36 road win over Coginchaug on Jan. 27. Valley jumped out to a 16-6 lead in the first quarter and was up 34-19 at halftime. The Blue Devils outscored Valley 12-6 in the third quarter to cut the deficit to 40-31 entering the fourth, but the Warriors won the final frame by an 8-5 margin to come away with the 12-point victory.

Bradbury had another big game with 24 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 steals for Valley Regional. The Warriors also received a solid effort from junior Lily Grow, who scored 11 points and committed no turnovers in the game.

Coach Bickelhaupt has been impressed with the performance of Grow and fellow post player Olivia Cunningham this season. Cunningham had 7 points with 5 boards in the win.

“They are stepping up on the offensive end and giving me solid minutes,” said Bickelhaupt. “I’m excited to see how their next five weeks play out.”

Ava Cunningham had 3 assists for Valley versus Coginchaug, while junior Elizabeth Allen added 4 points. It was the 11th-conseuctive win to start the season for the Warriors, who are setting their sights on achieving some big-time goals in the playoffs.

“We set the expectation and goal of our team at the beginning of the year and that is to play for the Shoreline and state championship,” Coach Bickelhaupt said. “I think we have put ourselves in a great spot to reach those goals. Everything is coming together on the floor, and now we just need to execute.”

Seniors Klomp and Cunningham are leading Valley as the team’s captains alongside junior Bradbury. At guard, the Warriors feature junior Schaller, sophomore Sharmel Rivera, and freshmen Cecchini and Emma Gibson. Their front court includes junior Lily Grow, sophomore Olivia Cunningham, and freshman Regan Grow.

With her team entering the second half of the season, Coach Bickelhaupt wants the Warriors to stay safe while competing amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We only have 11 girls in the program, 10 who are viable to play. Just a few cases would put us in a tricky spot,” said Bickelhaupt. “The coaches and I remind our girls about that and being smart outside of school and basketball every day, and I think they’ve done a phenomenal job so far staying healthy and putting the team first.”

Valley Regional faced North Branford earlier in the week and now has a road game against East Hampton coming up, followed by home games versus Fitch, Old Lyme, and Haddam-Killingworth. The Warriors will finish out the regular season by hosting Cromwell and Morgan and then facing those same two opponents on the road.


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