Warriors Advance to Shoreline Semis by Defeating Old Lyme
Junior captain Abby Bradbury and the Valley girls’ basketball team advanced to the semifinals of the Shoreline Conference Tournament after earning a 59-25 first-round win over Old Lyme on Feb. 18. (File photo by Wesley Bunnell/The Courier)
Junior Siena Schaller and the Warriors completed their regular season with a 72-28 victory against Morgan on Feb. 16, notching 17 victories for that portion of the campaign. (File photo by Wesley Bunnell/The Courier)
The Valley Regional girls’ basketball team has been as good as any squad in the Shoreline Conference this winter. The Warriors continued their run of success on the court by closing out the regular season with a win and then claiming victory in their first game of the Shoreline Conference Tournament last week.
Valley Regional finished its regular season with a record of 17-3 after splitting its final two games, taking a 53-44 loss to Cromwell and then earning a 72-28 win over Morgan. The Warriors went on to post a 59-25 victory against Old Lyme in the first round of the Shoreline Conference Tournament to advance to a semifinal matchup versus Cromwell this week.
Head Coach Jaimie Bickelhaupt feels pleased with the way that her team is progressing as Valley enters the playoffs. Bickelhaupt wants to see the Warriors bring that same energy to the floor when they face Cromwell in the Shoreline semis.
“The expectation is that we show up to every game, thinking and knowing that it could be our last,” Bickelhaupt said. “If we execute our game plan, I truly believe that we will come out on top against any team we play.”
Valley Regional started off last week by taking a 53-44 road loss to Cromwell on Feb. 15. Valley had a 39-34 advantage entering the fourth quarter, but Cromwell outscored the Warriors 19-5 in the final frame to come away with the win.
Junior captain Abby Bradbury scored 11 points to go with 6 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 steals for the Warriors. Junior Lily Grow also had 11 points and 6 boards. Senior captain Bitzy Klomp scored 8 points, grabbed 6 rebounds, and had 2 steals, while junior Elizabeth Allen netted 7 points in the contest. Senior captain Ava Cunningham had 5 points with 4 assists, sophomore Olivia Cunningham had 7 boards and 2 steals, and junior Siena Schaller also had a pair of steals.
Cromwell’s victory evened the season series between the two rivals as Valley had defeated the Panthers 49-46 just five days earlier.
“Against Cromwell, we kind of let their style of play dictate how we played. We played a bit chaotic,” said Coach Bickelhaupt. “They scored 22 points from the free throw line, so we fouled way too much. We didn’t stick to our game plan in terms of defense. Offensively, we did what we wanted, but we couldn’t put the ball in the basket toward the end of the game. We didn’t embrace their aggressive play and take it back at them, and we ended up losing because of it.”
The following day, the Warriors traveled to Clinton to play Morgan and defeated the Huskies by the score of 72-28. Valley stormed out to a 23-9 lead after the first quarter and was up 39-13 at halftime. The Warriors put the game away by outscoring the Huskies 19-4 during the third quarter to bring a 58-17 lead into the fourth.
Bradbury led the way by netting 21 points, hitting four 3-pointers, to go with 7 rebounds and 6 steals in the victory. Cunningham scored 14 points and also had 5 rebounds with 2 steals. Lily Grow had 13 points with 6 rebounds for Valley.
Klomp had 7 points and 2 steals in the win. Schaller scored 5 points, Cunningham had 4 points with 8 assists and 4 steals, Allen scored 4 points and had 2 steals, and freshman Regan Grow had 6 points and 4 boards.
After losing to Cromwell the previous evening, Coach Bickelhaupt said that the Warriors were determined to play their best basketball when they hit the court to face Morgan for their regular-season finale.
“We played back-to-back games to end our regular season, and I think the girls were pretty mad about how the game went on Tuesday,” Bickelhaupt said. “It was all effort-based as to why we lost against Cromwell. The girls came out on fire in the Morgan game. They were patient with the basketball, boxed out really well, and we had great contributions from everyone on the team.”
The momentum from Valley’s victory against Morgan carried over into the first round of the Shoreline Conference Tournament. Valley, the No. 3 seed, hosted No. 6 Old Lyme for its Shoreline opener and posted a 59-25 victory versus the Wildcats on Feb. 18.
Bradbury netted 21 points for the Warriors, making five 3-pointers on the night. Lily Grow scored 14 points to help Coach Bickelhaupt’s squad advance to the Shoreline semis with an overall record of 18-3.
“We started off a little slow. I think nerves got to us just a little bit. But we made it to halftime up 10 points and made some adjustments, and the girls were able to execute those plans well,” said Bickelhaupt. “We played solid defense and attacked the basket from then on out.”
Valley played at No. 2 seed Cromwell in a highly anticipated rematch in the semifinals of the Shoreline Conference Tournament on Feb. 22 (after press time). With a win, the Warriors would face the winner of top-seeded East Hampton and No. 4 North Branford for the title on Friday, Feb. 25.
“It was great to get a win, and it was a great team effort in our game against Old Lyme,” Coach Bickelhaupt said. “We’re looking forward to playing Cromwell again.”