Bridgeport Takes Down Beallsville

Photo by Seth Staskey Bridgeport’s Jaren Tucker drives past Beallsville’s Harley Nalley on Thursday.

BEALLSVILLE — During the regular season, Beallsville and Bridgeport hooked up in a pair of closely contested games with each team winning on its respective home floor.

Much of the large turnout at Beallsville High School Thursday evening for the Division IV sectional semifinal expected the rubber rmatch to be a similar kind of game.

Bridgeport simply had other ideas.

Despite a sluggish first quarter in which the Bulldogs trailed by as many as 11, Greg Harkness’ club, which has now won eight of nine, put forth “maybe the best three quarters” of their season according to their second-year coach after he watched his team advance with a convincing 64-46 victory.

“I preached the last two weeks that this was going to be a tight game that would come down to making plays at the end, grabbing a couple of loose balls and making foul shots,” Harkness said. “Little did I know we’d play as well as we did in the second, third and fourth quarters.”

During that stretch of the game, the Bulldogs outscored the Blue Devils, 56-30.

In the first, the Blue Devils delivered several body blows to Bridgeport with Ashley Louden leading the charge with a nine-point outburst.

Quite simply, the Bulldogs started making shots, which is the ultimate ingredient for success.

The shooting was so impressive that it left Beallsville coach Tori Jarrett simply stunned.

“We executed our entire game plan perfectly in the first quarter, but they just started making everything,” Jarrett said. “Their shooting percentage had to be outrageous. They were hitting shots over top of people … it was crazy.”

Thanks to the scoring of senior standout Marissa Beal, the Bulldogs owned a 27-20 lead at the half. Beallsville’s deficit grew to 12 in the third, but it used a 6-0 run to claw back. However, the momentum was shortlived.

“We threw everything at them and it was like no matter what we did they just continued to hit shots,” Jarrett said. “They were hitting everything they shot, especially their 3s. I didn’t think our defense was horrible, but they were just hot.”

Junior Jaren Tucker dropped in a floater and on the ensuing possession, Beal, who led all scorers in the game with 32, connected on a 3-pointer. She added another two possessions later.

“I don’t think people realize how good Marissa is,” Harkness said. “I know our record in the beginning of the year wasn’t good and people probably wrote us off, but she averaged 16 a game and is capable of getting to the rim, a good foul shooter and can shoot it from the outside. She also rebounds and defends. She’s a good, all-around player.”

The lead grew to as many as 25 in the fourth. Beal went for 10 more in the final chapter, too.

“We imposed our will on them,” Harkness said. “Beal took over in the third quarter, hit some big 3s when they started making run to allow us to stretch it back out. Sometimes it’s just your night and I guess (Thursday) was our night.”

Beal’s impressive night was complemented by senior Lauren Neer, who connected on three bonus goals and finished with 11. On the inside, senior Kamden Dulesky put forth her usual workmanlike performance, scoring 10 and grabbing eight rebounds. Shelby Matheny also played well and contributed in numerous ways.

“You could tell our seniors weren’t ready for (the season) to be over,” Harkness said.

Beallsville, meanwhile, was led by Louden. The talented 10th grader scored 19 points. Classmate Ashlee Howell added 10.

While the Blue Devils conclude their season at 14-9, Bridgeport returns to practice today to prepare for a Shadyside club, which easily dispatched Toronto. Shadyside posted two wins against the Bulldogs during the season.

“Shadyside’s a team you’d like to have a little time to prepare for because they play kind of a different style, but the cards have been dealt,” Harkness said. “We’re going to go down and give our best effort and hope it’s good enough.”