Cold-shooting NFA can't keep pace with Bacon
Colchester - The score at the end of the first quarter was Bacon Academy 4, Norwich Free Academy 3, pretty much putting to rest any visions NFA coach Bill Scarlata had of his team replicating its shooting percentage from earlier in the week.
Just two days earlier, NFA shot 67 percent in a victory over Waterford.
On Friday, the Wildcats were 7-for-51 (13.7 percent), 1-for-18 (5.5 percent) in the fourth quarter.
"We got decent shots, we just rushed them," Scarlata said. "Our kids played hard. We're just going to have to get better. People are going to be all over Alyssa (Velles, leading scorer), but we'll fight through it."
It was no way to beat Bacon, however.
The defending Eastern Connecticut Large Division and Class L state champion, Bacon extended its home court winning streak to 41 straight regular season games with a 48-29 victory.
Bacon by no means played the perfect game - the Bobcats still only led 14-11 at halftime - but got 14 points, 21 rebounds and four assists from all-state senior Taylor McLaughlin, headed next season to play for Division II Southern Connecticut State University.
NFA cut the lead to 14-13 with a baseline jump shot from Brittany Molkenthin to start the third quarter, but Bacon scored 11 straight points to make it 25-13, capped with a jump shot by Michaela Siver and two free throws by Carlee Putnam.
Bacon (2-0, 2-0) made 9 of 10 free throws in the final four minutes to lengthen the lead.
"That's the way we play," Bacon coach Dave Shea said. "We just hang in there and wait for an opportunity. We try to keep the defense constant. ... It was a hard-fought high school game; sometimes it's not as pretty."
Bacon won last year's Large Division title, but NFA won the ECC tournament, giving this year's matchup a certain cachet.
NFA, however, is minus a pair of starters from that team in Kayla Donovan (knee injury) and Olivia Marks (ankle), although Marks has returned despite not yet being at full strength.
The Wildcats (3-2, 1-1) have also played five games to start the season, generating some fatigue, Scarlata said.
A few positives Friday night came from senior guard Simone Cooper (six points) and freshman forward Cebria Outlow, as Scarlata switched up his lineup to test different combinations.
The Wildcats also induced McLaughlin to pick up four fouls and Sarah Rogers (eight points) to foul out.
Velles finished with 13 points for NFA, going 10-for-10 from the free throw line.
"That was our toughest game so far this year," said Velles, the Most Valuable Player of last year's ECC tournament. "We've been preparing for it; we know they haven't lost here in a long time.
"We didn't shoot very well. We never shoot well against them it seems. We just have to be patient with injuries and stuff. We're going to get better."
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