Old Lyme girls have become a contender in Shoreline
Old Lyme — Old Lyme has Coginchaug and Cromwell coming up next, back-to-back on the schedule. And if the Wildcats hope to play well against two of the perennial girls' basketball powers in the Shoreline Conference, it would certainly help them to go in playing … like this.
Old Lyme got 12 points from Jordan Lewis on Tuesday night, all in the first half, to get the Wildcats running in a 55-25 victory over Valley Regional in another Shoreline matchup.
The score was a dreary 3-2 in Old Lyme's favor with 2 minutes, 35 seconds remaining in the first quarter when Lewis connected for a 3-point field goal and a three-point play consecutively to make it 9-2 after one.
“That's how it always is,” said Lewis, a 5-foot-11 guard/forward and one of the team's four senior starters. “Once one thing happens, the momentum starts going. In the beginning they pressured us and that was slowing us down. It was weird for us.”
Maddie Zrenda added 11 points for Old Lyme (7-3), freshman Emma McCullough nine and Emily Rivera eight.
Valley, which is 4–4 but has already played Cromwell, Coginchaug and Morgan, was playing without leading scorer Alexis Finnerty (14.0 points per game) due to an injury. Alena Crosby and Heather Jones had eight points each.
Lewis hit another 3-pointer and made two free throws in the second quarter as the Wildcats hit their stride, with McCullough contributing seven points in the second, once going end-to-end and finishing with a full-speed bank shot. Old Lyme led 29-11 at halftime and 43-13 after three quarters.
Zrenda started the fourth quarter with a three-point play to push the lead to 33 and coach Don Bugbee removed the Wildcats starters with 6:52 still remaining.
“They were missing their best player,” said Bugbee, who found out Finnerty wouldn't play just before the game while speaking with Valley coach Geoff Konstan. “She dropped 20 against us last season.
“She wasn't going to do that tonight,” Bugbee added with a laugh. “But we took them seriously.”
Bugbee said this team has more depth than almost any he's ever had. He used 13 players Tuesday, including seven freshmen and sophomores.
“There's not one star player,” Lewis said. “Other kids step up.”
And, as in the past, Bugbee's teams are conditioned to push the pace.
“It's a style that I like,” Bugbee said. “All you've got to do is run and put the ball in the basket. We preach it, we practice it. When it works, it looks good.”
Old Lyme plays at Coginchaug (6-3) on Friday and at home against Cromwell (8-2) on Jan. 23, both schools that compete in the Class M state tournament (Old Lyme is in Class S).
If there's one thing the Wildcats have no shortage of, it's athletes. Three of the five starters, Zrenda, Rivera and Britney DeRoehn, are coming off winning a Class S state championship in girls' soccer, the Wildcats' third straight, and they play basketball with the same sense of urgency.
“I'd like to say we can compete with (the teams coming up); you hope,” Bugbee said. “I try to keep them confident. If you're going to do something right, you might as well have fun doing it.”
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