Nudd leads Bacon past Bears and into Class M quarterfinals
Colchester — No words can replace the hollow feeling of “almost” for the high school athlete, a condition Marissa Nudd has endured for nearly a year.
Nudd was on the floor last March at Mohegan Sun Arena in the state championship game, a day Bacon Academy delivered an “almost,” losing to buzzsaw Holy Cross, an otherwise great season falling a game short.
“I know Marissa is excited for this opportunity again,” Bacon coach Kevin Fennell said Friday afternoon and his senior center led the way with 22 points and six rebounds in the Bobcats’ 57-32 victory over Stonington in the second round of the Class M state tournament.
No. 4 Bacon (19-4) advances to the quarterfinals Wednesday at Dave Shea Gym, where the Bobcats will face No. 5 Coginchaug, a 40-35 winner over No. 12 Oxford in the second round on Friday.
Bacon scored the game’s first 14 points and looked ready to repeat the 50-point beating (78-28) it gave No. 20 Stonington during the regular season. But the Bears (13-12) who won 11 of their last 15 games to end the season, cut the deficit to seven in the second and third periods.
“They were more competitive than the first time for sure,” Fennell said. “A very physical game.”
The Bobcats used at times suffocating pressure defense to create an avalanche of turnovers.
“We had some success turning teams over,” Fennell said. “We’ve stayed with it lately and utilized the length of our team. It’s been successful.”
Fennell said he didn’t care whether his team played an opponent familiar or otherwise in the state tournament.
“Regardless of who you play, you’re going to get challenges,” he said. “Our focus is on doing what we do.”
Alannah Baehr added nine points, six rebounds and three steals and Katelyn Novak had nine points, three assists and three steals for Bacon. Katelyn Cadmus led Stonington with 12 points and Rory Risley scored eight.
The Bears return most of their team next season, following a late-season surge during which they won the Eastern Connecticut Conference Division II Tournament at Mohegan Sun Arena.
But now the narrative is about Bacon and New London, the only ECC schools remaining in the state tournament.
“The rest of our team really didn’t play that much in the (tournament) last year outside of Marissa,” Fennell said. “We’re using two freshmen and two sophomores a lot. But Marissa has expressed the desire of what she wants to do with this opportunity.”