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Bridgeport uses aggressive defense to win by 40+ vs Leyton

BRIDGEPORT, Neb. - The Leyton Warriors made the trip north from Dalton Tuesday night to meet the Bridgeport Bulldogs for a midweek matchup.

The first game of the evening featured the Lady Bulldogs (8-2, 2-0 C2-12) who were coming off a home loss, 56-45, against Hershey on Saturday. 22nd year head coach Bryan Schluterbusch described the loss as uncharacteristic for his squad this season citing too many turnovers and just an inability to make shots.

They would look to bounce back against the Lady Warriors (7-3, 1-1 D2-12) coming off a double digit win against Hay Springs over the weekend. Lance Howitt, Leyton’s co-head coach, saw the group take a step forward that afternoon especially in the second half outscoring the Lady Hawks 30-11. He and coach Jed Benish were anxious to see if their team could carry over that momentum in a tough road match while playing up two classifications.

In two meetings between these squads last year, Bridgeport used turnovers to secure two victories forcing 74 Lady Warrior turnovers versus having only 20 of their own. That would be the focus again in Tuesday night’s showdown.

Leyton opened the game with a hook shot from sophomore Madelyn Watchorn to take an early 2-0 lead in the first 15 seconds, but then it was all Lady Bulldogs. Bridgeport stormed in front on a 20-0 run over the next five minutes of play primarily due to forced turnovers thanks to a suffocating full court press. By the end of the first quarter, the Lady Warriors had turned the ball over 12 times, unofficially, and the home team held a 23-5 advantage.

With the large lead in the second, the Lady Bulldogs inserted several new players into the game, but the defensive pressure didn’t slack as the reserves caused another 11 turnovers and held Leyton to just one made basket from the field. Despite a much lower scoring quarter, Bridgeport still went to the locker room at halftime with a 33-12 lead.

The second half played out much like the first with the Lady Bulldogs continuing to force turnovers which resulted in transition buckets. The Lady Warriors had much more success offensively in the third quarter as Watchorn scored six points and three other players chipped in too, but Bridgeport put up another 21 in the third to hold a 54-23 advantage heading into the final eight minutes.

With the 31-point lead, the Lady Bulldogs rested their starters in the fourth but freshman Sydney Nein showed her scoring ability off the bench as she knocked down two threes on her way to a nine point quarter and 15 point outing overall. The lead ballooned to greater than 40 points halfway through the fourth inducing a running a clock for the remainder of the quarter as Bridgeport cruised to a 69-28 victory, their fourth straight over Leyton.

Unofficially, the Lady Warriors finished with 37 turnovers in the game while the Lady Bulldogs limited theirs to just 13. Senior Brittney Newkirk earned player of the game for Bridgeport finishing with 12 points, one of four Lady Bulldogs to score in double digits, while also pulling in a team-high six rebounds and adding four assists. Watchorn also earned player of the game honors for Leyton with her performance totaling 15 points and 10 boards.

In the second game of the evening between the boys the script would mainly stay the same. According to Bridgeport (6-4, 3-1 C2-12) eighth year head coach Nick Broz, the plan would be to use defensive pressure to force Leyton into mistakes leading to points on the offensive end. The Bulldogs entered the game having dropped their last three including a heartbreaking 58-56 at home against Hershey this past Saturday.

For Leyton (2-8, 2-2 D2-12) and first year head coach Bill Wilber, not only would they have to handle a tough defense and balanced offensive attack, but the visitors also entered the game with several players dealing with an illness going around the locker room. The Warriors entered Tuesday’s outing having lost their last five in a row dating back to December 8.

Much like the start of the girls game, Bridgeport came out strong starting the game on a 13-0 run behind several early Leyton turnovers. Despite the quick start, both teams played to a 6-6 draw the remainder of the first quarter with the Bulldogs holding a 19-6 lead. The lull on offense continued for Bridgeport into the second as their first made basket from the field didn’t come until 3:15 left in the half. Even without the execution on the offensive end, the defense stayed strong for the Bulldogs forcing 18 turnovers, unofficially, in the first half and allowing the home team to head to intermission with a 31-12 lead.

Out of the locker room, Bridgeport found their offensive rhythm again putting up 27 points in the third quarter to only six for the Warriors and starting a running clock for the final minute of the quarter and continuing into the fourth.

Much like in the first game of the evening, the Bulldogs pulled their starters in the final eight minutes allowing several reserves to get extended playing time. Freshman Luis Garza took advantage of the opportunity scoring 10 points in the game, six in the final quarter, as Bridgeport rolled to a 70-24 win.

At the final buzzer, the Bulldogs had forced 34 Leyton turnovers, unofficially, on their way to the 46 point win. Senior Kyle Kildow was named player of the game for Bridgeport finishing with six points, three rebounds, three steals, and two assists, while fellow Warrior senior, Jaydin Gartner also earned player of the game recognition with 12 points and three steals.

Both teams will be on the road for their next outing in district meetings as the Bulldogs will take on Kimball Friday evening and Leyton will also be in action Friday against rival Potter-Dix.

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