Bulldogs overcome sloppy start

BEDFORD – The Alvirne High School girls basketball team had all the hustle points it needed to beat Bedford on Friday night.

But putting points on the scoreboard was the Broncos’ downfall.

Alvirne played intensely throughout the night, creating second-chance opportunities, drawing contact and diving for loose balls to stay within reach, but the Bulldogs proved too much on both ends of the floor in a 48-37 win over the Broncos (5-3).

Alvirne’s defensive effort in the first half impressed against a deeper, more talented Bedford team, which improved to 8-1 with the win. The Broncos couldn’t finish enough at the rim or the free-throw line to keep up with the Bulldogs in the second half.

"We were a little streaky," Broncos coach Scott Szuksta said. "I thought we did well when we were in transition. I thought we did well when we worked the ball inside. But a little Helter Skelter at times. We just need to have a little composure."

Alvirne got within a point of Bedford in the second quarter after it switched to a zone defense, going on an 8-0 run that spanned the first six minutes of the period and made it 19-18. The Bulldogs rushed their possessions and began shooting on the first pass, and the Broncos capitalized in transition. Katie Bellomo got a driving layup, Samantha Ratte was strong and Sara Siteman scored off a turnover.

"Being aggressive is important to us," Szuksta said.

Bedford ended the run with a free throw and Rachel Widrig hit a huge 3-pointer in the final seconds to extend the advantage to 23-18 at halftime.

Bulldogs coach Sue Thomas said her team adjusted to the zone at halftime and emphasized better ball movement. Those adjustments paid off in the third quarter as Bedford scored a pair of quick buckets and took off on a 14-5 run to pull away with a 37-23 lead.

"We just talked about what are good shots, and working the ball more, and waiting for open shots" Thomas said, "and I thought they came out and played a great third quarter."

Bedford’s defense also created opportunities, as Brianna Purcell led the break in transition and found teammates in 2-on-1 advantages.

Senior Jessica Baker led Alvirne with 12 points, while Ratte (six points) and Amanada Wetmore (five) also contributed offensively for the Broncos.

Alvirne never got closer than 11 points in the fourth quarter, but played well in its full-court press. Szuksta was happy with the effort throughout despite the inconsistency on offense.

"I was pretty pleased," he said. "I thought we played really tough, intense the whole time and just didn’t have a lot of shots fall our way.

"(Bedford) is a really tough team, a really deep team. I thought my team did a good job competing."