Dons fall in opener

BRIDGEPORT – One minute and thirty seconds.

That’s all it took for Bridgeport to take control of Thursday night’s high school basketball contest against Madonna on Frank Baxter Court.

The Bulldogs turned a 7-5 deficit into a 14-7 lead during the final moments of the first quarter and then cruised to a 60-36 triumph inside the John J. Havlicek Gymnasium to move to 4-0.

“The difference was you have a veteran ballclub in Bridgeport that is well-coached, very skilled, has been playing together for a while and made a good run in the Ohio (tournament) last year,” Madonna head coach Don Ogden said.

“Meanwhile we’re young, inconsistent, but very good at times.”

Oh, and the Bulldogs have Caitlyn Kroll, too.

“She’s a dandy, a dandy sophomore,” Bridgeport head coach Rob Zitzelsberger said.

Kroll set the tone, pouring in a game-high 27 points, including a 13-for-15 effort from the free throw line.

“When she gets her motor running we start playing really well,” Zitzelsberger said. “She makes us go and with (Nicole) Smolenak handling the ball we don’t have to worry about a lot of pressure.”

Kroll added seven rebounds and five steals. Smolenak also dished out five assists.

For Zitzelsberger, intensity is the name of the game. And during the early 9-0 burst that gave Bridgeport the lead for good, defensive pressure was paramount.

“We try to play good defense,” he said. “We want to push the ball. We didn’t shoot the ball well in the first half, but we’re not gonna stop shooting the ball.

“We dont live and die by the three, but when we hit them we’re pretty tough to stop.”

Maclaine Murad, who had 14 points and five steals, nailed a trey to cap the early scoring run which she started with a jumper.

The run seemed to spark a Bulldogs’ offense which, along with the Blue Dons’, was stagnant during the first six minutes of the opening quarter.

“It seemed like we had some first-game jitters there,” Zitzelsberger said. “Maybe we were looking ahead to next Monday’s game against River.

“But, once we got into the flow, we were pretty good. I think we got a lot more confident from the second quarter on.”

The Bulldogs outscored Madonna 46-29 the final three periods.

Katie Lammers and Rachel Grubbs hit back-to-back baskets to draw Madonna (0-1) to within three at 14-11 early in the second quarter. But, from there, the Bulldogs went on a 14-3 run, keyed by seven points from Kroll, that made the score 28-14.

A pair of Grubb free throws early in the third quarter cut Bridgeport’s lead to 36-25. But, again, the Bulldogs went on run.

Again, Kroll had seven points in what was, this time, an 11-1 burst as Bridgeport surged to its largest lead, 47-26, with about two minutes remaining in the third to put things away.

Monica Bragg paced the Blue Dons, playing their season opener, with 13 points.

“The main thing we wanted to see going in was a lot of effort, going after it, and they did that,” Ogden said. “So, we didn’t accomplish our goal, which was to win. But, there were some other goals we achieved, so we’ll go forward with those.”

Bridgeport 60, Madonna 36

Madonna7 12 10 7 36

Bridgeport14 17 18 11 60

M: Dowiak 0 4-4 4, Holt 0 0-0 0, Rosso 3 0-0 9, Grubbs 2 3-6 7, Platek 0 0-1 0; Travaglino 0 0-0 0, Kotten 0 0-0 0, Bragg 6 0-0 13, Lammers 1 1-2 3. Totals 12 8-13 36.

B: Kroll 6 13-15 27, Grimmett 0 0-0 0, Touten 0 0-0 0, B.Massey 2 0-2 4, Murad 5 1-2 14, Smolenak 3 2-3 8, Millard 2 2-2 7, Johnson 0 0-0 0, Renzler 0 0-1 0. Totals 18 18-25 60. 3-Point Goals: Rosso 3, Bragg; Murad 3, Kroll 2, Millard.