UNCASVILLE >> Point guard Ryan Pittman kept making sure all season long he got his message across to his teammates on the Bunnell boys’ basketball team.
“I’ve been telling the whole team, ‘Whenever you put this work in, the rewards are endless.’ I’m just going to keep living by it honestly. It’s working.”
The reward for this 2014-15 season was the biggest prize in the sport: a state championship. Fifth-seeded Bunnell pulled away from seventh-seeded Naugatuck 72-61 Sunday afternoon for the Class L title before 9,059 fans at the Mohegan Sun Arena.
“We took care of business and I’m happy for our team,” Bunnell coach Pat Yerina said.
This was not only the first state championship in school history for the Bulldogs (24-4), but also its first appearance. Bunnell had reached the Class L semifinals each of the previous two seasons.
“Winning a state championship means a whole lot to me, a whole lot,” said Bunnell forward Donte Peeler, who finished with 17 points and eight rebounds.”I couldn’t even sleep (Saturday night).”
Jarron Chapman had a game-high 29 points for Naugatuck (21-6) on 13-of-28 shooting from the floor. Naugatuck was playing in its first state final since 1974 and seeking its first championship since 1942.
“It’s tough to put into words on it, as to how proud I am of those boys in that locker room,” Naugatuck coach Mike Wilson said.
Aaron Samuel led the way with 21 points for the Bulldogs, who won the rebounding battle 34-30 and held everyone other than Chapman on the Greyhounds to 10 points or less.
“Sometimes, you let one guy do everything and stop everyone else,” Yerina said. “He (Chapman) is a tough matchup for anybody.”
As for Pittman, the floor leader finished off his career in style, too. He had 12 points, eight assists, five rebounds and two steals.
“The kid’s tough. He is a calming influence on the court, keeps them in their stuff and has a nice head on his shoulders. The kid had a nice game,” Wilson said.
Samuel hit two 3-pointers in the third quarter, the last one putting Bunnell up for good, 40-37 with 2:15 left in the period.
Bunnell put the game away with an 11-4 run in the fourth quarter to move ahead 67-54. Every point scored by the Bulldogs in the fourth quarter was either by layup or free throw.
“We started making layups at the end to extend the lead,” Pittman said.
Said Yerina: “We did a great job rebounding the whole year. They were one and done in the fourth quarter and that led to some layups.”
Naugatuck 18 6 15 22 – 61
Bunnell 13 13 18 28 – 72
Dayvon Russelle 2 4-4 9, Jarron Chapman 13 3-5 29, CJ Wall 4 2-2 10, Fejiro Onakpoma 1 1-2 3, Jason Bradley 3 0-0 8, James Mesidor 1 0-0 2. Totals: 24 10-13 61
Ryan Pittman 5 2-3 12, Rashaad Spain 1 0-0 3, Aaron Samuel 9 1-2 21, Donte Peeler 6 5-11 17, Brett Bogdwicz 0 0-0 0, Pat Gough 3 0-0 6, Nick Giannoni 3 1-4 7, Zhyaire Fernandes 2 2-2 6. Totals: 29 11-22 72
3-point goals: Naugatuck 3 (Russelle 1, Bradley 2); Bunnell 3 (Spain 1, Samuel 2); Records: Naugatuck 21-6; Bunnell 24-4
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