WINSTED >> The thing to know about No. 12 Bacon Academy, coming into the Class M Boys Basketball second round against No. 5 Northwestern, is the Bobcats beat Class LL Ledyard and Class L New London to win the Eastern Connecticut Conference Tournament Championship as a warm-up for the state tournament.
Thursday evening at Northwestern High School, they played the part in a 72-45 drubbing over the Highlanders.
The Bobcats out-sized, out-rebounded, out-quicked and out-shot Northwestern from beginning to end.
“To play Ledyard and New London, you’ve gotta be quick,” said Bobcat Coach John Shea. “We played very good defense tonight.”
Six-foot-five center Austin Prevost (11 points) clogged up the middle with help from wide-body guards Zach Lawrence, Sean Kelly and Peter Kazibwe.
“(Guard Jimmy Matos), our best player, had an off night tonight,” said Shea. “They did a good job of scouting and clogged up the middle on him.”
Matos finished with nine points, including just three foul shots in the second half.
Nevertheless, Lawrence and Kelly did just fine taking his place on the scoreboard.
The Highlanders tried a 2-3 zone against them. Lawrence, finishing with 11 points, hit the first 3-pointer against it. Kelly, with a game-high 24 points, had four.
When Northwestern switched to man-to-man, the guards bulled past, fed Prevost, or scored on put-backs.
Meanwhile, the Highlanders couldn’t find the basket.
“We didn’t hit shots in the first half,” said Northwestern Coach Doug Sebach. “We had a lot of looks, but nothing goes down.”
The Highlanders have super-quick guards of their own in twins Tony and Alex Case. Along with other sharpshooters, Northwestern’s normal pattern is the same as Bacon Academy’s was Thursday – rain threes against a zone, slash and dish against a man.
Alex Case, with a team-high 15 points, found the range for three 3-pointers in the second half, but no Highlander had one in the first. Drives ran into Prevost or a swarm of Bobcats. Few Northwestern shooters had a second chance.
“They’re good, but I think if we could have made our shots in the first half, we could have made it a closer game,” said Sebach.
Without the range, the fight lasted for one minute.
Finding the first example of Class L/LL physicality, Tony Case went to the line for a 4-2 Northwestern lead with 7:02 left in the first period.
The Bobcats followed with a 15-0 run, including three threes from Lawrence and Kelly.
The period ended 19-10, Bacon Academy.
It was never close again, through 31-12 at the half and 51-30 after three, with perhaps the only Highlander consolation being Class L and LL schools couldn’t stop the Bobcats either.
Northwestern finishes the season 20-5 as Berkshire League regular-season co-champions.
Bacon Academy, 20-6, visits No. 4 Bloomfield Monday in the Class M Quarterfinals.
No. 12 Bacon Academy 72, No. 5 Northwestern 45
At Northwestern High School
Bacon Academy 19 12 20 21 – 72
Northwestern 10 2 18 15 – 45
Bacon Academy (72)
Zach Lawrence 5-0-11; Maurice Underwood 0-0-0; Peter Kazibwe 1-0-2; Jimmy Matos 3-3-9; Sean Kelly 10-0-24; Paul Chasse 5-2-12; Austin Prevost 4-3-11; George Tsakiris 1-0-2; Reilly Dyer 0-1-1; Totals 29-9-72.
Jayson Reola 1-2-5; Tony Case 2-2-6; Alex Case 6-0-15; Tucker Kreh 4-0-8; Devin Warren 1-2-4; Zack Plitt 1-0-2; Michael Neumann 1-0-2; Sheldon Green 1-0-3; Totals: 17-6-45.
3-point goals: BA – Lawrence; Kelly 4. NW – Reola; A. Case 3; Green.
Records: Bacon Academy 20-6; Northwestern 20-5.