FAIRFIELD — The Bethel girls’ basketball team won its third straight game Saturday to earn a berth in the the CIAC Class MM state tournament.
Carrying a 5-5 record into the week, Bethel first strung together victories against New Milford and Joel Barlow then capped it off with a 47-39 victory over Fairfield Ludlowe.
Trailing after three quarters, Bethel was able to hold Ludlowe to just one point in the fourth to secure the victory.
Maranda Nyborg led the charge with 24 points for Bethel while Vicky Gracy contributed 10 points.
“Maranda’s leadership was unbelievable,” Bethel coach Anderson Rawlings said. “The way that she was able to take double teams and triple teams, find her teammates and still be calm enough to just go out and play basketball and do what she loves to do.”
After a relatively evenly played first half, Bethel carried a 29-26 lead into the third quarter. But Ludlowe started the quarter with a 7-0 run over a 4:47 span to take its first lead since the game’s opening basket.
“In the third quarter we really shared the basketball,” Ludlowe coach Sara Kinsley said. “We got some good passes and had an inside-out look against their zone. A goal of ours is to come out and win the third quarter and we did that tonight.”
Trailing 38-36 in the fourth, Bethel flipped the script with lockdown defense, outscoring Ludlowe 11-1.
“Defense,” Rawlings said. “I have said it many times, when they play defense as a team, and they are rebounding, moving and communicating, this team is very difficult to score on. When they bottle down and play that great defense I know what they are capable of. They are tough to beat.”
“I think that we had the mindset of coming into the fourth quarter with intensity,” Kinsley said. “We missed a few quick shots and we couldn’t get the ball in the basket.”
With the ever-so important eighth win behind it, Bethel (8-5) will look to build on its three-game winning streak at Stratford on Tuesday.
“It has been a hard road with us,” Rawlings said. “This one was a hard one again and we are excited. They got to sweep the week which we wanted to do. We won all three games this week and we clinched states so they are excited and it let’s us know we have a shot.”
Ludlowe (5-7) was denied in its quest for a third straight win and will look to rebound against New Canaan Monday.
“My biggest takeaway from today is how tough Ludlowe basketball is,” Kinsley said. “We are ready for what’s next. We are going to continue to work and continue to be in these close games and hopefully get the win in the end.”
BETHEL 47, LUDLOWE 39
Mia Prazeres 0 1-3 1 Ruby Ackerman 1 0-1 2 Vicky Gracy 4 2-3 10 Brooke Lacey 2 5-6 9 Maranda Nyborg 8 8-9 24 Totals: 15 15-19 47
Sophia Lemley 2 1-2 6 Juliet Bucher 0 2-2 2 Emma Torello 3 2-2 9 Anna Paulmann 2 2-3 6 Laura Herron 2 1-2 5 Kaleigh Sommers 1 2-4 4 Ira Boci 2 0-0 5 Caitlin Finnegan 1 0-0 2 Totals: 13 10-15 39