— Will Aldam (@AldamWill) January 7, 2020
STRATFORD — The Stratford boys basketball team showed up in front of a sold-out home crowd against crosstown rival Bunnell in a 58-50 non-conference victory Monday night.
Joe August and Mike D’Aloia led the way for Stratford with 14 points apiece.
“Joey (August) is a player,” Stratford coach Tim Swaller said. “He made some big plays for us, great passes, hit some shots, and was able to control things for us. With Mike D’Aloia it’s the same thing, he hit some big three’s and he played with some fire.”
Kevin Lanham led Bunnell with 18 points, followed by Tiyorne Coleman’s 14.
Stratford got off to a strong start behind two early 3-pointers by August and an 11-6 lead after the first quarter.
Bunnell answered back before halftime, however, going on an 8-2 run in the final minutes to take a 25-23 halftime lead.
“We had 13 turnovers at halftime, way too high,” Swaller said. “It was a game that was going fast, at times we were letting it go too fast. We talked about that and playing within ourselves and we got a good start to the third quarter which I think set the tone for us going forward.”
Stratford broke out in the third quarter, dropping 22 points against Bunnell’s nine for a 45-34 lead it would never relinquish.
August and his Stratford teammates held a steady lead of eight points or better throughout the fourth quarter.
“We knew both teams were going to play hard and both teams are talented,” Swaller said. “The team that made the little plays was going to be the team that came out on top. I thought my guys did a great job in the second half taking care of the ball and making some of those little plays, making a stop or a rebound of whatever to come out on top.”
The start to the season has not been stellar for either team. After a 64-63 victory over Trumbull, Stratford (3-2) turned around the next day and lost to Barlow 61-43.
“We have a young team,” Swaller said. “We have some inexperienced guys, and some new guys who are playing up. We had a great effort against Trumbull, who is a very good team and we came out the next day against Barlow and we were flat. They are a good team but we got outworked, we got outhustled and we were flat. We looked like the team that played Trumbull tonight.”
Monday, however could mark a turning point for the young Red Devils, riding potential momentum after defeating its rival without a key player in Jayquan Kirkland, who is expecting to return from an ankle injury on Friday according to Swaller.
Bunnell (2-4) defeated Darien in its opening game but dropped the next three before regaining form against Harding on Friday.
“Right now we are trying to find ourselves,” Bunnell coach Dannie Powell said. “We have to do more collectively rather than individually. Tonight we got outplayed and outcoached and I think the environment was a little too big for us.”
The teams will meet again at Bunnell on Feb. 11 in a SWC game.