WESTON >> Bunnell has dominated the South-West Conference for three straight seasons.
The Bulldogs have lost just three regular-season league games in that time span. The only team to beat the Bulldogs twice, including once this season, is Notre Dame-Fairfield.
On Friday night at Weston High, Bunnell exacted revenge in a big way. The top seed beat Notre Dame 75-58 to claim its third straight SWC tournament title.
“We watched the tape the next day and I brought it up today in our little pregame practice about what we didn’t do in that (loss),” Bunnell coach Pat Yerina said.
Tournament MVP Ryan Pittman finished with 22 points for the Bulldogs (19-4).
“The difference was we didn’t knock down shots in the first game,” Pittman said. “This game got off to quick start and we got back on defense this time. We didn’t get back on defense the last game.”
The margin of victory was the largest of the three title-game victories. Bunnell defeated Bethel and Kolbe Cathedral — the other team to recently beat Bunnell — the last two years, respectively. Bunnell’s largest lead against Notre Dame Friday was 35 (62-27).
“Give Bunnell all the credit in the world. Ryan Pittman and the seniors that they have deserve all the accolades in the world. They played their butts off tonight,” Notre Dame coach Vin Laczkoski said.
Keep in mind Bunnell also lost Register All-Area performers Matt Nolting and Issac Vann each of the last two years. But with Pittman still running the show and Dante Peeler (14 points) and Aaron Samuel (11) playing supporting roles, the Bulldogs look to be ready to make another deep run in the Class L state tournament as the No. 5 seed.
Bunnell has advanced to the semifinals each of the last two years, but has never played in a state final.
Bunnell scored 13 straight points in the first quarter to build a 15-2 lead. Notre Dame fell behind after shooting 2-for-16 in the first quarter.
“We didn’t want them going to the basket. If they were going to beat us, beat us with a jump shot,” Yerina said.
Said Laczkoski: “When you shoot the way we shot to start the game and then you start hanging your head, you don’t deserve to be in the game. … In the first 14 minutes, that didn’t look like my team. They didn’t have the fight they usually have. It happens.”
The Lancers (17-6) did cut it to six (15-9) early in the second quarter. Then the Bulldogs went on a 19-7 run. Bunnell shot 12 of 16 from the floor in the second quarter and forced seven Notre Dame turnovers.
Notre Dame guard Jesse McIntosh injured the same right knee twice in the second quarter and was helped off the floor both times. He didn’t return after the second injury, finishing with two points.
“We are hoping he will be OK. If not, you have to go on,” Laczkoski said.
Any chance at a Lancer comeback ended in the third quarter when a 17-5 Bunnell run made it 62-27.
Jake Heaton had a game-high 25 points for the Lancers.
BUNNELL 75, NOTRE DAME-FAIRFIELD 58
Notre Dame 4 16 13 25 – 58
Bunnell 15 26 23 11 – 75
NOTRE DAME-FAIRFIELD (58)
Jesse McIntosh 1 0-0 2, Clinton Davidson 2 0-0 5, Jake Heaton 8 8-14 25, Jordan Pettway 6 3-4 16, Ryan Keeley 0 2-2 2, Colin Burke 1 0-0 2, Justin Federici 1 0-0 2, Jordan Genias 1 0-0 2, Damion Medwinter 1 0-0 2. Totals: 21 13-20 58
Ryan Pittman 9 2-4 22, Brett Bogdwicz 0 2-2 2, Rashaad Spain 4 1-2 10, Aaron Samuel 4 3-6 11, Jaylon Eggleston 1 0-2 2, Nick Giannoni 1 0-0 2, Donte Peeler 7 0-2 14, Zhyaire Fernandes 3 0-0 6, Pat Gough 3 0-0 6. Totals: 32 8-18 75
3-point goals: Notre Dame-Fairfield 3 (Davidson 1, Heaton 1, Pettway 1); Bunnell 3 (Pittman 2, Spain 1); Records: Notre Dame-Fairfield 17-6; Bunnell 19-4
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