Boosted by strong start, Bunnell advances

Led by five players scoring in double figures, No. 9 Bunnell knocked out No. 24 St. Joseph 79-68 to open the Class L tournament on Monday.
Issac Vann posted team-highs of 25 points and 11 rebounds as the Bulldogs (19-5) — fresh off their second straight SWC title — advanced to Wednesday’s second round.
“We played a smart game,” coach Pat Yerina said. “We ran our stuff, we got shots where we wanted to get them, and we basically got some stops.”
The Bulldogs led by double digits for most of the first half, but St. Joseph (10-12) trimmed it to 41-32 entering halftime. The Cadets got as close as five on two different instances in the fourth quarter.
Point guard Ryan Pittman recorded 16 points, nine rebounds and nine assists. Forward Donte Peeler had 14 points and 10 rebounds. Justin Townsend (11 points) and Aaron Samuel (10) also cracked double figures in scoring.
The Bulldogs were especially strong on the glass, pulling down 43 rebounds as a team.
“We’ve always got to out-rebound everybody,” Pittman said. “We don’t like them getting second shots.”
Now, they will take on another athletic team in the second round in No. 8 Wilbur Cross (17-6), which beat No. 25 Wethersfield 72-54 on Monday.
“I’ve seen them play,” Yerina said of the SCC semifinalist, “and they go up and down (the court). They’ve got guards who can shoot. It’s a tough matchup.”