The Bridgeport boys basketball team is one win away from repeating as Western Trails Conference Tournament champions.
The Bulldogs moved back into the final with a 57-40 win over Mitchell in the semifinals on Friday night at Cougar Palace. Bridgeport will take on Gordon-Rushville in Saturday’s championship game at 7:15 p.m.
Bridgeport wasted no time to take a quick 11-point lead over Mitchell after the first quarter. The Bulldogs held the lead the rest of the game.
Despite the quick start, Bridgeport head coach Nick Broz felt his team started the game slowly.
“We didn’t protect the ball very well and we played pretty sluggish,” Broz said. “Mitchell played well and they put us in some tough situations.”
Bridgeport increased its lead to 25-13 at halftime. The two teams traded buckets for most of the third quarter before the Bulldogs settled for a 13-point advantage. Mitchell head coach Jayson Gregory said his squad did a better job on the offensive end in the third quarter.
“We told our guys at halftime that the only way to make a basket is take a shot. The first half we didn’t take hardly any shots and it hurt us badly,” Gregory said. “Once our guys opened up and started actually shooting, it shifted for us a bit.”
Bridgeport outscored the Tigers 16-10 in the final eight minutes to prevail.
Bridgeport received a big scoring boost from senior John Pappas, who had a team-high 15 points. Pappas also felt his team came out a bit slow, but played well enough to win.
“It was a good win for our team, but we started slow,” Pappas said. “We just need to focus and remember to have fun. That’s when we play our best.”
Joining Pappas in the double-figure scoring column was Andrew Nelson with 14 points. Wyatt Pankowski finished with nine.
Joe Pieper led Mitchell offensively with 10 points. Jordan Rhode followed with eight.
Mitchell will face Hemingford in the third-place game Saturday at 3:45 p.m.
Bridgeport (17-2) ......................... 15 10 16 16 — 57
Mitchell (5-14) ............................. 4 9 17 10 — 40
BRIDGEPORT: John Pappas 15, Logan Linch 6, Connor Wiggins 1, Wyatt Pankowski 9, Quentin Baxter 5, Isaias Mancias 5, Andrew Nelson 14.
MITCHELL: Chase Watson 2, Seth Marcoe 3, Joe Pieper 10, Jaden Snyder 6, Dylan Lower 2, Colby Eberspecher 7, Cleveland Burnett 2, Jordan Rhode 8,