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Basketball: Charging ahead – Bulls go into district on roll

By Reece Waddell | Published Saturday, January 13, 2018
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On a Roll

ON A ROLL – Andrew Horton takes a shot during the Bridgeport Bulls’ practice Thursday. The Bulls have won six of their last eight games. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

After getting off to a slow start on the year, the Bridgeport Bulls have begun to turn things around just in time for District 9-4A play.

Bridgeport struggled through the first month of the season, going 3-11 in its first 14 games. Since then, the Bulls are 6-2, and currently sport a record of 9-13. Bridgeport coach Clayton Shipley attributes some of the Bulls’ early season struggles to his team getting a late start.

“Everybody played football – the entire team was in football,” Shipley said. “We were behind the eight ball to start with.”

Bridgeport played Godley in the bi-district round of the playoffs on Nov. 17, forcing Shipley to cancel the Bulls’ first two games.

“I knew that game wasn’t going to benefit us, that we needed to practice,” Shipley said.

Along with his team not having much practice time before the season began, Bridgeport also had to overcome an injury to Colton Waters. Shipley said Waters’ injury allowed him to get some younger players minutes. Now that he’s healthy, the Bulls have much-needed depth on their bench.

“Having our team all together for the first time was a big part [of us winning recently],” said Bridgeport guard Andrew Horton. “In the beginning, we had [Waters] get injured. Just getting back together and having our full team, I think we’re really starting to click now.”

Bridgeport’s leading scorer, Horton is averaging 20.8 points per game this season on 44 percent shooting. Horton is the last remaining player from the Bulls’ 2015 state title team, and is shooting 38 percent from beyond the arc.

“When he gets going, he can hit from anywhere,” Shipley said. “He’s got a special talent of being able to shoot from literally the volleyball line. He’s gone for 40 in a game this year and 37 in a game this year. He can put the ball in at any point in time. He’s always a threat.”

While Horton is averaging 11 points more than Bridgeport’s second leading scorer, he has gotten help from other teammates as of late. In the Bulls’ victory over Fort Worth Country Day last week, Horton and sophomore Drew Carstens combined for 41 of Bridgeport’s 52 points.

Carstens is third on the team in scoring, averaging 8.8 points per game, narrowly trailing Zane Morrow’s nine points a night. Aside from Horton, Carstens and Morrow, no one on the team is averaging more than 3.5 points per game – something that is concerning for Shipley.

“Blaze Ragland and Colton [Waters] know [they have to contribute more], they get it. But now, it’s time to put it together,” Shipley said. “They get that they have to attack more and have to help more offensively. It can’t just be the Andrew and Drew show.”

Bridgeport opened District 9-4A play Friday on the road against Sanger and will then renew their rivalry with Decatur next Tuesday. Last season, the Bulls lost to the Eagles twice by a combined score of 179-77. Bridgeport went 14-20 and 6-4 in district last year, falling in the bi-district round of the playoffs.

As they enter the home stretch of their season, the Bulls are hoping they are starting to mesh at just the right time.

“I definitely feel like we’re coming together,” Carstens said. “I’m just doing my part and everyone else is pitching in.”

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