BBA wins one for Jess: Bulldogs play for teammate out after injury

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MANCHESTER — The Burr and Burton Academy girls basketball team had more than basketball on its mind on Thursday night.

They were playing for a teammate, Jessica Finnegan, who suffered a concussion in the Kevin Riell tournament and has been in the hospital ever since.

"Tonight's game for all of us on the team was for Jess," said BBA coach Ed Panzarino. "We wanted to go out there and play our hearts out for her."

The senior, who was watching the game via live stream from the hospital, watched her teammates score a 63-47 win over Hartford, earning their second win of the season.

Taking a 14-7 lead into the second quarter, BBA's offense went to work. The Bulldogs out scored Hartford 17-4 in the quarter to go into the break up 31-11. Senior Tessa Roberts and sophomore Emily Bleakie led the charge for the Bulldogs, scoring combined 12 of BBA's 17 points in the second quarter.

"We all played with everything we had in that game for Jess," said Roberts, one of Finnegan's classmates. "If we were going to win this game, all of us had to step up and I proved that with the start we had in the first half."

In the third quarter, the Bulldogs offense stalled and their defense allowed 19 points in the third quarter, allowing Hartford to take advantage and lower the deficit to 13 heading into the fourth quarter.

"Things got a little dicey there for us in the second half," Panzarino said. "We turned the ball over too much on offense and on defense we kept giving up too many second chance opportunities."

Hartford cut the BBA lead down to nine in the fourth quarter, but that's where the Bulldogs got their act back together, thanks to the play of senior Hannah Nicholson.

The senior captain had 10 points and four rebounds in the fourth quarter, to help BBA secure the victory.

"I know it was the time for me to be more aggressive for my team," Nicholson said. "We needed to jolt our offense back up and I know I could do it."

Nicholson was one of three BBA players who finished in double figures on the night, finishing with 14 points. Roberts had a game-high 17 points, while Bleakie knocked in 16 points.

With the win, BBA improved to 2-2 on the season, but the game meant way more than just a victory for the Bulldogs.

"This win felt so much more then it is because it's for Jess," Panzarino said. "All week, the girls have been beat up about it and to see them come out tonight and play with all the heart and soul they had was a beautiful thing to see."


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