STRATFORD — While the first half of the season was forgettable for the Bunnell boys basketball team, as of late the Bulldogs’ stock seems to be rising.

And while two straight wins is nice, the third — a 55-53 come-from-behind victory over Brookfield Friday night at home — is definitive proof that Bunnell has turned a corner in 2018.

“We didn’t play a great game,” said Bulldogs coach Pat Yerina, whose team started the season 2-7. “But we did it with pressure on some guys at the free-throw line. Josh (Giannoni) hit four and then Max (Edwards) hit the last two after he had a great steal on the sideline to set it up. We’ll take it; we got some work to do but that put us back into the hunt a little bit.”

After trailing for the entire contest, two free throws from Giannoni put Bunnell (5-7) within two points with 1:40 to play.

A minute later, Giannoni (nine points) drained another two free throws, tying the score at 53.

Content to play for the last shot, Brookfield passed the ball around the perimeter, but a steal from Maximus Edwards led to a Bobcats foul — setting himself up to be the hero with six seconds left.

“I was nervous,” said Edwards, a sophomore, of stepping up to the stripe with a chance to give his team the lead. “I didn’t think I was going to make them, but my teammates just told me to take my time and I did and they went in.”

Brookfield (8-5) started the game hot from behind the arc, with Connor Gruda (18 points) and David Walker (11) combining for seven triples in the first half.

The Bobcats would go without a 3 in the second half, mostly due to taking their foot off the gas in an attempt to drain clock.

“We got too conservative,” Brookfield coach John Fleming said. “We decided not to attack the basket anymore and they were aggressive and you can’t hold on to the ball against a good team like that without turning it over. So, that was our big problem there and then we couldn’t hit any foul shots.”

PLAYER OF THE GAME

Edwards, Bunnell. The super sophomore was held in check for a large part of the night, but when it mattered Edwards came up with a key steal and two free throws to give his team the win.

“When we started 2-7 it was rough,” Edwards said. “Practices were rough. Then we got that first W after the losing streak and we just gained chemistry and started working as a team.”

SWITCHING IT UP

After the man defense of the Bulldogs got shredded early on, Bunnell switched to a zone in the second half—leading to more turnovers and the eventual victory.

“The 1-2-2 (zone) was the difference,” Edwards said. “The man wasn’t working so that started working in the second half; we played good defense tonight in the second half.”

QUOTABLE

“It’s a tough loss,” Fleming said. “But, it’s a team that didn’t really play a lot of varsity last year so we haven’t really been in a lot of tight games like this — so some growing pains; we’ll just keep going forward. You never want to lose a game like that but we’re 8-5 overall, we’ve made states, we’re 4-2 in the conference. This is when you become a team, when there’s adversity you have to bond together.”

aparelli@bcnnew.com @reportedbytheAP

BUNNELL 55, BROOKFIELD 53

BROOKFIELD (8-5)

Cam Gleichauf 7 2-3 16; Connor Gruda 7 0-0 18; Joe Brown 4 0-0 8; David Walker 4 0-4 11; Jaichi Levi 0 0-0 0. Totals: 22 2-7 55.

BUNNELL (5-7)

Khalid Moreland 6 2-4 16; Maximus Edwards 5 5-7 15; Elijah Alexandre 4 2-2 11; Derrick Gyimah 2 0-0 4; Josh Giannoni 2 5-6 9. Totals: 19 14-19 55.

BROOKFIELD 20 13 12 8—53

BUNNELL16 7 15 17—55

3-pointers: BR—Gruda 4, Walker 3; BU—Moreland 2, Alexandre.