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OCC wins, loses Bunting

Women’s Basketball

Pirates' freshman point guard likely sidelined for season with what is believed to be a fractured ankle.

December 15, 2012|By Barry Faulkner
  • OCC's Caitlin Bunting holds her ankle in pain during the second half against Saddleback in the Coast Christmas Classic on Saturday.
OCC's Caitlin Bunting holds her ankle in pain during… (KEVIN CHANG, Daily…)

COSTA MESA — Caitlin Bunting played four somewhat unsung seasons on the Villa Park High varsity girls' basketball team and was recruited by a handful of community college coaches before electing to join Coach Mike Thornton this season at Orange Coast College.

Just nine games into a season that was just beginning to show some promise, it appears Bunting will now watch from the sideline after a falling hard to the floor in the backcourt with 1:37 left in the Pirates' 51-42 victory over Saddleback on Saturday at OCC.

Bunting's injury, which Thornton later said the training staff was almost sure was a fractured right ankle, put a damper on the hard-fought triumph in the semifinals of the Erin Tomlinson Coast Christmas Classic. The win allowed the Pirates (5-4 after an 0-3 start) to surpass the .500 mark for the first time all season and advance to Sunday's 4 p.m. title game against College of the Canyons.

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But while a fracture appears to have denied OCC the services of its savvy and scrappy starting point guard, it was clear that the bond Bunting had forged with her teammates, to whom she delivered 11 assists in two tournament wins Friday and Saturday, was as steadfast as the 5-foot-5 freshman's determination.

While being administered to on a training table about 10 yards behind both benches, Bunting, who sobbed uncontrollably against the pain and, perhaps, the reality that her season was over, received well-wishes from her teammates and competitors alike.

OCC leading scorer Dayanara Armenta leaned in to share a hug as the girls spoke softly to one another, their faces adjacent and their hands cupped against the backs of one another's heads.

After OCC players left the floor and retreated to their locker room, Thornton instructed them to all make another trip into the gym to tell Bunting they loved her, before she was taken away by emergency medical personnel.

"I just feel really badly for [Bunting]," said a somber Thornton after a game that featured woeful shooting by both teams and little aesthetic appeal. "She's a kid who was always in the shadow of other people in high school, but we thought she did some really good things, which is why we recruited her. She's not quick, but she's pretty basketball-smart and that's one of the things that we lacked last year. [Basketball IQ] was one of our big priorities in recruiting for this season, so we were real happy to get her.

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