By MICHAEL LETENDRE
BRISTOL – The Bristol Eastern girls basketball team is going to have its ups and downs during the 2012-13 campaign.
And while its first contest of the season didn’t go exactly according to plan, the Lancers showed a couple glimpses of what could be.
But against a very good Glastonbury club, Eastern seemed snake-bitten from the start as the Lancers lost its season opener as the Tomahawks picked up a 51-25 win from the Thomas M. Monahan Gymnasium in Bristol on Wednesday, Dec. 5 in a CCC Interdivisional affair.
It was the opening contest for both teams as Glastonbury looked crisp from start to finish.
Courtney Latham, who will be attending Boston University next season, scored 15 points for the Tomahawks as did Ashley Mulryan.
The squad rained down early three-pointers on Eastern and simply overwhelmed the young Lancers with quick defensive rotations, even quicker shots and did not allow the Lancers to get into any kind of comfort zone or offensive flow.
And while Eastern played well in spurts, the Lancers simply couldn’t put any lasting momentum together.
“I think (we played well) for a quarter-and-a-half tonight and that’s not going to win games against a good team,” said Eastern coach Tony Floyd. “Glastonbury is a good quality team and is more experienced than us. And our inexperience sort of hurt us a little bit out there.”
Karissa Smith was her typical self and paced Eastern with 12 points, 11 rebounds, two blocked shots, and a steal but was forced into several tough field goals as Glastonbury’s defense marked her early and often.
But to Smith’s credit, she drilled 6-of-11 shots – making strong moves to the hoop – and played her usual brand of tough defense.
“Karissa, with her intensity level, did a great job keeping us in the game on the boards and with put-backs,” said Floyd of Smith. “She was a fearless fighter inside the paint.”
Daijia Brooks scored five points, corralled nine rebounds, blocked three shots, and snatched two steals, showing the complete game the sophomore could repeat several times this year.
Amanda Zdun added four points and five rebounds, while drilling a three-pointer for Eastern in the losing effort.
“Amanda did a greta job defensively up front,” said Floyd. “Amanda and Karissa were consistent the whole game.”
Cassie Aiken (two assists) and Mia Farias started the game while Erin Stephens, Saige Ryan, Jamella Shoultz, Kristy Lescrynski, Nikki Hammer, and Sonja Stokes all saw action for the Lancers.
“We didn’t find five, six, or seven people who could could keep up the intensity level to try to match Glastonbury,” said Floyd. “If we can start doing that, we’re going to be fine the whole game.”
Eastern played without the services of 6-foot-3 center Cheyenne Orsi, who suffered a concussion early in preseason action.
Without Orsi – plus Aiken, Eastern’s point guard who got into quick foul trouble – the Lancers were in a quick hole on both sides of the ball as Glastonbury’s offense hit the mark early and often while committing only four first-half turnovers.
“I thought our execution was very poor,” said Floyd. “Not making hard cuts…fundamental stuff we’ve got to better at. I think once we get better with that stuff, we’re going to be fine.”
The Lancers trailed 13-6 after one period while absorbing a 28-15 deficit going into the half.
Glastonbury padded its lead in the third frame and seized a 39-20 edge while the Tomahawks led 47-21 late before settling on the 51-26 victory.
It all wasn’t bad, however.
Eastern hung tough early as Aiken found Smith for a lay-up as the Lancers trailed 3-2 just 1:46 into things.
Down seven midway through the frame, Smith snatched an offensive rebound and put in it as Eastern trailed 9-4 with 2:59 left in first period.
But the Lancers went over five minutes without scoring as a manageable 13-6 deficit became a 24-6 hole – via an 11-0 push – as Eastern trailed by 18 with 3:31 left in the half.
The Lancers responded with a 5-0 run of its own as a free throw from Zdun, a hoop by Smith, and a steal and lay-in by Brooks cut the score to 24-11 with 2:25 left in the second period.
One last floater by Shoultz kept the deficit at 13 as Eastern trailed 28-15 at the half.
Glastonbury opened the third tilt off an 11-3 spurt and that deficit became a 39-18 hole and Eastern was clearly behind the eight-ball.
Down 19 points starting the fourth frame, the Lancers struggled to put points on the board but with 6:16 remaining in the contest, Olivia Still hit a quick lay-up for the Tomahawks as the visitors pushed its advantage to 47-21.
There would be no comeback bid as Eastern dropped a tough 26-point decision.
“We just didn’t rise to the occasion,” said Floyd. “Hopefully, this will be a great learning experience for these guys. I think we’ll be okay. We just need to come up with the intensity level.”
NOTES…Two days later in Hartford, the Lancers blasted Bulkeley 68-25 as Eastern won its first contest of the season. Karissa Smith netted 22 points and grabbed 14 rebounds while Daijia Brooks went for a career high 20 points and snatched eight rebounds. Jamella Shoultz added a season best 15 points in the winning effort.
By MICHAEL LETENDRE