Rams slip past Blue Devils

Lauren Bossi of Bristol Central leaps up for the ball against Plainville’s Kelly Slabinski in last Friday’s home game.

BRISTOL – The Plainville girls basketball team entered the final eight minutes of its showdown with Bristol Central trailing 30-23 but still had a chance at getting its first win of the campaign.
However, the visitors proceeded to score only two total points in the final frame of action as the Rams came away with a 31-25 victory in CCC South action from Bristol.
It was Central’s first game of the season (1-0) while the Blue Devils fell to 0-2 on the young season.
Plainville (0-2) had chances in the contest but poor shooting, turnovers, and missed opportunities had the visitors stuck in neutral.
But off a very good first quarter effort – in which Plainville scored 16 points and had its offense flowing – those easy baskets went away when the Rams switched to a zone defense.
That defense kept blue chippers like Kelsey Clemens and Kathy Dressel – Plainville’s inside options that combined for 20 points – away from the hoop as the Blue Devils scored only nine total points over the final 24 minutes of action.
“Today, we didn’t hit from the outside when they went to the zone,” said Plainville coach Jen Micowski. “We missed some chippy shots in the paint and that’s what you have to do (to win the game). You have to make (Central) come out of their defense that they’re comfortable in. And we let them stay in that zone defense way too long.”
In fact, the Blue Devils went for long stretches in the game without a field goal. But despite all the turnovers, missed shots, and foiled opportunities, Plainville still hung around and had chances all the way to the final horn to win the contest.
Credit belongs to Central as it truly wouldn’t have won this kind of game one or two years ago and when everything went haywire for the Rams’ offense against Plainville, its defense picked them up.
And don’t forget: The Rams only scored a single point in the fourth period of play and still found a way to win the game.
“Even after all our turnovers, our missed free throws, bad decisions, whatever it was, they still came back defensively,” said Central coach Steve Gaudet of his team. “We buckled down, got some steals, Chandler (Walker) blocked some shots… we did the little things on defense that we weren’t doing on offense.”
And when Walker was on the floor and not in foul trouble, she was near brilliant as she zipped in lay-up after lay-up early in the contest.
Walker picked her spots in the Rams’ offense and when she found herself in the paint, her mates made sure the talented junior received the ball.
“She’s going to be the key to our season,” said Gaudet of Walker. “We can’t get her in foul trouble. Though everyone (on this team) has improved, we still got a big horse in the middle we have to feed. We’ve got to get her the ball, we have to run plays through her, and for the first few minutes of the first quarter before she got in foul trouble, she was looking pretty good.”
“We got the ball inside, she made some strong moves and we did some good things.”
Clemens was a beast early, hitting shots from inside and out, as her nine first period points fueled the Blue Devils early.
But off a lay-up from Gretchen Edelman, the Blue Devils’ edge was cut to 11-10 with 1:28 remaining in the first frame.
Clemens scored the game’s next five points as Plainville held its biggest advantage of the night at 16-10 with 44 seconds left in the stanza.
But an offensive rebound and put-back by Christina Bouvier (two points, five rebounds) ended the quarter scoring as Central trailed 16-12 just eight minutes into things.
The basket by Bouvier was huge as it triggered an 8-0 push by Central as two free throws from Lauren Bossi made it an 18-16 contest in the Rams’ favor with 6:01 left before the half.
“When Walker was out, Christina Bouvier stepped up big,” said Gaudet. “She came off the bench, got us a big hoop, got a bunch of rebounds for us…she just gave us huge minutes in Chandler’s absence.”
Plainville went through a stretch of 5:45 without a point before a free throw by Stephanie Martino chopped the deficit to 18-17 with 2:59 left before intermission.
The teams traded free throws over the final minutes before Central settled on a 19-18 halftime push.
Both squad’s shooting percentages didn’t get any better in the third period. But Walker landed three quick hoops – one off a slick on-the-floor feed by Erika Monsalve – as the Rams picked up its biggest lead of the game at 30-21 with 1:25 left in the third quarter.
But over the final 9:25 of the game, Central did not connect on another field goal and the only offense the team could muster was via a Walker foul shot with 7.7 seconds left to play.
Plainville ended the third stanza off two Clemens free throws as the visitors trailed 30-23 going into the final quarter of action.
Plainville cut the deficit to five early in the fourth as Clemens made a slick little feed to Dressel as the visitors dropped the deficit to 30-25 with 6:35 remaining to play.
From there, both teams missed shots as turnovers began to play a role in the game.
Late in the fray, Central had three consecutive 1-and-1 opportunities from the free throw line to pad its lead, but missed each and every charity shot to give Plainville second and third chances at chopping down the lead.
“To panic a little down in the end there, to make poor decisions (late in the game), that’s what disappointed me,” said Gaudet. “I thought we were stronger-willed, thought we had a little more leadership, but hopefully that will come as the season goes along.”
Clemens, Deja Nolan, and Carly Martino missed shots late to attempt a comeback bid for Plainville. But off one final free throw by Walker, Central held on to win it by a 31-25 final.
“We can’t let these first two games defeat us,” said Micowski. “We can’t hang our head because it’s a long season. It’s 20 games and we’re just getting started with what we can do.”
For Central, it was a grueling 32 minute affair that ultimately fell in the Rams’ favor.
“A win’s a win,” said Gaudet. “It’s an ugly win but to (win) a league game right off the bat, start off the season with a ‘W’ and play poorly in doing that, it’s a testament to these girls. They didn’t give in.”