By MICHAEL LETENDRE
AVON – It’s state tournament time and when it comes to the girls basketball bracket, there are more than a couple hungry teams out on the prowl.
One of those teams is Bristol Central.
The Rams, out of the tournament fray since the 2001-02 campaign, made an immediate splash in the 2013 Class L event and pulled out a tremendous upset in the process.
No. 26 Central defeated No. 7 Avon 52-26 in a first round showdown from Avon High School on Monday, Feb. 25.
The victory put Central back over .500 at 11-10 while Avon, off the power of an outstanding 18-2 regular season mark and a 20-3 overall showing, fell short and finished with one additional lose to close out its campaign.
True, the Falcons were down two starters who were lost in the NCCC Tournament, but Central coach Steve Gaudet wouldn’t hear of such things.
The Rams have lost players for key stretches of not just this season, but others as well, and Gaudet knows better than anyone that you have to play with the hand that’s dealt you.
The Bristol Eastern boys basketball basketball team had to navigate through the state tournament last season without 6-foot-9 center Kris Fuller and even though the Lancers lost its first round game 59-57, all the other players stepped up in the 55-53 loss to North Haven.
Avon needed such an effort but fell flat as the Rams played its usual tight defense to pick up an impressive victory.
On the other side, the Rams played a clean crisp game offensively throughout the 32 minutes of action.
Chandler Walker picked up a double-double, getting a game high 17 points on offense, while Erika Monsalve added 12 points in a big backcourt effort.
Lauren Bossi also tallied double figures in points and rebounds as her 10 points were critical in the game.
Ashley Edler punched through with eight points, Gretchen Edelman sank home a hoop while Christina Bouvier came off the bench and played well in the victorious effort.
Michaela Marcus led Avon with seven points as Central limited the Falcons’ scoring opportunities throughout the showdown.
The highest amount of points Avon was able to muster in a quarter was nine and that came in the fourth and final period when the score was already out of reach.
Central’s offense was fairly consistent during the game save the five-point second quarter effort but the Rams used a big scoring barrage over the third to salt things away.
The Rams opened the game off a 17-8 jaunt and ended up leading by nine points after one period of play.
The second frame was a bit of a stalemate as the teams combined to score 10 total points.
But the Rams held firm and led 22-13 at the halftime break.
In the third tilt, the game quickly became a one-sided affair.
Central zipped in 18 of the 22 total points scored in the frame and quickly, the Rams were feeling confident and were in front 40-17.
With that 23-point lead in hand, Central never let the Falcons back in the game as the Rams wrapped up an impressive 26-point margin – doubling up and overwhelming Avon to secure the win.
The victory propelled the Rams to the second round of the tournament and that meant another road encounter, this time with CCC foe Farmington.
The Indians, ranked 10th in Class L, smoked Middletown 62-46 in the first round and finished the regular season at 16-4 overall.
By MICHAEL LETENDRE