By MICHAEL LETENDRE
BRISTOL – The junior varsity boys hoop program at Bristol Central has been a pretty solid unit this season and losing has not been part of the lesson plan.
And against Bristol Eastern on Monday, Feb. 23, the Rams kept up their winning ways with a big 64-48 victory from the Charles C. Marsh Gymnasium.
Once again – just like in the freshmen contest – Jaekwon Spencer was the man of the evening.
Spencer dropped in 23 of his game high 27 points over the final three quarters of action to lead the Rams to victory.
Also for Central, Jalen Benoit looked poised, focused and was a leader on the court as he notched 13 of his 14 points over the first 12 minutes of play.
Tyshawn Rodriguez added eight points; Isaiah Miller banged in two threes for six points; while A.J. Pahl and Aaron Collins each scored a three over the winning effort.
For Eastern, Nate Hickey played well in collecting 18 points – canning 11 free throws – while nabbing four rebounds and making five steals in the losing effort.
Freshmen Tyler Arbuckle also hit his share of shots, taking 12 attempts from the field, and hitting half his field goals on his way to 17 points to go along with three rebounds, three assists, and three steals.
Tyler Tefoe added four points and four rebounds; Jake Violette had four points and four rebounds as well; while Riley Mason slipped in four points off the bench.
Central shot the ball well, hitting 23-of-52 attempts (44.2-percent) while canning seven threes, out-rebounding Eastern 37-26; and dished out an impressive 19 assists.
But the contest was a back-and-forth affair early as both squads grabbed a share of the lead.
The Rams racked up a 7-2 edge off a 3 from Benoit but the Lancers went on a 6-0 run – off a 3 from Hickey, a free throw from Arbuckle and two charity tosses by Tefore – as Eastern was in front 8-7 with 4:42 left to go in the first period.
A three from both Collins and Benoit kept the Eastern edge from extending and off a late free throw from Kareem Davis to end the period, Central led 18-15 after one frame.
Spencer opened the second stanza up with a dunk and when A.J. Pahl canned a three-pointer; Central was in change by a 23-15 push with 7:05 remaining before the half.
The Rams eventually stretched the lead out to 31-19 before the Lancers cut the thing to a two possession ball-game.
Violette hit a hoop while Hickey drilled two free throws and added a lay-up and with 1:55 left before intermission. Eastern trailed by just a 31-25 score.
But a last second put-back by Benoit propelled Central to a 39-29 tilt at the halftime break.
Arbuckle canned a three to keep Eastern hanging around at 42-34 with 6:29 to go in the third before the Rams scooped up a double-digit lead for good.
Another trifecta by Arbuckle didn’t allow Central to run up the score but off two charity tosses from Spencer and a three at the buzzer Miller, the home team nabbed a sizable 55-38 push with eight minutes to go.
Hickey canned four free throws and Arbuckle found Mason for a quick hoop but with 3:11 left to play, the 60-44 deficit the Lancers were dealing with would be too much to overcome.
Spencer had a dunk late in the game; Tom Gonzales and Davis exchanged free throws. In the end, Central won for one last time, toppling Eastern by a 64-48 final.
Comments? Email mletendre@BristolObserver.com.
By MICHAEL LETENDRE