by MICHAEL LETENDRE
BRISTOL – A little home cooking never hurts in the rivalry between the Bristol Central and Eastern girls basketball teams and this time around – from the confines of the Thomas M. Monahan Gymnasium on the Eastern campus – the Lancers were in friendly territory.
But the Rams were pesky over the first eight minutes of the game and gave Eastern plenty of fits before the Lancers simply overwhelmed Central on both sides of the ball.
In the end, a hot shooting Lancers’ squad picked off the Central by a 77-36 final in Bristol to move to 5-8 on the campaign.
The Rams, with the loss, fell to 1-10 as Eastern went on several runs to turn a close affair into a rout.
“They didn’t miss,” said Central coach Steve Gaudet of Eastern. “They didn’t miss all night long. I’ve never seen a team in this gym shoot that well in my entire life. They did not miss. Give them all the credit.”
“They killed us on the boards so when they did miss, they got a second opportunity.”
Eastern had balanced scoring up and down the line-up as 13 different players were able to notch points for the home squad.
Jamilla Shoultz put together a whale of a game as she dumped in 14 points, 11 rebounds, and six steals while fellow starter Gianna D’Amato hit for 10 points, eight rebounds, four assists, and added two steals in an all-around impressive effort.
Hannah Maghini is starting to come into her own as well, dropping in 11 points, four rebounds and two assists while Miya Laprise added nine points and three rebounds in the wining effort.
Anna Kelley started the contest and came away with six points and two rebounds while slick guard Miranda Janick hit two three-pointers for six points.
Meredith Forman came off the pine for five points and three rebounds, Paige McLaughlin nabbed three points, three rebounds and dished out two assists while Cheyenne Sargent had three points and an assist.
Cassie Doyon added a hoop and four rebounds, Maura McGuire slipped in two points and three rebounds, while Julia Tice hit a late basket to pace the Eastern attack.
Over half of the Lancers baskets were assisted on as players found each other for quick looks, second chance points and high percentage hoops.
Eastern out-rebounded Central 52-41 while the Lancers forced the Rams into 28 turnovers.
“We’re starting to do a better job filling lanes,” said Eastern coach Tony Floyd. “And we were able to hit the boards too. We got some turnovers in transition, we got a couple steals, we got in the passing lanes. The kids did a really good job.”
Central never quit and certainly had more than a couple notable performances.
Allie Martel notched all 15 of her points in the second half while Brianna Hamel was a pest on the court the entire night, scoring six points and playing great defense before fouling out.
And Megan Hamel, the Rams’ feisty point guard, battled all evening long and came away with three points and several floor burns against an aggressive Eastern onslaught.
“I mean, they work hard,” said Gaudet of the Hamels. “Martel is a coach’s dream. You can’t ask for a better kid and the Hamels work hard.”
Four lead changes highlighted a back and forth affair early on and when Martel found Ashley Watson (six points) for a lay-up, Central led 8-7 with 2:52 left to go in the first frame.
But Janick and Maghini canned back-to-back three’s late and when Forman ended the first stanza with a charity toss, Eastern led 17-12 after one.
Watson made an early offensive rebound and put-back with 5:37 left to go in the first half as Central kept it a two possession game before the Lancers made a late run to make it a sizable halftime deficit.
Eastern canned 12 straight points and later, a steal and hoop by Diana Wnuk (four points, four rebounds) gave the home squad a 20-point edge with 1:17 to play before a Maghini 3 ended the half and propelled the Lancers to a 39-17 push at intermission.
“The kids did a good job attacking in the beginning and then we made an adjustment and then kids were able to get some turnovers and get some rebounds,” said Floyd. “Central shot pretty cold today. They didn’t shoot very well from the field in the second quarter. I think that hurt them in the second and third quarter.”
To open the third tilt, Martel notched seven straight points for the Rams before another Eastern run – this time a blazing 20-2 push that was capped by another hoop from Forman – propelled the Lancers to a commanding 65-26 lead with 7:12 left to go in the game.
“We were able to get some runs in,” said Floyd. “Then we locked down and played some good defense. I’ve got some great help from my bench, the younger kids did a super job. They executed, they played some good defense and I’m very pleased about that.”
Eastern had its bench in for the entire fourth period but Central continued to attack as Martel remained aggressive.
She was eventually pulled with about two minutes left to play and 15 points in hand.
McLaughlin zipped in three straight points late and when Tice banked in her hoop with under a minute to go, the game was all but over for the Lancers.
In the end, it was a 41-point game the Rams would never come back from.
“We’ve got to keep working and get better,” said Gaudet. “But Eastern shot the lights out, we didn’t tonight, that’s for damn sure.”
While the Lancers bounced back from a tough start to the season against some powerhouses, the squad is only two games away from state tournament qualification.
“We’re young but little by little every week, we’re getting better and better and that’s the big thing right now,” said Floyd.
Comments? Email mletendre@BristolObserver.com.