By MICHAEL LETENDRE
BRISTOL – The Bristol Eastern and New Britain girls basketball squads waged an epic war from the Thomas M. Monahan Gymnasium on Monday, Jan. 23 that required two overtime periods to declare the final winner
And in the end, the Lancers were the victors as Eastern forward Jillian LeBeau canned two free throws with 1.5 seconds left, propelling the home squad to an 80-78 victory to stave off a good Golden Hurricanes squad.
Bristol Eastern’s Hannah Maghini dropped in a school record seven three-pointers and established a new career high of 29 points to go along with eight rebounds, five assists and two steals before falling due to injury.
Diana Wnuk added 23 points, hitting several clutch free throws, and scooped up eight rebounds and rejected two shots.
LeBeau snared 10 rebounds among the trees and went for seven points while Miya Laprise put together a nice line of 12 points, four rebounds and two assists.
Miranda Janick added seven points, three rebounds, and two assists, Meredith Foreman snared three rebounds while Paige McLaughlin collected two points, seven rebounds and dished out three assists over the winning endeavor.
It was Eastern’s 11th win of the campaign while the Golden Hurricanes fell to 7-6 overall.
New Britain rebounded the heck out of the ball as the bigger squad nabbed 70 totals rebounds with 30 of those coming via the offensive glass.
Gabriella Roy jammed in a game-high 30 points, hitting four three-pointers, while also garnering 11 rebounds; Dejia Santana flipped in 19 points and grabbed 19 rebounds while Jamyra Irizarry added 14 for the losing outfit.
This contest was a physically draining affair that saw 14 lead changes, 15 ties as New Britain squander a double-figure lead before things were all said and done.
New Britain led 13-4 after one period of play and eventually stretched out to 10, at 25-15, thanks in part to an 8-0 surge by the visitors with just seconds remaining in the first half.
But Janick found Laprise for a three-pointer with three seconds before intermission as Eastern trailed by just a 25-18 push at the break.
The deficit was stretched out to eight at 33-25 midway through the third before the Lancers used an 8-0 dash – highlighted by threes from Janick and Maghini – to see Eastern draw even at 33-33 with less than four minutes to go in the stanza.
And when McLaughlin found Laprise for her final three of the game, Eastern was on top by three and even as New Britain was threatening, the Lancers were in charge 40-39 with eight minutes to play in regulation.
The fourth frame was an amazing assortment of three-point bombs by Maghini as she canned 14 of the squad’s first 16 points of the tilt.
Maghini hit three after three and when she coolly blasted her fourth and final three of the fourth period, the junior captured the school record for 3’s in a game and gave Eastern a 56-52 edge with around 4:30 to go in regulation.
A 7-1 run by New Britain saw the squad re-take the lead but Wnuk hit four straight charity tosses, Roy canned two of her own to end regulation and when Maghini missed a stutter-step, Larry Bird like three-point attempt, overtime number one was needed.
Neither squad led by more than two points in the first extra session but the Lancers did not hit a field goal during that four minutes of play.
Instead, Eastern drilled seven-of-eight foul shots but when Santana put back a miss with four seconds left, the game was re-tied again, this time at 73-73, and yes, more overtime was needed.
New Britain held a 74-72 edge with 2:17 left in the frame before Wnuk and McLaughlin canned consecutive free throws to post Eastern to a two-point edge.
Tied at 76-76, Maghini put in a floater but ended up injured on the play and when Roy again nailed two clutch free throws with nine seconds remaining, the game was all knotted up for the last time, 78-78.
With just seconds left on the clock, McLaughlin took a lay-up that missed and on the scrum, LeBeau was whacked trying to get the rebound and with 1.5 seconds to play, and was awarded two free throws.
The senior calmly netted both attempts to win the game as Eastern held on to sweep New Britain, this time getting a tremendous two-point win, 80-78.
And then the following Thursday, Eastern made it six in a row, and nine of eleven, as the Lancers downed Plainville 49-40 from the Ivan Wood Gymnasium.
Wnuk canned a game-high 25 points to go along with nine rebounds and three steals while Janick netted 14 points, four rebounds and three steals.
Laprise added two points, four rebounds, game-high six assists, two blocks and two steals, LeBeau nailed down seven rebounds, two assists and three blocked shots, Foreman earned her first start and added four rebounds and dished out two assists and McLaughlin chipped in five points, four rebounds and three steals.