BRISTOL – Well, it’s round two of Bristol Central/Bristol Eastern girls hoops and on Monday, February 13, two teams square off at the Thomas M. Monahan Gymnasium with very different agendas.
For the Lancers, it’s a chance for the squad to earn victory number 15 and maintain at least a first round home game in the Class LL state tournament tilt.
For the Rams, it’s truly a chance for the team to score a historic upset – one the program feels is way overdue – and to (almost) end the 2016-17 campaign on a high note.
It’s crunch time in the Bell City and here’s everything you need to know about the contest – weather permitting of course:
Bristol Central at Bristol Eastern
Time and Location: Monday, February 13 at 6:45 p.m. from Bristol Eastern high school (Thomas M. Monahan Gymnasium)
The Series between the squads…The last time Central defeated Eastern was back on February 16, 2004 as the Rams picked up a 60-57 win. In fact, BE has defeated BC twenty-five straight times.
Players to Watch: Bristol Central – Brianna Hamel (sr, guard, 4 points vs. Berlin), Sarah Strilkauskas (sr, guard, 8 points vs. Berlin), Ravan Rodriguez (sr, forward), Ashley Watson (so, forward, 10 points vs. Berlin), Sarah Guerin (jr, guard, 6 points vs. Berlin), Zoe Sinclair (jr, guard), Allison Jessie (so, guard), I’deara Gordon (jr, guard).
Players to Watch: Bristol Eastern – Diana Wnuk (sr, captain, forward, 16 points, 9.2 rebounds-per-game), Miya Laprise (sr, captain, guard, 6.5 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 1.9 assists, 2.1 steals-per-game), Jillian LeBeau (sr, captain, forward, 4.5 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 1.6 spg), Hannah Maghini (jr, guard, 14.7 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 3.3 assists, 2.2 spg), Miranda Janick (jr, guard, 9.1 ppg, 3.2 apg), Meredith Foreman (so, forward, 3.6 ppg, 4.4 rpg), Paige McLaughlin (so, guard, 2.8 ppg).
Bristol Central’s Record: The Rams are 1-17 with a win over Maloney, 41-30 and a game left against Plainville this Wednesday.
Bristol Eastern’s Record: The Lancers are 14-5 overall and the 2016-17 CCC South, Blue Division champs.
A quick look at Bristol Central: Why could the Central girls basketball team defeat Bristol Eastern?
Well, you just never know. Perhaps Central holds the ball for one shot and wins, 2-0
But in all seriousness, this is a tough one as the game commences with Eastern’s own senior night festivities.
That’s a big emotional lift for the Lancers right off the bat.
However, the Rams have nothing to lose and why not try some gimmick defenses, throwing a wrench at the Eastern offense?
As stated in the past, injuries have hurt Central’s team as the squad had a goal of qualifying for state tournament play to begin the year.
Two Hamel sisters on the floor is a tough order, especially defensively, but with Meghan out, this contest gets even more difficult.
Eastern will once again release its suffocating full-court pressing game and Central must advance the ball up the floor A.S.A.P.
And again, Sarah Strilkauskas, Sarah Guerin, Sarah Strilkauskas will join up with Brianna Hamel and must all go for career high games.
Ashley Watson can also board, hit open jumpers and must be watched by Eastern’s defense.
Since the beginning of 2017, the most points the squad has scored in a game is thirty-eight and Central must net 50-plus to hang around in this one.
Lastly, the queen of England should confer knighthood upon Central head coach Steve Gaudet because this guy keeps coming back for more, game after game against Eastern – without winning the big prize.
However, Gaudet knows the girls basketball team at Bristol Central is a conduit for fall scholastic athletes to get to the spring season.
That makes it all the more difficult for the Rams.
A quick look at Bristol Eastern: Pick an area of the game that Eastern won’t dominate over Central on Monday.
Bluntly, it may not exist.
Eastern has an extremely tough starting five that have been together for most of the campaign.
Only guard Hannah Maghini – who was out of two contests – missed any time in the starting rotation.
That experience has paid dividends with an extremely good season of 14 wins and five losses that all could have been wins with the biggest defeat by no more than ten points.
Those starters have combined for 937 total points and are a very versatile bunch.
When you put the unit of Diana Wnuk, Jillian LeBeau, and Miya Laprise together at forward, each player brings something different to the table.
Wnuk is good for a double-double almost every night and LeBeau is a tough rebounder who has an underestimated passing game.
And Laprise does something well in every offensive and defensive category and that’s a difficult grouping to contend with.
In the backcourt, Maghini is the best three-point shooter in Eastern program history, can rebound and dish out the rock while Janick – once she sets her feet – also has long-range shooting capabilities and is a pest defensively.
That unit can run up and down the court and its strength is in its transition game.
If Eastern makes early hoops against Central, that defense becomes a full-court trapping combination of doom and demise.
Getting a big lead early would also allow Eastern coach Tony Floyd to go to his bench early – resting his starters for the up-coming CCC Tournament.
This team is motivated, playing for each other and wants to honor its senior core of Laprise, LeBeau, and Wnuk as each captain is playing in her final scholastic regular season home game.
X-Factor – Central: For Central, let’s see how sophomore Ashley Watson can do against the Lancers.
She’s a talented front-court player who could be a double-double machine for the Rams for years to come.
It’s going to take more than one player to win this but let’s see if Watson can cause some damage in and around the paint.
X-Factor – Eastern: For Eastern, the squad has two outstanding sixth-men.
Sophomores, forward Meredith Foreman and guard Paige McLaughlin were excellent in the first contest against Central and the same is expected one more time.
They combined for 19 points, hit 8-of-10 field goals, and captured six rebounds at Central.
The duo has been getting the job done all season long and it’s time for one more game of that solid play before the postseason arrives.
And the winner is…Eastern wins the contest by a 61-33 final from the Thomas M. Monahan Gymnasium.