By MICHAEL LETENDRE
BRISTOL – The Bristol Eastern boys basketball team mounted a furious fourth period comeback against Hall on Tuesday, Febr. 14 – nearly erasing a 12-point deficit – but in the end, the Lancers fell 68-59 in a CCC Interdivisional game from the Thomas M. Monahan Gymnasium in Bristol.
With the win, Hall evened its record to 9-9 while Eastern fell to 5-11.
The Warriors did an excellent job moving the ball around the court, finding the right shooters at the right time to throw points up on the board in a contest the Lancers were in until the very end.
“I was a little upset about our pressure,” said Eastern coach Bunty Ray. “Our pressure assignments were off. Guys weren’t working hard in our pressure. Because we blew assignments, we left guys open, we didn’t get enough ball pressure so they were able to reverse the ball and we didn’t rotate fast enough.”
Eastern led for 16 seconds early in the first period as sharpshooter Rod Jenkins (game-high 27, four rebounds, six assists, three steals) hit a lay-up to make it a 4-3 game with 5:10 left.
But once Megel Hudson (14 points) drained his second 3 of the evening, Hall retook the lead and never looked back.
The Warriors had an excellent inside-out attack and when big man Dan Brocke (24 points) wasn’t hitting lay-ups, short jumpers, or sinking free throws, the ball went back outside to the marksmen around the three-point line as the outfit canned seven threes and made 19-of-28 charity shots.
“I didn’t have a defense for that team,” said Ray. “Hall had a big man and they had shooters. When we doubled down on the big, the shooters killed us. When we went out to the shooters, the big man killed us. That’s a pretty complete offense.”
Hall canned three three-pointers over the first period of play and when Michael Verrengia dropped in his first trifecta of the encounter, the visitors led 20-11 after eight minutes of work.
But Eastern remained pesky and when Nate Silva (career high nine points, three three-pointers) canned his first triple of the showdown, the 7-0 run got the Lancers to 20-18 with 6:38 left to play in the half.
However, the Warriors extended the lead out to eight again and when Brocke hit a short field goal to end the half, the visitors led 30-24 going into the break.
Eastern remained pesky as Hall did not have much luck slowing down Jenkins to open the third as he hit the Lancers’ first 10 points of the frame and when Silva banged in another 3, the game was a 38-37 contest with 1:21 in the tilt as the Warriors were just hanging on to the lead.
Jenkins hit a buzzer beating 3 to end the third but Eastern still trailed 43-40 going into the final eight minutes of play.
And over the first 2:50 of the fourth period, Hall went on a 13-4 blitz as Verrengia canned three 3-pointers in the run – a couple from NBA range – as the Warriors seized a 56-44 cushion with 5:10 left to play.
But Eastern countered with a 10-1 dash as Jake Violette canned a 3, Carter Dziedzic notched four of his eight fourth quarter points in the run and when Tyler Mason connected on a three of his own, it was a one-possession contest at 57-54 with 2:17 to go.
“It was a chess match,” said Ray. “I thought that [Hall coach Bryan Moretti] going to the zone, we talked about not just firing up threes to get out of it although you need to hit a few and Silva actually hit a couple and Jake hit one there. But you’ve got to get easy baskets. Hall got easy baskets against our zone [but] we actually answered.”
“We missed a couple critical lay-ups at the wrong time that really would have put us in a good position.”
A floater by Dziedzic with 1:32 left made it a 59-56 contest but Brocke rebounded several misses, Eastern couldn’t find the bottom of the rim and the Lancers resorted to late game fouls to try to get back in it.
But Hall canned 7-of-8 free throws to ice the contest as the visitors rolled up a huge 68-59 win on the road.
“Down the stretch with under two minutes, you have to force our defense and they were able to spread us out a little bit,” said Ray. “But all in all, a shot here, a free throw there and it’s an interesting game. We didn’t make the shots and Hall did.”
HALL 68, BRISTOL EASTERN 59
from the Thomas M. Monahan Gymnasium, Bristol
Hall (9-9) 20 10 13 25 – 68
Bristol Eastern (5-11) 11 13 16 19 – 59
HALL (68): Megel Hudson 2 8 14, Matty Berson 0 0 0, Tyrek Robinson 0 0 0, James DeChrisantis 6 2 19, Max Boyd 1 1 3, Michael Verrengia 2 2 6, Daniel Brocke 9 6 24, Ricquon Tyson 1 0 2. Totals: 21 19 68.
BRISTOL EASTERN (59): Tyler Mason 1 0 3, Rod Jenkins 9 8 27, Jake Violette 1 0 3, Tom Gonzales 2 3 7, Nate Silva 3 0 9, Rajon Collins 0 0 0, Carter Dziedzic 5 0 10, Justin Blake 0 0 0. Totals: 21 11 59.
Three-point goals: DeChrisantis (H) 5, Hudson (H) 2, Silva (BE) 3, Mason (BE), Jenkins (BE), Violette (BE).
Records: Hall 9-9 overall; Bristol Eastern 5-11