By MICHAEL LETENDRE
ENFIELD – The girls basketball squad from Bristol Eastern ending up winning 17 games in the grueling Central Connecticut Conference, South – Blue Division – which is certainly not easily accomplished.
In fact, the Lancers didn’t have a game during the regular season in which they lost a contest by more than 10 points.
And in those five regular season losses, any one of those setbacks could have been reversed by an extra basket or two.
That’s a credit to the entire Eastern team.
At 17-7 overall, the Lancers (12-2 in CCC South Blue Division play) were two games better than Newington (10-4), Wethersfield (9-5), and New Britain (8-6) in CCC South Blue action.
For Eastern, its core of three seniors strong – Captains Miya Laprise, Jillian LeBeau and Diana Wnuk – did a tremendous job leading the outfit this year.
Those athletes all played a huge role in the Lancers’ super season.
But a strong junior class also prepared Eastern well as the duo of Hannah Maghini and Mandi Janick will be in similar roles next season, ready to go as senior leaders.
“Hannah Maghini and Mandi Janick have done a great job as juniors this year,” said Eastern head coach Tony Floyd. “They came a long way from last year. And hopefully, they can build on this and they got some confidence [and] they’ve got some experience this year. Hopefully that carries on [to] next year and they work in the offseason and get themselves to another level which I know they can get to.”
Maghini ended up putting some of the best three-point shooting numbers in program history.
Her seven threes she bombed against New Britain established a new program record for three-pointers made in a season for either girls or boys and Maghini’s 41 three-pointers was also the most any girl has ever hit in a single season.
Maghini, a surefire all-around talent, scored 321 points in 22 games played (14.6 points-per-game), leading the squad in total assists with 88.
She scored in double-figures in 18 of 22 games while her 29 points versus New Britain was the team’s best scoring effort this year.
At one point of the season, Maghini made 26 straight free throws – missing just six out of her final 49 charity tosses (87.8-percent, 43-of-49).
And then, Janick – one of the squad’s best sharpshooters – scored in every game this season except one.
She did extremely well in Class LL Tournament play and might have been the team’s most consistent offensive weapon.
Janick posted 12.0 points-per-game on hot 11-of-21 shooting from the field (52.4-percent) in two Class LL contests.
She kicked in a career high 16 points in the 51-42 victory over Lyman Hall and her 22 three-point bombs were the second most on the squad this year.
And Janick’s 71 assists were good for second place on the squad.
She also had four games of three steals including three in a row after the close loss at Edwin O. Smith to open season play.
In all, Janick scored 212 points as the third leading scorer on the Lancers’ squad (8.8 ppg).
She also nabbed 36 steals for an average of 1.5 per contest and had that amazing nine assist game at Bristol Central.
And then there were several sophomores that were instrumental to the success of the program as well.
“My sophomore group has done a super job,” said Floyd. “Meredith Forman really has done a great job on the boards [and] really improved on her inside game in the last four weeks. Paige McLaughlin, as a backup guard, really came on handling the ball [and] shooting the ball. And there’s been some games where she has been the spark plug for our team. That has been great.”
Foreman started two games for the Lancers and was the top scoring and rebounding reserve off the bench in 2016-17 for Eastern.
Her numbers were solid as a reserve, hitting 3.1 points, and snaring 4.0 rebounds-per-game.
She was a perfect sixth-man who, as she displayed, could start in a pinch or come off the pine – as was a feisty Paige McLaughlin.
Foreman snared season bests of nine rebounds against Wethersfield and New Milford while capturing 12 points – easily a career high – versus Platt.
She notched 10-plus points twice, grabbed six-plus rebounds in a game six times, and averaged five rebounds in the two games she started in 2016-17.
Foreman played in all 24 games for the Lancers and might be a starter next season with the loss of the senior core.
McLaughlin was probably the toughest player on the court, pound-for-pound, and the 5-foot-4 guard is gritty and an extreme rebounder for someone her size.
She played in all 24 games, all off the bench for Eastern.
McLaughlin snared three-plus rebounds in a game seven times while twice dishing off the ball on three occasions.
Both Foreman and McLaughlin nabbed 21 steals off the bench, showing defensive prowess off the bench.
And McLaughlin’s final averages were 2.4 points and 1.9 rebounds-per-game.
Before she hurt her back, Julia Tice was part of the Lancers’ excellent eight-man rotation – playing in the first 10 games of the campaign.
Her best moments on the floor came at Middletown where she burned the Blue Dragons for eight points on hot 4-of-4 shooting.
Tice canned 50-percent of her field goals overall (8-of-16) and had a four rebound game in the victory over Newington.
“We got a couple other kids that got hurt,” said Floyd. “Julia Tice really helped us earlier in the season [but hurt her back]. We were doing very well with that [eight-man] rotation but then we started getting injuries with her, Hannah and Paige and it just sort of killed us a little bit.”
“We were never able to get back to that real [rotation].”
Comments? Email mletendre@BristolObserver.com.