By MICHAEL LETENDRE
BRISTOL – The back luck continued for the Bristol Eastern girls basketball squad on Monday, Jan. 29 as the Lancers fell at home to Middletown by a 58-57 final in a Central Connecticut Conference Southern Division game from the Thomas M. Monahan Gymnasium in Bristol.
Eastern (6-10) has lost four games this season by a single possession, playing one of the toughest schedules the CCC has offered this year.
But it wasn’t all bad as Eastern guard Hannah Maghini made program history by tying her mark for three-pointers made in a game with seven. She also retied her career high of 29 points – establishing that tally as a junior in an 80-78 double overtime win against New Britain on Jan. 23, 2017.
In this contest, Maghini drained all seven of her three-point bombs before the completion of the third quarter.
With 27 points on the board and Maghini consistently burning the Blue Dragons’ defense, the opponents used a box-and-one defense to eventually slow the sharpshooter down.
She scored just two points over the final eight minutes of play but her final hoop with 1:11 remaining chopped the deficit to one.
Miranda Janick did a very good John Stockton impersonation with a slick double-double of 12 points and 10 assists, Jordan Ouellette added 14 points, four rebounds, and four assists, while Avery Arbuckle didn’t score a point but chipped in seven rebounds and rejected two shots.
Cheyenne Sargent earned the start and posted two rebounds and two blocks, while Karly Martin probably played her best game to date. Martin scored two points, snared a season-high five rebounds, posted two steals, and showed plenty of hustle and grit.
The game slowed down to a crawl in the fourth frame as the squads combined to score just 13 points.
Middletown opened the game on a 7-2 burst but a 14-4 Lancers’ run – capped by a jumper from Maghini – propelled Eastern to a 16-11 lead. The Blue Dragons trailed by three after one completed frame, 16-13.
After scoring 10 first period points, Maghini added another eight in the second and when she drained her fourth three of the game with 3:11 to go before intermission, the Lancers led by two possessions.
But Amanda Fudge (10 points) canned a couple lay-ups to end the half and when the visitors kicked in two free throws, Middletown led 33-31 at intermission.
However, once play resumed, the Blue Dragons quickly fell behind in the game.
Maghini – who blasted in three three-pointers over the third tilt – opened the half with a three and when Janick found Ouellette for another hoop, the Lancers were in charge at 36-33.
But the Blue Dragons upped the defense, Eastern missed a couple hoops, and on the power of a 14-2 Middletown run, the visitors scooped up a 47-38 cushion with 2:48 to play in the stanza.
However, Maghini and Janick connected on back-to-back 3s to close the deficit to a one possession game.
And with 45 seconds to go in the third, Maghini hit her school-tying record seventh three-pointer and when Janick slipped in a game-tying jumper, it was a brand new contest at 51-51 with eight minutes to go.
And then with the box-and-one applied to Maghini in the fourth, both offenses slowed down to a crawl but the team’s exchanged leads late.
At the 4:10 mark of the final period, Martin found Janick for a quick hoop as Eastern strode up a 55-53 edge.
After a free throw from Middletown, MacKenzie Dunn (13 points) hit the go-ahead 3 with 2:05 left to give the Blue Dragons a 57-55 push.
A free throw from Kya Mayo – the athlete who had to chase Maghini all over the court in that box-and-one defense – made it a three-point game with 1:41 to go.
Thirty seconds later, Maghini flipped in a lay-up with 1:11 left to chop the deficit to 58-57 but Eastern – who wasn’t in foul trouble – had to play the foul game, trying to eventually put Middletown on the free throw line, hoping for a miss.
The Blue Dragons were content to hold the ball and let time drizzle of the clock as Eastern had to commit several fouls but with seven seconds remaining, Middletown finally was forced to shoot a one-and-one situation from the charity stripe.
But the attempt by Dominique Highsmith (nine points) was missed and Eastern had the ball with five seconds to play.
Maghini took the ball to the hoop, was tripped and fouled but Middletown was not yet in the penalty. The ball had to be inbounded once more.
Again, Maghini was fouled but Eastern was not shooting yet in the penalty.
On Eastern’s last possession, Ouellette got the ball into Martin who quickly advanced it to Arbuckle.
Arbuckle appeared to get pushed to the floor by a couple Middletown defenders but was called a traveling violation – giving the ball back to the Blue Dragons.
All Middletown had to do inbound the ball and did so as the final horn sounded.
In the end, the visitors hung on to defeat Eastern by a point – 58-57.
NOTES…On Thursday, Feb. 1, the Lancers led Maloney 20-16 at the half but ended up falling to the Spartans 42-31 in the end. Eastern dropped to 6-11 overall in the losing effort with three games to play. The Lancers had to win two out of its final three contests to qualify for the state tournament.
Comments? Email mletendre@BristolObserver.com.