MANCHESTER – The Bristol Eastern girls basketball team qualified for the Central Connecticut Conference Tournament and in first round action, the Lancers – ranked 10th in the field – ended up playing against No. 7 East Catholic on the road on Thursday, Feb. 14.
And with less than a minute to play, trailing by three, Eastern had a good shot at tying the thing up.
However, the Lancers were just one three short and in the end, the Eagles came away with a 43-38 victory to advance in tournament play.
It was a great playoff test for the Lancers and instead of just getting a scrimmage to fill the time between the end of the regular season and the Class L state tournament, Eastern head coach Tony Floyd and his squad made an excellent showing against East Catholic (17-4).
Both teams did not lead by more than eight points while Eastern’s biggest edge in the contest came in the first period.
A free throw by Jordan Ouellette (five points, seven rebounds, four assists, two steals) with 1:52 to play in the first made it a 14-7 contest with the Lancers in charge.
The Eagles then used a 15-2 burst to capture a 24-16 edge with 3:10 to play in the second period.
Paige McLaughlin (eight points, four rebounds, four assists) then hit a floater and Avery Arbuckle canned one last field goal with 1:06 to play in the second frame but East Catholic led 26-20 at the half.
Meredith Forman (seven points, six rebounds) opened the third tilt with a three and when McLaughlin hit a foul shot, the deficit was chopped to 26-24 with 6:32 to play in the quarter.
That was as close as Eastern got within the lead.
A late hoop by East Catholic’s Emily Jemeal (five points) stretched the lead back out to eight and the home squad settled on a 37-30 push with eight minutes to play.
In the fourth, Eastern’s Ciara Collins (11 points, team-high eight rebounds, two steals) and Ouellette canned hoops to slice the deficit to three at 39-36. But Lilly Ferguson (game-high 12 points) hit a lay-up with 3:17 left that made it a five-point game.
The Eagles slowed things down but two free throws from Collins made it a one-possession game again at 41-38 with under a minute to play.
The Lancers had to foul to get into the penalty and when Ferguson missed the front end of a 1-and-1, it gave the Lancers a chance to tie things up with a three.
And Collins lined up a great attempt at a trifecta, about six feet behind the three-point line. But that just rimmed out as Cami Pasqualoni grabbed the rebound, was fouled, and hit two free throws to make it a 43-38 game icing the contest with 5.5 seconds remaining. With the loss, Eastern fell to 13-8 on the campaign.
Here’s a breakdown of the tournament and first round results:
Central Connecticut Conference – Girls Basketball Tournament
- Windsor (16-0)
- East Hartford (14-2)
- Newington (14-2)
- Glastonbury (13-3)
- E.O. Smith (13-3)
- Berlin (13-3)
- East Catholic (12-4)
- Simsbury (12-4)
- Hall (11-5)
- Bristol Eastern (11-5)
- Wethersfield (11-5)
- Bloomfield (10-6)
- RHAM (10-6)
- Farmington (9-7)
- Manchester (8-8)
First Round – Thursday, February 14
No. 1 Windsor 67, No. 16 Conard 41
No. 2 East Hartford 59, No. 15 Manchester 56
No. 3 Newington 45, No. 14 Farmington 30
No. 4 Glastonbury 57, No. 13 RHAM 52
No. 5 Edwin O. Smith 56, No. 12 Bloomfield 39
No. 6 Berlin 59, No. 11 Wethersfield 46
No. 7 East Catholic 43, No. 10 Bristol Eastern 38
No. 9 Hall 33, No. 8 Simsbury 29
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Michael Letendre, email him at MLetendre@BristolObserver.com.