By MICHAEL LETENDRE
BRISTOL – What will the Bristol Central girls basketball team do for an encore after an amazing jaunt into the second round of the Class L state tournament bracket for the first time since the early 2000s?
How about getting right back into the playoff mix and, perhaps, go even a little bit further.
The Rams are looking to build off a beautiful 2012-13 campaign and with more than a couple starters coming back into the mix, Central could be even better than its 7-7 CCC South ledger it put together last year.
So, what’s in store for the Rams?
Here’s what to look for in 2013-14:
Head Coach: Steve Gaudet (9th season, 42-120)
Last Season: 11-11 overall (No. 26 Central upset No. 7 Avon in Class L first round action but dropped a hard fought 33-28 decision to tenth rated and eventual champion Farmington).
Key Losses: Lauren Bossi (F/C); Gretchen Edelman (F).
CCC South All Conference Players from 2012-13: Lauren Bossi (F/C); Chandler Walker (F/C).
Probable Returners: Chandler Walker (sr., F/C); Ashley Elder (jr., G); Erika Monsalve (jr., G); Jenn Fannon (sr., G); Christina Bouvier (sr., F); Allie Martel (so., G).
What to expect: Central grew leaps and bounds over the 2012-13 scholastic season and by the end of the year, the Rams had soon to be Class L state champions Farmington on the ropes.
See what a little seasoning and experience can do for a squad?
So, in 2013-14, Gaudet is looking for a repeat performance in the regular season, a better tournament ranking, and then a bit of a run in the playoffs.
There’s some returning talent coming back and it’s the power of those returners that should lead the squad once again.
And that force up-front will be senior Chandler Walker who is certainly a top-five player in all the CCC South.
She was a double-double (double figures in both points and rebounds) machine last year and when she’s healthy, Walker is the toughest player on the court.
The squad, at times, lacked a little scoring punch and in more that a couple games last season, four, six or eight additional points could have meant a victory or two more.
Hopefully, that scoring load will come from a couple of junior guards in the form of Ashley Elder and Erika Monsalve.
The duo is an ever improving combo at guard and if they can carry some more of the scoring load, it’s a big-time lift for the Rams.
With three starters in the fold, additional help could come in the form of guards Jenn Fannon (senior) and Allie Martel (sophomore) and senior forward Christina Bouvier.
Some other youngsters will have to step it up and if this team can get any kind of lift from its bench, only good things are in store for the group.
Over Gaudet’s years, his squads have performed very well on the defensive end and that’s exactly where the team’s strength will be once again.
And then there was its showing in state tournament action last year.
Last season, the No. 26 ranked Rams knocked off No. 7 Avon in a 52-26 blowout on the road and then three nights later, Central went back to that area to battle 10-rated Farmington.
The Rams had the Indians down and out – holding Farmington to only 33 points in the game – but dropped the contest by five points.
Central could be that dark-horse once again and by the time the Rams and Lancers clash, that other team from across town might finally be ready to knock off Eastern.
Here’s a quick look at the Rams’ up-coming season schedule:
Date Opponent Location Time
Wednesday, Dec. 11 vs. Bloomfield Bristol Central 7 p.m.
Friday, Dec. 13 at Maloney at Maloney 7 p.m.
Tuesday, Dec. 17 at East Hartford at East Hartford 7 p.m.
Friday, Dec. 20 vs. Wethersfield Bristol Central 7 p.m.
Monday, Dec. 23 at Berlin at Berlin 7 p.m
Monday, Dec. 30 at Conard at Conard 7 p.m.
Friday, Jan. 3 vs. Newington Bristol Central 7 p.m.
Monday, Jan. 6 vs. Platt Bristol Central 7 p.m.
Thursday, Jan. 9 vs. Bulkeley Bristol Central 7 p.m.
Monday, Jan. 13 at Middletown at Middletown 7 p.m.
Saturday, Jan. 18 vs. Plainville Bristol Central 7 p.m.
Tuesday, Jan. 21 vs. Maloney Bristol Central 7 p.m.
Thursday, Jan. 23 at Bristol Eastern at Monahan Gym 7 p.m.
Tuesday, Jan. 28 at Simsbury at Simsbury 7 p.m.
Friday, Jan. 31 vs. Berlin Bristol Central 7 p.m.
Tuesday, Feb. 4 at Platt at Orville Platt 7 p.m.
Friday, Feb. 7 at Bulkeley at Babe Allen FH 7 p.m.
Tuesday, Feb. 11 vs. Middletown Bristol Central 7 p.m.
Thursday, Feb. 13 at Plainville at Ivan Wood Gym 7 p.m.
Monday, Feb. 17 vs. Bristol Eastern Bristol Central 7 p.m.