BRISTOL – The Bristol Eastern girls basketball squad enjoyed senior night festivities on Monday, Feb. 11 by running up a 24-0 start over rival Bristol Central on its way to a 35-point decision.
And in the end, the Lancers zipped up a 63-28 victory – finishing the regular season at 13-7, a six game improvement from the previous campaign.
Eastern shot lights out over the first 12 minutes of the game, starting an all-senior line-up, and when the reserves came in, the offensive flow never wavered.
“The biggest thing [tonight] was the way everybody played together,” said Eastern coach Tony Floyd. “They played within themselves. They didn’t get caught up in the rivalry which I was glad of.”
“They’re still playing the way they’ve been playing the last three weeks or so.”
Central finished the year at 4-16 and never got a chance to take any type of advantage early on during the fray.
Eastern started the contest by hitting 9-of-15 shots and midway through the second frame, the Lancers had canned 14-of-23 field goals (61-percent) that must have felt much worse from the view on the Rams’ bench.
“And when they shoot about 80 percent in the first quarter…they didn’t miss,” said Central coach Steve Gaudet of Eastern’s hot start.
Eastern’s Ciara Collins led all players with 17 points while nabbing four rebounds and two assists, Jordan Ouellette only missed one field goal on her way to 12 points, six rebounds, two assists, and two steals while senior Meredith Forman finished her last regular season home game from the Thomas M. Monahan Gymnasium with 12 points – canning both her three-pointers – and scooping up three rebounds.
Senior Paige McLaughlin added six points and a team-high seven rebounds; Avery Arbuckle rounded up five points, six rebounds, and three blocks; Sage Scarritt zipped in four points, three rebounds, and rejected three shots; and senior Julia Gettings collected four points and a career-high three assists.
Seniors Maura McGuire and Amaya Massari also started their final home games for Eastern, leading a charge that saw the home team turn the ball over a season-low 11 times.
“They’re executing,” said Floyd of his team. “They’re talking, they’re playing. Everybody is doing their job as a team. And that’s been helpful. They’re understanding their roles, not making a lot of turnovers, and making better decisions.”
“I’m very proud of them tonight.”
Ashley Watson ended her scholastic career with 11 tough points; Kayla Beaulieu added five; while Laney Maher-Darden netted four for the Rams.
Central forced Eastern into early miscues in the contest but when those mistakes weren’t turned into points; the Lancers started generating turnovers of their own – collecting lay-ups or hitting long range three-point bombs to put the game out of reach early.
“When we turn the ball over as much as we did against the press, and [Eastern] doesn’t miss, and we’re limited to one opportunity, one shot, and they come right back down, we’re not going to find too much success that way,” said Gaudet.
Central could have put something on the board early but missed a few charity tosses as Eastern’s offense took charge.
Gettings drained the first hoop of the game and midway through the stanza, Eastern put its usual line-up in and the points were hung on the scoreboard quickly.
Over the final 4:34 of the first period, the Lancers scored 20 points as Central’s misses and turnovers were turned into Eastern offense.
Collins canned three threes over the run and when Arbuckle dropped in her second three-pointer of the year, it was a 22-0 contest after one period of play.
Ouellette flipped in a hoop to open the second quarter, making it a 24-0 game, before Ashley Watson – scoring eight points in the stanza – hit a hoop for Central’s first points with 7:29 left to go before the half.
Later in the frame, Forman canned back-to-back 3s off multiple assists from Gettings and when McLaughlin buried a lay-up with 47 seconds remaining in the second period, it was a 44-11 game.
“We shot very well,” said Floyd. “The last time we played them, we shot like 20-percent up [at Central]. We’ve been playing very well. We’ve been putting quarters together [and] trying to put a whole game together.”
Eastern continued its onslaught in the third tilt as McLaughlin put home two of her own misses while Scarritt connected on back-to-back hoops and with 2:36 left in the stanza, the home team was in control at 56-16.
Central never threw in the towel and hit several free throws over the final quarter of action.
Erika Santilli hit a hoop; Beaulieu canned consecutive free throws – as did Maher – but that added offense could not put any major dent in the deficit.
Eastern’s Grace D’Amato ended the night with a charity toss as the Lancers – improving from the seven win campaign of last year – ended the regular season with a resounding 35-point win.
“It’s a nice way for the seniors to finish up,” said Floyd. “It’s a nice going away game for them. They worked hard for four years and I’m proud of them.”
The contest was the final scholastic game for Central’s Allie Jessie, Erika Santilli, Kayla Beaulieu, and Ashley Watson, who worked hard to end the season – winning three of their final six games to wrap things up.
“They’re a resilient group,” said Gaudet of his seniors. “To come back after having three tough years prior to this and to have a good start [this year], to finish the way they did, it’s a testament to the type of kids they are.”
“I’m going to miss them a lot.”
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Michael Letendre, email him at MLetendre@BristolObserver.com.