Girls Basketball: Eastern just misses victory over E. Catholic

By MICHAEL LETENDRE

STAFF WRITER

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

Seedings:

  1. Windsor (16-0)
  2. East Hartford (14-2)
  3. Newington (14-2)
  4. Glastonbury (13-3)
  5. E.O. Smith (13-3)
  6. Berlin (13-3)
  7. East Catholic (12-4)
  8. Simsbury (12-4)
  9. Hall (11-5)
  10. Bristol Eastern (11-5)
  11. Wethersfield (11-5)
  12. Bloomfield (10-6)
  13. RHAM (10-6)
  14. Farmington (9-7)
  15. Manchester (8-8)
  16. Conard

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.