By MICHAEL LETENDRE
Two boys basketball players from Bristol earned All-Conference honors this past scholastic season.
Both Carter Dziedzic from Bristol Eastern and Donovan Clingan of Bristol Central were so honored by the Central Connecticut Conference, CCC South Division for their efforts on the hardwood for the 2018-19 campaign.
Dziedzic just completed his senior season for the Lancers while Clingan might be the most impactful center the Rams have seen since the likes of Bruce Kuczenski roamed the court at Central.
And that’s tall praise, literally.
Central’s 6-foot-8 1/2 center might have started the season out as an unknown but the youngster plowed through all the competition and ended up on everyone’s radar as a future All-State performer (if he’s not one already).
If opponents didn’t know who he was at the beginning of the year, they sure learned about him by the completion of the season.
His numbers were staggering as he averaged 22.2 points-per-game, scoring 466 points overall, to go along with a double-figure rebounding tally and blocked several shots.
That point-total included 182 field goals and 102 free throws.
“I think he’s going to be a really great player in this program,” said Central coach Tim Barrette of Clingan. “We are excited to see how good he can be once he hits the weight room.”
The center scored his season-high of 36 points twice, including in the final contest – Central’s 65-61 overtime loss at New Milford in the first round of the CIAC Division III tournament.
Clingan’s debut was a fine one though it was against an outstanding Manchester squad.
The freshman came away with 14 points, 16 rebounds, and six blocks – just an average night of what was yet to come.
Against Maloney two games later, Clingan dumped in 18 points, 20 rebounds, and six blocks and was averaging 13.7 points-per-game over the first three contests of the campaign.
From that point in the season, the big man averaged 23.6 points-per-game and never looked back.
Clingan stung Wolcott for 19 points, 14 rebounds, and seven rejects and then against Southington, it was triple-double time.
Central’s center posted 11 points, 21 rebounds, and 11 blocks as the squad defeated the Knights 47-39.
He dropped 14 points, 18 rebounds and blocked three shots against Plainville the first time around and then toasted Tolland for 30 points and 17 boards.
Thirty-one points and 20 rebounds was his ledger versus Platt and Clingan then scored 24 points to help Central beat Eastern in his first ever city series encounter 47-39.
And then in Central’s fifth win of the year, Clingan established his season-high of 36 points – posting 15 rebounds and four blocks – as Avon fell to the Rams 72-61.
Clingan scored 27 points in under 22 minutes in a tough loss to non-conference opponent Fitch while adding 25 points to help the Rams stave off Platt in a big 61-60 upset.
To end the season, Clingan posted 35 points in his first loss to Eastern and had those 36 points against New Milford to close out the scholastic year.
He averaged around 18 rebounds and about five blocked shots a game to round out an excellent freshman debut.
On the other side of town, Dziedzic scored nearly 225 points on the year for the Lancers.
Through Eastern’s first six games, Dziedzic was simply a beast – averaging 21.7 points and 7.8 rebounds-per-game as Eastern went 4-2 – winning three straight games in the process.
And he was about to have a huge game against Avon on Saturday, Jan. 5 before a severe ankle injury derailed his campaign.
But the forward, who missed just four games due to the injury, fought through the rest of the season while less than 100-percent, ending his final campaign by averaging nearly 15 points and six rebounds-per-game.
Dziedzic also chipped in a steal-and-a-half a game and was a consistent threat from long range.
The senior’s stat-line of 26 points (his career-high), six rebounds, and five steals (also a career-high) in the opening night loss against RHAM was just a glimpse of the season he was about to put together.
He busted both Watertown and Hall for 24 points and his 11 rebounds at Platt tied his career-high for boards in a game.
Dziedzic collected a season-high three blocks at Watertown in a game that saw the forward miss just four of 15 attempts from the field.
After the injury, he scored 18 points against Middletown and in the final game of the year – the showdown at Bristol Central – Dziedzic added 13 points, five rebounds, a team-high four assists, and four steals to help the Lancers win by a 57-51 final.
Overall, he played in 15 games, scoring in double-figures over 10 of those contests.
He led or co-led the Lancers in scoring nine times, in rebounding four times and in assists twice over his injury riddled campaign.
In total, Dziedzic canned 524 career points. Only 31 players in program history have scored more points than Dziedzic has.
He’s also 27th all-time in career scoring average at 10.9 ppg (524 points over 48 career games).
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Michael Letendre, email him at MLetendre@BristolObserver.com.