The Plainville boys basketball team may have set the bar higher than could have been expected after graduating seven seniors and four starters from last year’s state tournament team, but the Blue Devils fought to the very end to try to reach it.
Plainville closed out the regular season with a tough, 50-44 loss to RHAM on Feb 18 and finished up with a 45-44 win over Bristol Eastern on Feb 21. The they just missed qualifying for the postseason, but Devils finished the year at 6-14.
The Devils were not only young but they were inexperienced with only juniors Javan Paradis and Alec Couture having quality varsity game experience. Senior Louis Passaretti and junior AJ Lestini also saw varsity time last year.
“I’m proud of Louis,” said Devils coach Jim DiNello. “He was a four year player and did a great job stepping in for us at the start of the season. His work ethic and his desire to succeed will be missed. He always gave us quality minutes.”
Now, DiNello and assistant coach Jeff Smedick will head back to the drawing board to try and pick up the piece from last year’s Southern Region Patriot Division title.
It didn’t help to lose junior Tanner Callahan with an injury prior to the start of the season, being one of a handful of players who did get some varsity minutes last year. Junior Tyshawn Johnson had to sit out the first half of the season due to transfer requirements by the CIAC.
Once Johnson came back into the fold things were starting to look up for the Devils after capturing back-to-back wins to get within three games of qualifying for the post season. Then Plainville hit another bump in the road when Paradis (16 points per game) became academically ineligible and the Devils finished up 6-14 on the season.
“It comes down to taking care of business, and at times we didn’t do that,” said DiNello. “Basketball is a game of matchups and there were times we just didn’t match up well with some opponents.”
Even with all the pit falls and bumps in the road Plainville had their opportunities but couldn’t quite capitalize on them. Four times this season the Devils had the lead at the half and wound up in the losing column.
Plainville outscored the opposition in the second half just three times in 20 games this season, another factor in the win-loss record. Finding success on the hardwood in the CCC is hard enough but being unable to capitalize on your opportunities makes it that much harder.
The goal of reaching the state tournament for the second year in a row may have slipped them by, but along the way DiNello developed enough talent to give Plainville some hope heading into the off season.
Paradis has scored 416 points over the past two seasons, and Couture with 355 points give the Devils a solid one-two scoring threat. In just 10 games played, Johnson showed he’s got game putting up 136 points for a 13 point per game average.
Lestini hit for double figures five times with a season high of 20 averaging out to 8 points per game on 160 points. Omar Miller was a find off the bench at 126 points for an average of 6 points per game.
Brennan Staubley had his moments putting down double-digits three times for 75 points but a little consistency marked by a little more experience could send those figures even higher.
Junior Dylan Hall and Cameron Lamothe worked their way into viable options off the bench adding to the rebounding depth and a presence on defense. Plainville will graduate Passaretti who was a huge asset to start the season with Johnson and Callahan out of the lineup.
If Plainville works at what they started, during the offseason, they can become a team to be reckoned with. If they wait around until next December to pick up the basketball again it will be another uphill fight.
The Feb 18 game against RHAM summed up the season and what Plainville was up against. Johnson (17 points) slashed through the lane putting shots in off the window even when he was double and triple teamed.
Couture (17 points) took a step back behind the three-point arc and just rippled the net, and at one point hitting the first three shots of the second quarter to open up a 22-15 lead with 4:08 left in the half.
Then came the miscues, turnovers and bad decisions with the basketball as Plainville went scoreless the rest of the second quarter and the game was tied at the break, 22-22.
By the time the Devils knocked down their next shot there was 3:10 remaining in the third quarter marking seven minutes without a basket. Lestini (6 points) got aggressive in the paint for a pair of put-backs to tie the game 34-34 heading into the final quarter.
The rest of the Devils managed to score just four points in the game and without a balanced scoring attack RHAM managed to escape with a 50-44 win.
“We just have to find a few more points somewhere,” said DiNello, summing up what has been a problem all season. “The effort is there and again as it has all season it’s coming down to a handful of possessions, a rebound here and there and a few more points at crucial times.”
Plainville did pull out a win in the final game of the season but needed every second for the 45-44 seat grabber against Bristol Eastern. Johnson led the way with 15 points, Miller and Staubley checked in with 8 points each, Couture added 7 points and Lestini added 5 points.
“The bottom line is you can come back a year older and a year bigger but if you don’t come back better than you were then you didn’t really accomplish anything. You need to spend some time and work at it. It takes work to get better it just doesn’t happen.”
To comment on this story or to contact our sports department, email us at Sports@PlainvilleObserver.com.