By MICHAEL LETENDRE
WINDSOR – The Bristol Eastern girls basketball team trailed early in its second round CIAC Class L showdown at Windsor on Friday, March 6 and never got over the hump before time ran out.
The ninth ranked Lancers hung around but when the final buzzer sounded, the eighth rated Warriors came away with a 48-36 victory to end Eastern’s season.
The Lancers completed the year with an outstanding 18-6 record while Windsor (18-5) advanced to square off against No. 1 seeded Notre Dame-Fairfield (21-1) in a quarterfinal tilt.
Eastern never got into the offensive flow against Windsor until later in the game and that’s when the home team had already built a 10-point edge.
Twenty-one turnovers sabotaged the Lancers’ efficient offense. Over the first eight minutes of play, Eastern didn’t match Windsor’s energy on the court.
“The biggest thing is we didn’t execute offensively,” said Eastern coach Tony Floyd. “We turned the ball over too much when we were running our offense in the beginning of the game to give them that lead. Then we settled down and executed a little bit but we could never get over the hump.”
Eastern chopped the deficit to 20-14 with 1:05 to play in the second quarter but never got that close again the rest of the showdown.
Rebecca Fraley led the Warriors attack with 17 points; Azure Riley nabbed 13; Rachel Cleveland collected eight; while Raeann Reid scored six over the victorious effort.
Eastern’s Ciara Collins gave it a whirl, hitting over 50-percent of her field goals on her way to team-leading totals of 19 points and eight rebounds. She hit the only three-pointer of the game.
Senior Jordan Ouellette ended her career with 12 points, three rebounds, and a couple steals.
“I thought at times that Ciara and Jordan had spurts that got us going,” said Floyd. “But we never could put a run together. We were never able to play our game. We played their game – a catch-up game. That’s not our kind of style of play.”
Cali Doyon nabbed three points, five assists, and three steals while senior Avery Arbuckle added two points, seven rebounds, and a couple of blocks.
Sage Scarritt and Alyssa Kehler (four rebounds) also saw some floor time for the Lancers.
Eastern never held the lead and it took the Lancers nearly 3:30 to hit their first basket.
But off a jumper from Ouellette and two field goals by Collins, the deficit was chopped to 8-6 with 1:50 to go in the first period.
It would be nearly three minutes before Eastern scored again and off two charity shots by Riley, it was a 16-6 game with 6:43 remaining in the second quarter.
Still trailing by 10 with 3:30 left before the half, Eastern went on a mini 6-2 run and Collins heated up.
Off a Collins offensive rebound and put-back, Arbuckle found the shooter for a baseline jumper. When the sophomore hit another hoop with 1:05 left in the frame, Eastern’s deficit was trimmed to 20-14.
But a late turnover prevented Eastern from chopping the deficit any further and off two Windsor shots, including a buzzer-beating lay-up by Fraley, the Lancers entered the locker room down ten at 24-14.
The deficit grew to 13 a couple of times in the third and via a Cleveland lay-up, it was a 33-20 late in the stanza and the Warriors were rolling.
But a period ending 7-2 jaunt by the Kingstreeters saw Ouellette can two free throws; Doyon put in a miss, and when Collins hit her three, it was just a 35-27 game with eight minutes left.
Eastern has possession of the ball to start the final period but two quick turnovers kept Windsor in control.
It was 39-29 with 6:39 remaining before Ouellette found Collins for another hoop and Doyon had four free throw tries that could have gotten the deficit down to four points.
She made one foul shot but with 5:22 to go, the Lancers were close – trailing 39-32.
Five straight points from Fraley saw the Warriors scoop up a 44-32 lead with 2:49 to play as the home hoopsters went to its four corner offense, stalling out the game.
To end the contest, Collins hit two free throws and Ouellette canned her final jumper with 56 seconds showing on the clock.
It was a 46-36 game by that point and the Lancers emptied their bench to signal the end of the game.
“We got it down to six,” said Floyd. “And that was it. I thought the big thing was that we didn’t hit the boards really well. We didn’t get enough rebounds against them and we didn’t make those stops that we needed to make.”
In the end, Windsor was a big 48-36 winner as the Lancers’ season came to a conclusion in the second round of the state tournament.
It would be the final scholastic contests for Eastern seniors Jessica Levesque, Vandra Horvath, Emiah Miller and captains Jordan Ouellette and Avery Arbuckle.