Itâ€™s rare when a freshman is selected for â€śAthlete of the Weekâ€ť honors in area high school sports, but having two at the same time is almost unheard of. But thatâ€™s the case this week as Ciara Collins of Bristol Eastern and Donovan Clinghan of Bristol Central are honored.
Collins, who plays point guard, is the daughter of Jim and Orla Collins. She tallied a game-high 23 points a week ago in a win over Middleton, while adding season highs of 10 rebounds and nine assists in the game. She then chipped in five points on Thursday when the Lancers topped crosstown rival Bristol Central, 49-29.
Her coach, Tony Floyd, is pleased with her progress as a â€śquick learner.â€ť She is the second-leading scorer on the team with more than 12 points an outing and leads in assists, while excelling in rebounding and steals.
â€śSheâ€™s been maturing every game, facing different defenses and offenses, acclimating very well and with a lot of support from her teammates through this transition,â€ť Floyd said. â€śIâ€™m very pleased how her development has come. Having stepped into the point guard position with the injury to Cali Doyon, she has been doing a great job adjusting to the varsity game very well.â€ť
Last season, the Lancers went 7-14 and lost in the first round of the 2018 Class LL tournament. They enter this week in much better shape, with a 7-5 win-loss mark after starting the season with three straight losses.
â€śWe started out real slow. We werenâ€™t really connected,â€ť Collins said. â€śWe played as individuals, not as five people on the court. We started at practice working harder than before and communicating and we started playing together as a team.
â€śOur goal is that we want to win our division in the CCC. We have Plainville and Bristol Central in that division, and we want to make it pretty far in the states.â€ť
Collins started basketball at age 6. She played for Upward, sponsored by Hillside Community Church, the Bristol Boys & Girls Club, St. Matthews School and AAU with the Bristol Bandits.
â€śI like the speed and intensity of it, the competition, and I like that itâ€™s a team sport, not individual, and you have people at your back,â€ť Collins said. â€śScoring is always nice, but assists are an important part of the game.
â€śDefinitely the level of intensity. When I was in eighth grade there was not as much expectation. In high school everything is more intense and thereâ€™s the environment of playing with bigger crowds. Itâ€™s a family environment, everyone has your back.â€ť
In addition to basketball, Collins played soccer this past fall for the Lancers as an all-conference selection and will concentrate on lacrosse this spring.
Clingan, the son of Bill and the late Stacey Clingan, has been on a tear for the Rams. His most recent game was a 47-39 win against crosstown rival Bristol Eastern on Friday night. The freshman standout dropped in 24 points while also dominating on defense. He had 30 points two games prior.
Easternâ€™s Jahcyrus Bynum acknowledged his opponentâ€™s work on the boards.
â€śHeâ€™s a big kid,â€ť Bynum said. â€śWe boxed him out to a point where he couldnâ€™t get many rebounds, but sometimes you just have to tip your cap when he gets those boards.â€ť
Clinganâ€™s Rams, like Collinsâ€™ Lancers, started off slow this season, with four straight losses, and since they have captured four of six games. They are now 4-6 with hopes of climbing over .500.
â€śStarting off, we had rough games and then we started getting used to each other,â€ť Clingan said.
Clingan started playing basketball in the third grade as best as he can remember. Heâ€™d play around the house and was tall for his age. His mother, a former player, sometimes played ball with him. He began to play elsewhere, such as with the Bristol Boys & Girls Club travel team, AAU with the Simsbury Spartans, Commit-2-Success, and at Chippens Hill Middle School.
â€śItâ€™s fun,â€ť Clingan said. â€śI just like playing with my teammates. Iâ€™m trying to follow in my momâ€™s steps. I think about doing it for her and doing what she did. Itâ€™s fun.
â€śA lot of people ask me if I play because of my height. Itâ€™s a must with my height. I like scoring off rebounds and scoring off a fast break. I like doing it for my family, making them proud.â€ť
Clingan added that his father isnâ€™t noted as a former athlete, but his sister, Olivia, an eighth-grader at Chippens Hill Middle School, also takes part in sports. His mother, Stacey Porrini at the time, played three sports at Bristol Central before going on to the University of Maine, where she was one of the best to ever play basketball there.
Contact Bob Montgomery at or by calling 860-973-1808.