BRISTOL - The start to the month of January has been a good one for the Bristol Central boys basketball team.
The Rams won their first six games of the New Year, thanks in part to their offense, which averaged 61.3 points coming into Friday night’s game against Bristol Eastern.
But Bristol Central showcased its ability to win when its offense struggled to find any consistency, especially in the first half, against the Lancers, who held the Rams to 20 points below their January average in the 41-30 victory.
"Give credit to Bristol Eastern," Bristol Central head coach Tim Barrette said. "They played hard and they always do for [their] coach [Bunty] Ray. They're well coached. They know us very well and we know them very well so it makes for these low scoring types of games."
That’s where the Rams’ defense came into play and kept them in the game.
"We played defense [Friday] for about 25 minutes of the 32 minutes," Barrette said. "They only hit 30 in the last shot of the game."
At halftime the score was just 14-14. But some halftime adjustments, quickly turned things around as the Rams outscored Bristol Eastern 27-16 over the final 16 minutes.
"Coach got on us at halftime," Bristol Central’s Justus Fitzpatrick said. "And when we came out we came out fast and we played good defense which led into good offense."
With Rams’ leading scorer, Jaekwon Spencer, struggling in the first half, it was a complete effort put in by the Lancers on the defensive end. Bristol Eastern grinded it out but Bristol Central kept working and as the time ran, the Lancers’ defensive effort stalled.
Still, seeing that kind of defense throughout most of the game should be beneficial for the Rams, as they hope to make a postseason run, now having clinched a spot in the Division II tournament.
"It really gave us good experience," Bristol Central’s Isaiah Miller said, "because in the playoffs, we'll play teams like Eastern that see our athleticism and see our speed and want to slow us down. So we gotta be able to play against this type of team to come out with wins."
Playing against their rival, the Rams got exposed to different situations facing a team that knows them better than other teams. The end result for Bristol Central was positive with the win.
Now, the Rams know some weaknesses they still need to address in order to make a tournament run.
"I'm satisfied," Barrette said afterward. "I'm happy with the effort and the defensive play. I think offensively, we showed some lapses in judgment until the second half and then we started to exert our ability and our strength, which pushed the game out."
Dan Orencole can be reached at 860-973-1811 or firstname.lastname@example.org