Two senior basketball players from Bristol Central share “Athlete of the Week” honors with regards to area scholastic sports. They are Xia’ian (pronounced Cheyenne) Carrasco and Jaekwon Spencer.
Carrasco, the daughter of William and Yolanda Powell, led the Rams’ girls basketball team to its first victory of the 2017-2018 campaign, 50-30, over visiting Hartford Public on Tuesday night.
She posted a team-high 14 points and added 10 rebounds from the forward position, which pleased her coach Steve Gaudet.
“Xia’ian worked really hard this offseason, to get her in the best shape of her life,” Gaudet said. “Xia’ian has really stepped up her game as this season has progressed.”
Carrasco leads the team in rebounding, with just under 10 a game, and offensively has had some big games recently.
“The team follows her lead, and she definitely provides a tremendous amount of energy every day at practices and games. She is an absolute pleasure to coach,” Gaudet said.
Carrasco was happy to finally enjoy a victory this season.
“It was a relentless pursuit from our side,” she said. “We didn’t give up on ourselves, and that helped push us forward. We communicated really well as a team, and I think we wanted it bad and it gave us a boost to win.”
The minutes following the game, Carrasco said, were exciting.
“We were so happy,” she said. “As soon as we slapped the other team’s hands, we got into a huddle and we’re just hugging and laughing. I think it was an important thing for us to win, because with a record like our’s, a lot of teams would have given up.”
A three-sport athlete, Carrasco was all-conference and a team captain in volleyball and team MVP as a right fielder in softball for her school last fall. She’s benefitted in many ways.
“In sports, especially high school, you build bonds that are indescribable,” Carrasco said. “You find a purpose beyond just yourself. You become a leader in having people look up at you, and you make memories that are hard to forget.”
Her plans for next year include playing volleyball and studying elementary education in college, and she added it would be nice to go to a school such as SCSU.
Spencer, the son of Jimmy and Latoya, plays both small forward and shooting guard. He receives an “AOW” nod for the third straight season.
A captain, his play and leadership is a key part of coach Tim Barrette’s 10-3 Rams coming into this week. He had 15 points and 10 rebounds in a win against Avon and 35 points and 18 boards against Hartford Public last week, both Central wins. He’s averaging 20.4 points and 11.2 rebounds per game this season.
“I’m most impressed by the leadership role he has tried to assume in the locker room,” Barrette said. “He has recently been trying to lead the team both with his play and with his mouth, which is a new role for him. Isaiah Miller is normally the general on the floor, but most recently Jaekwon has been taking up that role along with Isaiah.”
Spencer’s commitment to the team has been witnessed by his teammates
“We started off bad, I’d say, because we took teams for granted,” Spencer said. “As freshmen we went 20-0, so we thought that would happen again.
“Those three losses [early in the season] were wakeup calls. I’m a captain this year, so I told the team we’d have to go undefeated [in January].”
Monday’s win secured that.
Spencer noted some other goals.
“For the team, it’s to go to Mohegan Sun [for the state championship game], that‘s the main goal,” Spencer said. “I definitely think we can do it. My individual goal is to play my part and make sure all my teammates are also in the position to win.”
With almost four years of high school basketball under his belt, Spencer has realized more and more what the sport has brought his way.
“It keeps me focused,” Spencer said. “It keeps me out of trouble. It keeps me active and occupied instead of getting myself into trouble. It’ll get me to college and play at that level. That’ll be a good experience.”
His classes at the next level will likely encompass athlete training. He’s not sure how far basketball will take him. If it stops after college, he wants to set himself up so he can stay involved in sports, whether it be athletic training or something else. He gets along with coach Barrette very well, but doesn’t see himself as a coach one day.
Barrette has been a good mentor, Spencer said.
“He’s the perfect person to talk to, not only about the team, but life in general,” he said. “I talk to him almost every day.”
Contact Bob Montgomery at or by calling 860-973-1808.