BRISTOL - Facing a deficit at halftime was a common theme for this yearâs Bristol Central boys basketball team.
Staying composed for all 32 minutes of the game was something the Rams built an identity upon, regardless of the scoreboard.
Against Wilton in the second round of the Division II state tournament, the Rams were once again going to need a big second half to advance into the third round, as they trailed by nine points going into the third quarter and had scored just 15 points in the first half.
âI said to the guys that weâve been here before,â Bristol Central head coach Tim Barrette said. âAnd they said âWeâve been down way more than this, coach.â And eventually that could come back to bite you.â
It was when Bristol Central reached 52 points that the Warriors went on a 9-0 run, capitalizing on the absence of Rams senior point guard Isaiah Miller, who fouled out in the final minutes.
Bristol Central had five empty possessions on offense over those final minutes, ultimately leading to its elimination and the end of the high school careers for its seven seniors.
âThatâs not characteristic of a senior-led team,â Barrette said. âBut also thatâs when we didnât have [Isaiah Miller].â
Much of the teamâs second half success throughout the season and the resiliency to stay composed throughout games was due to its seniors.
The Rams had the luxury of starting five seniors throughout the season, one that not many teams have. Jaekwon Spencer, Isaiah Miller, Noah Plantamuro, Dathan Hickey, Alex Lape, Alex Bernier and Brett Kempton have been part of the program all four years at the school.
âIâm proud,â Barrette said. âNot many teams can tell you that they had seven guys play freshmen basketball and seven guys graduate as seniors,â Barrette said. âThereâs nobody new in that group. All seven guys played as freshmen. They picked it up, grew into their roles and I couldnât be prouder of those guys.â
With the loss, the Rams finished the season with an overall record of 18-6.
For most teams, looking back on an 18-6 season would be considered a success. However, for the Bristol Central seniors, all that will matter was the game against the Warriors that ended their high school playing careers.
âI told these guys theyâre one of the winningest groups to ever come to Bristol Central in terms of a four-year period,â Barrette said. â18-6 is not too shabby, let me just say that. But you know whatâs great about the group in there? 18-6 isnât good enough for them. Theyâre sitting in there [after the game Friday] upset because 18-6 wasnât good enough. Most teams would be happy at 18-6, this group wasnât. Thatâs what Iâll remember this group for, they werenât satisfied being 18-6. They really wanted to make a run.â
Dan Orencole can be reached atÂ 860-973-1811 orÂ firstname.lastname@example.org