BRISTOL - A 25-point lead after the first quarter is a cushion any basketball team would love to have, but the opposing team still has ample time to mount a comeback.
That’s what almost happened to the Bristol Central boys basketball team in its win over Maloney on Tuesday night.
The Rams played a nearly perfect opening period, outscoring the Spartans 27-2, and were scoring in a variety of ways.
But in the second quarter, Central’s offense stalled as it started turning the ball over, which gave Maloney easy scores.
“We have to stop turning the ball over for live ball turnovers, I tell my guys that a lot,” head coach Tim Barrette said. “When you turn the ball over [as a] live ball, the problem is they end up with layups. With our defense, if we’re set, we can play with anyone. If we turn it over for easy layups like we did [against] Windsor too many times, that’s what let them back in the game.”
Maloney’s primary focus on defense, like most teams, was to prevent center Donovan Clingan from getting the ball, which required more than one defender. That forced Central’s perimeter players to find the open man along the outside and led to cross-court passes that were often easily intercepted and turned into fast-break scoring opportunities.
“I always say you can’t throw the ball backwards,” Barrette said. “You have to use ball fakes, you have to be strong with the ball. Obviously know one is meaning to turn the ball over, but obviously we’ve been stressing it for a couple of weeks now and we need to get better at it.”
The Spartans cut the 25-point deficit to 10 by halftime with a 23-8 second quarter, but were unable to keep up after the break.
The Rams’ offense bounced back from the difficult eight-minute span to pull away with a 26-point win after being reminded their conference doesn’t give them days off.
“They’re a good team, they have [nine] wins,” Barrette said. “It was two good teams that want to win tonight. Welcome to the CCC, it’s a battle every time we play these guys and [when] we play anyone in the CCC division. I thought the crowd added some energy tonight, it was a little physical on both ends.”
The win keeps Central in first place atop the CCC South and improved it to sixth in Division II with four games left in the regular season.
With a spot in the state tournament already firmly secured, Barrette is looking to secure as many postseason games in his own gym as possible.
“We’re playing for seeding,” Barrette said. “[If] you want to play a home game this is what you have to do, you have to take care of business. We have opportunities in the next couple of weeks to solidify our seed and get some home games in the state tournament and hopefully we come out and play with the same energy in the first quarter.”
Matt Hornick can be reached at (860) 973-1811 or