BRISTOL - Looking for its eighth win to secure a spot in the postseason, the Bristol Central boys basketball team was in for a gritty game with rival Bristol Eastern visiting Friday night.
With the game tied 24-24 in the third quarter, the Rams had a 30-second four point swing with an offensive rebound put back from Jaekwon Spencer, followed by an Isaiah Miller steal that he took coast to coast for the layup.
The 4-0 run closed out the third with momentum on Bristol Central’s side and the Rams didn’t let off, as four points turned into a 13-2 run.
Its 41-30 win secured a playoff spot for Bristol Central.
“I said to my guys even in our best seasons you’ve got to win games like this,” Rams head coach Timothy Barrette said. “There’s games where you blow people out, there’s games you’ve got to win in the 70s and there’s games where you’ve got to win in the 40s. You never know what style you’re going to play because it varies. But good teams can win with multiple styles of play. And tonight it wasn’t pretty but we got our eighth win and we’re going to the state tournament.”
The first half between the two teams was a grind.
Bristol Eastern’s Camryn Tate was on Spencer and locked him down making him work hard for each basket.
Spencer was held to six points in the first half.
“Cam’s performance was really good,” Lancers senior Tyler Mason said. “He’s a very lengthy player so he can make up a lot of ground with Jaekwon’s height. I think he played very well and very aggressive more than anybody could ask for.”
While Bristol Eastern held the Rams potent offensive attack that averages just over 60 points per game to 14 points in the half, the Lancers couldn’t get any offense going.
Both teams were without key players as Bristol Central was missing big man Alex Bernier and Bristol Eastern was without primary scorer Carter Dziedzic.
Mac Goulet led the Lancers with four points in the first half and his 13 points in the game paced the Bristol Eastern offense.
Goulet’s layup with less than two minutes remaining put the Lancers up 12-11.
For the Rams, Dathan Hickey had two of his four points in the first half. Justus Fitzpatrick knocked down a 3-pointer as the clock ticked down to tie it up at 14-14 going into the locker room.
Coming out of the half the Rams set the tempo and played at a faster pace, something they didn’t do in the first half.
“We just realized that we were running half speed through our cuts,” Bristol Central point guard Isaiah Miller said. “We were not playing hard and they were really just outworking us and out-manning us. We talked to each other and came together and said we were going to have to play better defense and run our offense in the second half and it worked.”
Out of the half, Goulet knocked down a 3-pointer and on the following possession found Mason on a nice cut to the basket for a 5-0 run to begin the third for the Lancers.
Bristol Central’s Alex Lape brought the Rams back within one though with a big offensive board put back and hit the free throw.
Goulet would answer right back with a spin move under the hoop and hit a shot fouling away that went down and he was fouled by Hickey.
After the free throw by Goulet it was 22-18.
Following it Spencer got going on the offensive end and scored 11 of his points from the midway mark in the third quarter on.
Goulet was the offensive spark for the Lancers but it wasn’t enough in a complete effort on both ends for both sides.
Bristol Eastern will host the next meeting between the two at the end of the year.
“When you have kids that work that hard for you my takeaway is what an effort,” Bristol Eastern head coach Bunty Ray said. “If you come to work every day and your kids can do that I want to do better for them. My coaching staff and me are going to work twice as hard now. We’re not going to sit here and say would’ve, should’ve, could’ve. We get to play them again.”
Dan Orencole can be reached at or