BRISTOL - The Bristol Eastern boys basketball team took a one-point lead into the fourth quarter against Maloney, but were unable to bring home the win at the end.
Led by a 10-point fourth quarter by Vincent Martinez, the Spartans edged out the Lancers 50-47 Monday night.
Maloney took a five-point lead with four minutes left before a floater from Elijah Parent cut it to three and a drawn charge by Jordyn Tate kept it there. A free throw from Tyler Donahue brought the Lancers within two, Garrison Kunst hit two free throws on the ensuing possession.
Both teams traded shots early in the fourth quarter as Martinez hit threes on each of the Spartans’ first two possessions. The Lancers answered back with scoring possessions of their own, highlighted by an and-one from Elijah Borgelin.
“We were playing such great half court defense,” head coach Bunty Ray said. “We knew that our offense and our misses and some of our shots led to run-outs for them. So our run-outs led to easy baskets, although even with those, I thought we contested them, I thought we worked extremely hard, the ball just didn’t bounce our way.”
Eastern maintained its one-point lead in the third quarter with strong defensive play. Martinez scored only three of his game-high 28 points in the period as the Lancers proved they could score inside the three-point arc. In a perfectly executed press break, Parent found Jordyn Tate with a diagonal pass on a cut to the basket for an easy layup.
The Lancers offense struggled to create shots early in the game as they adapted to Maloney’s three-quarter-court press and trapping zone defense, which held them to two made field goals in the quarter. Parent hit his first of five three-pointers in the game to go along with a second-chance layup from Bryce Curtin.
“I thought we handled the press well all night,” Ray said. “We didn’t really turn it over against the press all that much. It led to easy baskets for us, the kids executed well. We wanted to create mismatches, we screened the top of one-three-one [zone defense], we were able to advance the ball. Some decisions were a little slower and once we picked up the game speed a little bit we did a great job scoring baskets and taking the lead.”
The Spartans built their lead by double-teaming Eastern ball handlers around the mid-court line and forcing turnovers that created easy layups.
Accurate shooting narrowed the gap with an 11-2 run to start the second quarter to tie the game at 17. Parent added two more threes during the run as well as a third from Trini Otero from straight away to make the game even. The Lancers took their first lead of the game just before halftime when Otero connected with Parent in the right corner on a fast break for an open three.
The Lancers will stay at home for their next matchup when they face Avon on Thursday at 6:45 p.m.
They hosted the Falcons on Dec. 30 in the championship game of their holiday classic and won 59-57 thanks to a pair of free throws from Elijah Borgelin with 5.1 seconds remaining.