BRISTOL - The seniors on the Bristol Central girls basketball team were just being born, if that, when the Rams’ began their streak of 32 consecutive losses to crosstown rival Bristol Eastern.
Saturday afternoon, Central put the Lancers’ historic run to rest while keeping another streak alive. The Rams left their home gym with a 55-42 win for their third win in a row and first victory over Eastern since 2004.
Central controlled both ends of the floor for most of the contest and never let the Lancers feel comfortable by challenging them to make difficult plays. The Rams put forth one of their most consistent and well-executed performances of the season behind 25 points from senior Lillian Sirois, who is in her first year with the team.
“I just wanted to win,” Sirois said. “I was tired of hearing about [not winning] since 2004.”
Despite being new to the rivalry, Sirois could not be stopped as she scored from all over the floor and completed three and-ones in the game, one of which was a four-point play. Central’s lead stretched beyond 20 points during the second half as they united to earn head coach Steve Gaudet his first win against Eastern after 16 seasons without success.
“It means everything for them,” Gaudet said. “Forget all the losses, they beat a very good team [Saturday] and they played like they’re capable of playing. That’s what it’s about.”
The Lancers started the game strong and jumped out to an 11-5 lead in the first quarter behind a pair of three-pointers from sophomore Vanessa Drury. They were outscored 13-4 over the remainder of the quarter as the Rams closed the quarter leading 18-15. Central only added to its lead going forward as it held Eastern to a total of nine points over the next two quarters.
“We didn’t play good defense,” Eastern head coach Tony Floyd said. “We didn’t communicate and talk and play like we usually can play. You can do all you can offensively and [still] not make shots, but we didn’t play any defense. You don’t give people 30 points in the first half, that was a lot of points for us.”
The Rams forced the Lancers to use two timeouts in the first three minutes of the second quarter as Central scored the first 12 points of the period. Floyd called the first timeout after his team allowed seven points 90 seconds, and then called the second following the Rams’ next offensive possession when Sirois converted an and-one after she split Eastern’s defense for a contested layup.
Senior Ciara Collins scored Eastern’s lone four points of the second period as Central put most of their defensive focus on slowing her down. She finished with 12 points and was shutout in the third quarter while her teammates also struggled to get shots to fall. The frustration was noticeable for the Lancers, who became more erratic offensively the longer they went without having consistent scoring.
Sophomore Arianna Rivera was responsible for much of the defense on Collins as she compiled a complete effort to secure this win. She played all 32 minutes and embraced the challenge of taking on one of the top scorers in the state while staying equally active on offense. Rivera scored 17 points in the contest, which only trailed Sirois for the game lead.
“We limited their second chances and got some rebounds,” Gaudet said. “We just knew where Collins was and worked our tail off.”
Sirois did not stop attacking after halftime and opened the second half with a quick six points, including her four-point play. The Rams led by 23 points after three quarters as Sirois and Rivera continued to attack the basket and build their lead.
“She kept picking us up as a team and also made all her shots and helped us on defense,” Central senior Ella Watson said.
Eastern’s scoring attack came alive again late in the game and the team had its best offensive quarter of the game, but it did not have nearly enough time to complete the comeback as Central comfortably kept the lead above 10 points. The Lancers started attacking the basket at will and playing with a more frantic pace and saw some of their best scoring output of the day.
“At the end of the third quarter we started doing a better job moving the ball and getting shots,” Floyd said. “The ball started falling and we got some second and third shots in the third and fourth quarters.”
The Lancers will return to the court Tuesday for a home game against Berlin (4-4) while the Rams’ next game is on the road against Tolland (1-9) on the same day.
Matt Hornick can be reached at (860) 973-1811 or email@example.com
BRISTOL CENTRAL 55, BRISTOL EASTERN 42
At Bristol Central
Bristol Central 18 13 16 8 - 55
Bristol Eastern 15 4 5 18 - 42
BRISTOL CENTRAL: Brooke Watson 3-3-9, Lillian Sirois 10-4-25, Arianna Rivera 7-3-17, Callie Lodovico 0-1-1, Ella Watson 1-0-3. Totals 21-11-55.
BRISTOL EASTERN: Ciara Collins 4-4-12, Leah Roy 1-2-4, Taigan Parent 4-0-11, Janessa Gonzalez 1-3-5, Vanessa Drury 4-0-10. Totals 14-9-42.
Three-point goals: Drury (BE) 2, Parent (BE) 2, E. Watson (BC), Sirois (BC).
Records: Bristol Central 3-7, Bristol Eastern 3-5.