BRISTOL - It was a night that saw the Southington boys basketball team start strong, but ended with Bristol Central closing out the game.
Despite the Blue Knights jumping out to a 16-8 lead after the first quarter, the Rams came out with the 56-48 win Tuesday night in the 2nd annual Connor Strong Superhero night.
After Bristol Central’s Isaiah Miller, hit a 3-point shot, the Soutington answered back with a 14-0 run. Andrew Lohneiss scored seven of the Blue Knights’ 16 first-quarter points, while teammate Jeremy Mercier also added five.
But once the second quarter began, the roles reversed and the Rams found themselves in control thanks to a 17-point second quarter.
With 2:34 seconds left in the half, Bristol Central’s Jaekwon Spencer made a basket to pull his team within a point of the Blue Knights. Just 34 seconds later, Miller hit another 3-point shot to take the lead.
“We started out slow,” Miller said. “We just needed to focus and get into our offensives and just keep playing and playing hard. It started on D, we got a few steals, a few good rebounds and sparked our offense, it got us going.”
Miller was the leading scorer of the evening, scoring 18 points, but Lohniess was not far behind, scoring 17 of his own.
The Rams managed to bring the ball to the basket once more before the time would expire and headed into the locker room at half leading 25-21.
After that, Bristol Central never looked back.
Spencer hit back-to-back 3s to start off the third quarter. Lohneiss also hit two 3-point baskets, but it wouldn’t be enough. Despite both teams finishing quarter with 12 points each, the Rams remained in the lead, 37-33.
“It was a tough battle, back and forth,” Southington head coach John Cessario said. “They got the loose balls, we got the loose balls. Before you know it the score seesaws. They made a couple big 3s that really solidified what they needed to do on the perimeter.”
With 5:45 left in the game, Southington put itself back in the game as Timothy O’Shea went 1-for-2 at the foul line to pull the Blue Knights within one.
But that is as close as Southington would get.
“We turned the ball over at two critical times late,” Cessario said. “Whenever you have 10 points weigh, six for them and four that we possibly could have had is a big difference.
“My guys did whatever they had to do to keep it close. We started out terrific and we just didn’t take care of the ball the way we should have.”
The Rams then outscored the Blue Knights 19-15 in the final quarter and 31-27 over the final 16 minutes of play.
“Offensively we weren’t in rhythm in the first quarter,” Bristol Central head coach Tim Barrette said. “But we were able to get some stops defensively and we were able to crawl back into the game and luckily for us, we had a really good second quarter. We took the lead and we never relinquished it by the end of the night.”
Shelby Iava can be reached at (860) 801-5096 or firstname.lastname@example.org