HARTFORD - The Spirit of Doc Basketball Classic at Trinity College matched up Bristol Central and Southington boys basketball for both teams’ first game of the season.
The Rams led by four points at halftime, but pulled away later in the game to win 55-29 as their defense played well all game and held the Blue Knights to 11 made field goal. Southington was outscored 29-7 in the second half and made one shot in the third quarter as it failed to finish shot attempts regardless of how open the shooter was.
Sophomore Ryan Hammerlund finished with more than half of the Blue Knights’ points as his three three-pointers anchored a 15-point performance. Hammerlund was the only player on his team to find the basket consistently and his seven consecutive points in the second quarter helped keep the game close early.
Seniors Donovan Clingan and Damion Glasper led the way for Central as the game’s leading scorers with 24 and 16 points, respectively. Glasper posted eight of the Rams’ first 10 points and led all scorers at the mid-game break.
Clingan’s presence on the inside only became more impactful as the contest went on, interfering with nearly all of Southington’s shots at the rim and finishing with 11 rebounds and five blocks. He was named the game’s Most Valuable Player after the final buzzer.
“Damian stepped up big,” Clingan said. “I was getting double and tripled-teamed so having him to step up and find open gaps, cutting to the basket. He scored the first eight points so that’s pretty big.”
Central’s strong defensive effort began at the opening tipoff as it won the first quarter 16-7, the first of three times the Rams held Southington to seven points or fewer in a quarter. They jumped out to a 10-0 lead in the first three minutes of the game as Glasper found the basket from up close and the free-throw line, complemented by an alley-oop dunk from Clingan.
The Blue Knights succeeded in slowing the pace of the game in the first half and found a rhythm in the second quarter as they cut into Central’s lead and won the quarter 15-10. Hammerlund knocked down two triples on his way to seven points in the period and finished a difficult layup that was heavily contested by Clingan.
“We were nats on [Clingan],” Southington Coach John Cessario said. “We had him miss a couple shots and we were able to control a little more tempo. We had some shots from some guys who are just scratching the surface on their abilities, which we’re very grateful for. A 10-0 start obviously doesn’t help us, but these guys persevered, they’re gamers. I thought we defended pretty well in the first half, but then our turnovers in the second half got us [behind], especially in the third quarter.”
The Rams took control of the game in the second half and did so in a familiar fashion: feeding Clingan often to maximize his scoring opportunities. He scored 15 points after halftime and was nearly impossible for Southington to stop without any players of comparable size.
“In the second half I feel like our intensity on defense was pretty high,” Clingan said. “We were getting a lot of steals and turning them into fast breaks, which got us buckets. I feel like we shared the ball pretty well and a lot of people stepped up.”
Central increased the speed of its offense throughout the game, scoring a game-high 19 points in the fourth quarter, but realistically did not need much scoring with the Blue Knights’ struggles to find the basket. Barrette was able to rest his players at the end of the fourth quarter, but not before his starts got to entertain the crowd with an off-the-backboard alley-oop from Steven Alseph to Clingan.
“We played at their pace a little bit until the fourth quarter,” Central coach Tim Barrette said. “Once we get a lead, we need to play with our pace. We let them hang around early because we gave up a couple threes we shouldn’t have and offensive rebounds that kept them in the game.”
Up next for the Rams will be a rematch of last year’s CCC Championship game against East Catholic in The Day Holiday Classic at Mohegan Sun on Monday while the Blue Knights will travel to Windsor the same day.
“If you go up against that kind of talent and that kind of physicality, it’s limitless how much you can grow from a game like this,” Cessario said. “[Bristol Central is] well-schooled, they’re on their way to a very successful and a confident group and we were able to do some things over a 24-minute period that got us where we needed to be.”
Matt Hornick can be reached at (860) 973-1811 or firstname.lastname@example.org
BRISTOL CENTRAL 55, SOUTHINGTON 29
At Trinity College
Bristol Central 16 10 10 19 - 55
Southington 7 15 2 5 - 29
BRISTOL CENTRAL: Damian Glasper 5-6-16, Donovan Clingan 11-2-24, Victor Rosa 1-1-3, Carson Rivoira 3-3-9, Mason Stokes 1-0-3. Totals 21-12-55.
SOUTHINGTON: Ryan Hammerlund 6-0-15, Aiden Buck 1-3-6, Luke Penna 3-0-6, Raysean Epps 1-0-2. Totals 11-3-29.
Three-point goals: Hammerlund (S) 3, Buck (S), Stokes (BC).
Records: Bristol Central 1-0, Southington 0-1.