Central boys survive Wilbur Cross in OT

The Bristol Central boys basketball team hadn’t trailed beyond the first quarter all season, until Wednesday night at the Floyd Little Athletic Center.

Wilbur Cross, once ranked in the Top 10 in the state, gave an effort that legendary former Cross coach Robert Saulsbury had to be proud of and pushed Central to its absolute limit. The Rams and Governors ended up needing overtime to settle things in the final game of the Robert Saulsbury Invitational, and the Rams got out of New Haven with a 71-59 win.

Central improved to 14-0 with its 29th straight victory overall, but this win was one of the closest of the entire run. Senior star and UConn commit Donovan Clingan finished with a strong triple-double of 29 points, 24 rebounds and 12 blocked shots, according to John Pierson of WTNH.

Central trailed Cross, 35-29, at halftime. The Governors got the first points of the third quarter, then the Rams ripped off a 13-0 run. Central was able to slow the pace of the game, which favored Cross in the first half, and led, 49-42 after three quarters.

Anyone who thought the Rams had the game in the bag underestimated the Governors. A 9-2 run by Cross brought a tie game, 51-51, with less than four minutes to play in regulation. Damion Glasper made two free throws after a technical foul was called at the 2:47 mark, then Clingan made a basket for a 55-51 lead. The Governors came back to lead, 56-55.

Central led by three points in the waning moments, then nearly gave the game away to Cross. A free throw, offensive rebound off a missed free throw and resulting putback tied the game, 59-59. The Governors wound up with a chance to win but a long final shot hit off the backboard, sending the game to overtime.

In overtime, it was all Central. Glasper’s opening 3-pointer gave the top-ranked Rams a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. Glasper finished with a terrific 21 points while Steve Alseph Jr., Victor Rosa and Carson Rivoira added seven points apiece. There were a couple great second and third-effort baskets by Clingan, Alseph and Rivoira.

This game will not be Central’s last challenge of the regular season. The Rams host Windsor next Thursday in the Charles C. Marsh Gymnasium at 6:45 p.m. The game was originally scheduled for the XL Center, which would have been great, but it was moved because of fans needing to show vaccination status or a negative test in the past 72 hours. That’s according to a story from Mike Letendre of The Bristol Edition. Central coach Tim Barrette told Letendre: “That’s impossible to run for a high school venue. They don’t have the staff.”

The game being at Central means a smaller crowd, but the Ram home games have been livestreamed on YouTube, so that could provide another way to see the action.

Photo caption: Bristol Central’s Damion Glasper, right, hit a 3-pointer to begin overtime against Wilbur Cross on Wednesday night and wound up with 21 points in the 71-59 overtime win. (Copyright, Sports on CT-69, file)