Calling all Bell City basketball fans: Bristol Central needs your support Saturday!

To all of those in Bristol who are basketball fans: Bristol Central boys basketball is looking for your support.

The undefeated, top-ranked and top-seeded Rams (27-0) face second-ranked and second-seeded Northwest Catholic-West Hartford (25-2) in the Division II state championship final on Saturday night at 8:15 at the Mohegan Sun Arena. Central takes aim at its first state championship since its fabled 1989-1990 team beat St. Joseph-Trumbull on Gregory Fradette’s 3-pointer in the final seconds in the Class L final.

“We just wanted an opportunity to play for the state title,” Central coach Tim Barrette said in an interview with various media outlets after the current team’s 54-52 overtime win over Wilton in the state semifinal round. “Obviously we want to win it, but at the same time, we wanted an opportunity to take the floor at Mohegan Sun and I’m hoping, that we write this, that the town comes out to support this team, because there is no better group of kids in this town than the ones playing Bristol Central basketball.”

The Rams are led, of course, by UConn commit and senior 7-foot-2 superstar Donovan Clingan. You know him and you know his exploits. Central, however, has a starting lineup chock full of seniors. They are Clingan, Damion Glasper, Victor Rosa, Carson Rivoira and Steve Alseph Jr.

“We got a bunch of dogs on this team. It’s not really just Donovan,” Glasper said after the Wilton win. “We’ve got a bunch of players on the team. Our team is great, and I love them to death.”

Glasper, Rosa and Alseph are the guards.

“Those guards stepped up big. Steve, Damion, Victor,” Clingan said. “Not even making shots, just moving the ball, getting to the basket, hitting clutch free throws, rebounds, defense, everything. I just couldn’t be prouder of all my guys. I’m happy for everyone.”

Rivoira is a forward while Clingan stands in at center. The five seniors, with help from junior reserves Jason VanBeveren and Tre Blair, were able to hold off a senior-laden Wilton team on Tuesday night at New Haven’s Floyd Little Athletic Center.

“You can’t underestimate the seniors. He had seven seniors on his roster as well, so you had two senior-laden teams going at each other who don’t want to go home,” Barrette said. “Nothing less than a war, but I tell my guys all the time, I’d gladly go to war with my five guys any day of the week.”

The state championship run is something that has been building since before the COVID-19 pandemic began in 2020.

“It’s pretty big,” Glasper said about making the final. “We’ve been dreaming about this for the last three years, since COVID hit. We didn’t get the opportunity sophomore and junior year. This is a big opportunity for us to win, and we hope to get it done.”

It’s also a big moment personally for Barrette and Clingan. Barrette lost his aunt, Sharon Wurzinger, to COVID in late January. Clingan lost his granfather, John Porrini, earlier this month.

“This is a really special game for me, I’ll be honest. Going back to Mohegan,” Barrette said. “I lost my aunt in January. The last thing she did was go to my game (against) East Catholic (on Dec. 20), and the next day she went in the hospital with COVID and never came back out. I’ve made a promise that I would get back there, and she got us through it a little bit. Donovan just recently lost his grandfather. We’re playing with a lot of emotion, and we’ve got a lot of help on our side. With that being said, they got us this far, we’ve got to take care of business on Saturday.”

Central also has seniors Zachary Vanasse and Jelani Walton on its roster. Vanasse and Walton don’t get a lot of playing time or garner the headlines like their teammates do, but they put in the hard work in practice so the Rams can be at their best.

Central wants to finish off an incredible season with an undefeated record and state championship, but they need the help of the City of Bristol to do it. Mohegan Sun Arena is located at 1 Mohegan Sun Blvd. in Uncasville. Tickets can be purchased here. You would be purchasing tickets for the second session on Saturday.

GALLERY: Here are my photos from Tuesday night’s state semifinal game.

Photo caption: Bristol Central seniors Carson Rivoira, Victor Rosa (3) and Donovan Clingan all have their eyes on an undefeated season and Division II state championship. The Rams play Northwest Catholic on Saturday night at the Mohegan Sun Arena. (Copyright, Sports on CT-69)