Central boys go for back-to-back CCC titles

The top-ranked, top-seeded and undefeated Bristol Central boys basketball team will take aim at its second straight CCC tournament title tonight against second-ranked and second-seeded Northwest Catholic.

The Rams (23-0) and Lions (22-1) tip off at 7 p.m. at what is sure to be a packed Enfield High School. Northwest hasn’t lost a game since the second game of the regular season, a 72-68 defeat against Wilbur Cross during the Doc Hurley Classic at Trinity College in Hartford. Central hasn’t lost a game since the 2019-2020 season. Something has to give.

Central senior superstar center Donovan Clingan is averaging 30.3 points, 18.7 rebounds and 6.3 blocked shots per game in the tournament, according to Michael Letendre of The Bristol Edition. Clingan was of course an All-CCC South Division selection. He was joined by senior teammates Steve Alseph Jr., Damion Glasper and Carson Rivoira. Senior starter Victor Rosa could have been on the team as well.

Central defeated Lewis Mills (66-29), Middletown (73-58) and Windsor (57-37) to reach the CCC tournament final for the second straight season. Clingan hit the game-winning shot in the final seconds to deliver the win for the Rams last year against East Catholic.

Northwest is led by tremendously talented senior Matt Curtis, but the Lions also have a whole bunch of height. There’s 6-foot-9 freshman Badara Diakite, 6-foot-8 senior Hayden Abdullah and 6-foot-7 sophomore London Jemison. Six-foot-two senior guard Jehyvic Spencer and 5-foot-7 sophomore Gianni Mirabello are quality players as well. Head coach John Mirabello recently picked up his 600th career win.

Northwest defeated Newington (88-65), East Catholic (69-57) and Conard (66-50) to reach the final. Central knocked off Northwest, 71-60, in the semifinals in 2021.

As Letendre noted in his story, a Central win would give the team its first 24-0 start since the 1989-1990 season. That season ended with a Class L state championship. The Rams would love to end this season with CCC and Division II state tournament titles.

Photo caption: Bristol Central’s All-CCC South Division selections (from left to right) – Donovan Clingan, Steve Alseph Jr., Damion Glasper, Carson Rivoira (Credit: Pete Wininger, Bristol Central principal via Twitter)