Central girls sweep Eastern for first time since 1999-2000 season

The Bristol Central girls’ basketball team did something Monday night that it hadn’t done since 1999-2000.

The Rams beat city rival Bristol Eastern, 43-38, in the Charles C. Marsh Gymnasium, and completed their first season sweep of the Lancers since the last two years of Bill Clinton’s presidency. Central capped a terrific regular season with a 15-5 record. Eastern finished 10-10.

Lelani Jackson erupted for 17 points and Nicole Riemer added 13 for the Rams. Ariana Rivera provided eight points in support of Jackson and Riemer. Vanessa Drury had a game-high 19 points while Taigan Parent added 15 for the Lancers.

The score of the second game was nearly identical to the first meeting of a month ago, which Central won, 42-38, on Jan. 16 in the Thomas M. Monahan Gymnasium. The Rams were down two starters in that first game and still managed to win. On Monday, the Lancers trailed by 11 points early, then trimmed the deficit to three, 36-33, with just over three and a half minutes left in the game. Like the first meeting, Central did what it had to do to close the game out and earn its historic sweep of Eastern.

Next up for both teams is the postseason. Central is the No. 5 seed and hosts No. 12 Avon at 6 p.m. on Thursday in a CCC tournament first round matchup. Eastern is the No. 16 seed and plays at top-seeded Newington, also Thursday at 6 p.m.

While this season isn’t over, it’s worth pointing out the future that possibly awaits both programs. The Rams honored their lone senior, Kaley Laird, before Monday’s game. The Lancers did the same for their lone senior, Parent, before a 44-17 win over Plainville on Feb. 9. You read that right. Central and Eastern both have just one senior on the roster. 

The two biggest scorers for the Rams on Monday were the sophomore Jackson and the freshman Riemer. Rivera is just a junior. Other contributors included junior Brooke Watson and sophomore Callie Lodovico.

The second-highest scorer for the Lancers on Monday was the junior Drury. Eastern has a talented freshman of its own in Autumn Udoh, the younger sister of former St. Paul standout Jade Udoh. The Lancers also had junior Lauren Ayotte, plus sophomores Amanda Noel and Leah Roy.

It remains to be seen what Central and Eastern will do in this postseason, but the future looks really bright.

Caption: Senior Kaley Laird and the Bristol Central girls’ basketball team swept Bristol Eastern for the first time since the 1999-2000 season. (Credit: Pete Wininger, Bristol Central principal, via Twitter)