Eastern girls hold off Central in thriller

The second game of this season’s city series between the Bristol Eastern and Bristol Central girls basketball teams was a thriller.

The Lancers watched a good look from the Rams bounce off the rim just before the buzzer, then celebrated a 52-51 win in front of a boisterous home crowd in the Thomas M. Monahan Gymnasium. Eastern finished the regular season at 15-5 while Central wound up at 10-10.

The Lancers trailed the Rams, 51-50, with 54.6 seconds to play in the game. Eastern had the ball in the corner opposite its own bench when Leah Roy inbounded to Vanessa Drury. Drury gave it back to Roy, who passed it to Amanda Noel at the top of the key. Noel passed to Drury, who had cut under the hoop from the left wing to the right wing. Noel fed Autumn Udoh with a nice entry from the wing, and Udoh powered up for a basket and a 52-51 lead with 42.5 ticks on the clock.

Central, which battled back from an 11-point first quarter deficit, still had a chance to win. The Rams had the ball in front of the Lancer bench with 4.6 seconds left. Leilani Jackson-Mills inbounded to Olivia Louis. Louis dribbled to the top of the key, then passed back to Jackson-Mills on the left wing. Jackson-Mills corralled the pass, then fired up a long shot. The shot hit off the rim and fell harmlessly to the floor.

Central was down 11 points, 18-7, with 1:11 left in the first quarter. The Rams used an 18-6 run to forge a 25-24 lead with 2:30 left in the second quarter. The teams went into halftime tied, 29-29. Central led by four points at 33-29 and 36-32 before Eastern used an 8-2 burst to snatch a 40-38 lead, the last two points on a pair of free throws from Noel with 33.3 seconds left in the third quarter. The Rams evened the game at 40-40 and that’s where it remained entering the fourth quarter.

With the win, Eastern completed a sweep of the city series. The Lancers won, 58-43, at Central on Jan. 18.