Big second half gives Eastern boys a second round win over Pomperaug

The Bristol Eastern boys basketball team faced adversity for the first time in the Division IV state tournament on Wednesday night in the Thomas M. Monahan Gymnasium.

The sixth-seeded Lancers trailed No. 22 Pomperaug-Southbury of the South-West Conference at the end of the first quarter and at halftime in their second round contest. A big second half sparked Eastern to a 66-49 comeback win and a spot in the quarterfinal round against third-seeded Innovation-New Britain. That game is tonight at 7 o’clock at Goodwin Tech, which is also in New Britain.

The Lancers got 22 big points from Jordan Chisholm, including his usual assortment of 3-pointers (five). Once again, Eastern’s attack was balanced with Zaveyn Tate (15 points), Brayden Dauphinais (12) and Lukas Sward (12) joining Chisholm in double figures. Dauphinais connected on three 3-pointers of his own. Eastern (19-5) outscored Pomperaug (11-12), 38-18, in the second half after trailing, 31-28, at halftime.

The Lancers trailed, 16-9, late in the first quarter while Chisholm buried a long 3-pointer from the left wing. Eastern was down six, 31-25, when Tate drove into the paint in the waning seconds of the first half. Tate made his basket and was fouled with 2.1 ticks on the clock. His three-point play sent the Lancers into the locker room trailing, 31-28.

Sward drove the baseline at the start of the third quarter, and his layup brought Eastern to within a point, 31-30, at the 7:19 mark. Less than 30 seconds later, the Lancers had the lead, 32-31, when Tate scored on a drive. A Chisholm 3-pointer gave Eastern another lead, 37-35, with 4:46 left in the third quarter. The Chisholm trey was the start of a 12-0 Lancer burst to close the third quarter as the home side’s defense put the clamps on the visiting Panthers. Tate’s number was called again at the end of the third quarter, and his drive put Eastern ahead, 46-35, after three.

Chisholm hit a big 3-pointer at the 6:47 mark of the fourth quarter to extend the Lancer lead to 49-39. With just over 5:30 to play in the game, Tate drove into the paint, then found Dauphinais for a tough layup and a 51-39 advantage. A Sward finger roll off a nice press break put the capper on a strong comeback victory.

Innovation is the champion of the Capitol Region Athletic League and has had state tournament success in the past, winning a state championship in Division V in 2019. The Ravens beat No. 30 Woodland Regional-Beacon Falls of the Naugatuck Valley League, 70-49, in the first round before dispatching No. 19 Suffield of the North Central Connecticut Conference, 70-62, in the second round.