PLAINVILLE - Caitlin Barker is back, and she has made her presence known.
Back from an season-ending ACL tear suffered in the fourth game last season, Barker scored a game-high 34 points to lead the Plainville girls basketball team past Bristol Eastern 61-55 Thursday night.
“[Barker] is an intramural part of our team,” Blue Devils head coach Jessica Neuweller said. “Having her back is phenomenal. On Monday she started off the season with 27 points, had a great game tonight. I think the biggest thing about Barkery is the passion she plays with.”
In the first quarter, both teams traded points back and forth. It wasn’t until midway through the second quarter when Bristol Eastern took a four-point lead and went into the half leading 27-23.
“It was our first game [of the season] we came out a little sluggish but I thought we did a good job,” Bristol Eastern head coach Tony Floyd said. “What happened was we got in foul trouble the first half so we weren’t able to do what we could do best.”
The Lancers were able to hold the lead for most of the third quarter, but then fell into foul trouble. Three rounds of foul shots later and the Blue Devils were trailing by just a single point.
But then the Lancers were brought to the foul line. Meredith Forman gave Bristol Eastern a bit of insurance as she sank back-to-back baskets.
Then not even a few second later, Forman found herself back on the foul line, sinking two more and Eastern led 37-30.
The Blue Devils found momentum in the last standing minutes of the third quarter, outscoring the Lancers 8-0 to gain the 1-point advantage.
Plainville’s Isabel Lozefski opened up the fourth quarter with a shot from behind the arch to increase the score 41-37, but back-to-back baskets from Forman and Miranda Janick tied the game 41-41.
Forman sank two three-pointers to gain back to the 47-41 lead for the Lancers, but just then Plainville sparked and went on a 7-0 run with less than four minutes left to go in the game.
“Towards the end of the fourth quarter, second, third shot opportunities against their size is what ended up giving them that nudge,” Neuweller said. “You say you can’t teach height, but you also can’t teach heart and my players have heart and I will take that every single day of the week.”
Each team traded baskets but Eastern was unable to take back the lead.
“I thought they were inconsistent in the second half,” Floyd said. “The referees weren’t letting the kids play and I thought that got us in a bit of trouble. We got to a point where I had three of my starters sitting on the bench and I had to play the bottom of my bench. They’re just not ready really right now and I thought that’s when [Plainville] came back and they were able to take advantage of it.”
“We just didn’t play well enough on the board,” Lancers guard Jordan Ouellette added. “We didn’t rebound enough, we didn’t box out, we didn’t get enough offensive rebounds to put us back in the lead.”