BRISTOL - For the first time in more than two years, the Plainville boys basketball team has itself a winning streak.
A hard-fought, back-and-forth affair came down to the waning minutes of the fourth quarter, before the Blue Devils’ defense dug deep and held on for a 64-57 win at Bristol Eastern, the team’s second-straight victory.
“It’s been a long time,” Plainville head coach Jim DiNello said of his team’s two-game winning streak. “It sounds cliché, but we’re always just trying to win one in a row, and worrying about that next game.”
It didn’t come easy. A six-point lead turned to just three after a pair of missed free throws, a Lancers 3-pointer and a five-second violation on the ensuing inbounds play with just 30 seconds left. After a stop on defense, Plainville was able to settle its nerves and sink a pair of big free throws to make it a two-possession game.
Earlier in the quarter, the Lancers were storming back from a double-digit deficit before Plainville’s Sam Lestini drew a pair of charges to regain control. The two forced turnovers were part of Lestini’s monster night that finished with 16 points on 8-of-10 shooting.
“You’re gonna look at the book and see all those points by Sam, but him taking those two charges are going to be the plays of the game,” DiNello said. “Those charges went very far in us getting this win.”
The Blue Devils raced out to a 14-7 lead thanks to eight early points from Lestini, who started the game shooting 5-for-5 from the field, doing the majority of his damage in the paint.
“I knew we needed to start off hot to keep our momentum going and get a win,” Lestini said. “I just did what I had to do and took what they were giving me.”
Javon Paradis came off the bench for Plainville in the second quarter and promptly drilled a three to stretch the Blue Devils’ lead to six, forcing a timeout from Bristol. It wouldn’t cool down Paradis, who came out of the timeout with four more points, sandwiched by a steal on the defensive end to give Plainville a 10-point advantage, its largest of the night.
Paradis’ hot hand ignited an 11-2 run for Plainville to start the second quarter, but Bristol Eastern’s Dylan Woodsome drained consecutive 3-pointers to get the Lancers right back within striking distance, and Eastern eventually tied the game late in the first half.
The Lancers continued connecting from downtown to open the gates in the second half, drilling a pair of threes to quickly claim the lead. The triple from Jachyrus Lawrence-Bynum to give the Lancers the edge was his fourth of the game, part of a 10-2 Lancers run to start the second half.
“He was a lightning rod,” DiNello said. “He has unlimited range. Sometimes our kids don’t believe it until a guy’s got nine points on three threes.”
Lawrence-Bynum came up big for Bristol Eastern once again in the fourth, connecting on a deep three to tie the game with 5:45 remaining. The teams traded threes on the next three possessions to keep the game knotted at 51, before an elbow jumper from Plainville’s Brady Callahan gave the Blue Devils the narrow two-point edge with just four minutes remaining, as Plainville made their plays in crunch time.
“They came out and made shots,” Bristol Eastern head coach Bunty Ray said. “They had some answers for us. I give them a lot of credit. We made some poor decisions up front … we’re just going to have to work on executing things more properly.”
Dane Stephens scooped up a loose ball and converted big layup with less than two minutes left to stretch Plainville’s lead to four. An inspired defense then stopped the seesaw affair, thanks to Lestini, who paced his ever-improving Blue Devils on both ends of the floor.
PLAINVILLE 64, BRISTOL EASTERN 57
At Bristol Eastern
Plainville 14 16 13 21 - 64
Bristol Eastern 13 14 15 15 - 57
Plainville: Sam Lestini 8-0-16, Pierre Ramirez 0-2-2, Dane Stephens 3-4-12, Brady Callahan 6-0-14, Javan Paradis 4-4-14, Alex Couture 3-0-6. Totals: 24-10-64.
Bristol Eastern: Bryce Curtin 2-1-5, Jahcyrus Bynum 7-0-19, Dylan Woodsome 2-0-6, Elijah Parent 2-0-5, Jordan Tate 2-0-6, Brendon Gayle 5-1-11, Trni Otero 2-0-5. Totals: 22-2-57.
Records: Plainville 5-4, Bristol Eastern 4-4.