BRISTOL â€• When Plainville boys basketball won its season-opener against Bristol Eastern 49-30, the Blue Devils dominated both sides of the ball over an inexperienced team.
Since then, Plainville is 1-8 and most recently allowed Bristol Eastern to enact revenge with a 58-53 overtime win Monday. The Blue Devils were missing senior Cameron Lamothe, who controlled the paint in the first meeting between the two teams.
Lamothe scored 15 points in Plainvilleâ€™s inaugural win of the season and overpowered the Lancers on the inside. Without him, the Blue Devils were forced to focus more on their guard play against a healthier and more experienced Bristol Eastern team than they faced in the first matchup.
Plainvilleâ€™s ball-handlers had to make decisions in a half-court offense and struggled with giving the ball away to the defense. The team finished with 22 turnovers and gave the game away in overtime for its third loss in a row.
â€śThe bottom line is we just turned the ball over [too much],â€ť head coach Scot Wenzel said. â€śFor us, itâ€™s not about how many good plays we make, itâ€™s about how few bad plays we make and weâ€™re making bad plays. Thereâ€™s no such thing as a good turnover, but we turned the ball over way too much.â€ť
Plainville scored the first six points of the overtime period in this game on a pair of back-to-back threes, but added one more point in the remainder of the game as turnovers allowed Bristol Eastern to get back in front.
The Blue Devils gave the ball away just after crossing midcourt with a three-point lead and gave up a layup on the other end that brought Eastern within one point. As the game entered its final minute, Plainville struggled to move the ball up the court and gave the Lancers extra possessions that allowed them to take the lead and put the game away.
â€śWe have to be smarter with the ball,â€ť Wenzel said. â€śWe canâ€™t panic in tight situations. Itâ€™s something that we have to continue to work on.â€ť
Not having Lamothe hurt on the offensive end, but the Blue Devils made up for this absence. His inside presence and rebounding were more noticeably missed as Eastern had a response for all of the mistakes made in mid-December.
â€śCam Lamothe is a big part of our team and not having him out there is a big loss,â€ť Wenzel said. â€śHeâ€™s a big body and he rebounds for us and he scores for us so not having him out there hurt, but I thought other guys stepped up.â€ť
Forced to move the ball around the outside, creating easy scores from near the basket were not coming often for the Blue Devils without Lamothe inside. They found some success running backdoor cuts that snuck behind Easternâ€™s zone defense, but did not have a consistent method of getting close-range opportunities.
â€śWe didnâ€™t want to take quick shots,â€ť Wenzel said. â€ś[We wanted] to use our sets to get easy shots and we did get some easy ones, but unfortunately not enough. Down at the end, we had a couple of opportunities to put them away and we didnâ€™t.â€ť
Now with four losses by six points or fewer this season, Plainville is showing it is a few bounces from having a more positive outlook on the rest of the season. Cleaning up the turnovers will be crucial to picking up more wins in the second half of the schedule as the team can still qualify for the state tournament.
Matt Hornick can be reached at (860) 973-1811 or firstname.lastname@example.org