Thursday, February 22, 2018

Plantamuro's outside shooting sinks Avon, pushes Central into CCC quarterfinals

This 3-pointer by Noah Plantamuro gave Bristol Central a 41-36
lead after three quarters. It was part of a 15-0 run that put Avon away.
(Copyright, Sports on CT-69)
Throughout Thursday night's CCC Tournament first round game inside Charles C. Marsh Gymnasium, you could hear Avon head coach Kris Pedra yelling "Shooter!"
Pedra was referring to Bristol Central senior sniper Noah Plantamuro. The objective for the Falcons in their zone was to stay close to Plantamuro and not give him good looks.
The Rams used offensive sets, penetration and flat-out good passing to free their sharpshooter, and Plantamuro didn't disappoint, to the dismay of the visitors. Plantamuro sank five 3-pointers, including some back-breakers, on his way to 15 points and fourth-seeded Central (17-4) pulled away for a 60-43 victory over No. 13 Avon.
The Rams will play the winner of No. 5 Middletown and No. 12 Enfield on Saturday at Hartford's Bulkeley High School at a time to be determined. Those two teams saw their matchup postponed to Friday.
Jaekwon Spencer attacked the basket more in the second half and finished
with a game-high 21 points. (Copyright, Sports on CT-69)
Plantamuro's biggest 3-pointer of the night came on Central's last possession of the third quarter. The Rams led 38-36 and ran a play for Plantamuro, who buried a trey in front of the Central bench.
Central scored the last five points of the third quarter, then went for 10 more to start the fourth quarter. The lead was 51-36, and Avon was done.
"You could see the momentum, and it was starting to snowball," Rams head coach Tim Barrette said.
Central "lived and died" by the 3-pointer in a 24-22 first half that wasn't aesthetically pleasing. The Rams played the style the Falcons wanted.
Plantamuro and Jaekwon Spencer (game-high 21 points) helped get Central going in the third quarter, and the Rams built a 41-36 lead entering the fourth quarter. Plantamuro made four 3s in the second half, and Isaiah Miller added a trey in the third quarter.
"In the second half, we hit 3s, but we hit good 3s," Barrette said.
The 3-pointers came in the flow of the offense. The offense was also helped out by Central's defense, which allowed Avon just seven points in the fourth quarter. Stops on the defensive end allowed Spencer to push the ball and get to the basket in transition. Spencer also looked to get into the paint more, which made for driving lanes for himself and open opportunities for others.
"Jaekwon really focused on getting inside, [Alex] Bernier made [a big hoop], and next thing you know we pulled away at the end.
Alex Bernier's role is to provide a spark off the bench, and he had four points in the first quarter, where Central struggled to a 13-13 tie.
Senior stopper Dathan Hickey held Avon's Jordan Williams to 12 points. Blanketing the other team's big scorer has been Hickey's specialty this season, and he has excelled at it.
"What we talked about tonight is knowing your role, and that's his role," Barrette said.
Another role for Spencer was being the ice man at the foul line. Spencer knocked down 5-of-6 free throws in the fourth quarter to help Central put the game away.
Everyone has a role, and there can be a different scorer on any given night.
"It allows you to ride the hot hand," Barrette said. "Most coaches don't have that ability. We right now are eight deep, and we can pretty much ride the hot hand."
Spencer did his usual damage, but Plantamuro was the hot hand that helped the Rams get over the top.

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