By MICHAEL LETENDRE
HARTFORD – With its season all but over, the Plainville boys basketball team wanted to end its campaign with a bang on the road.
In fact, the Blue Devils were looking to pull of a bit of an upset in Hartford.
But in a CCC South encounter against Bulkeley from the Babe Allen Field House, Plainville trailed by 24 points midway through the third period before going on a huge run to end the frame.
Pesky Plainville simply wouldn’t go away but in the end, the Bulldogs ran up the score and came away with a 77-48 victory.
Bulkeley finished the regular season at 11-9. Meanwhile, Plainville improved on its 2012-13 record by three games as the Blue Devils ended things with a 3-17 ledger.
Credit belongs to Plainville for never giving up in the game and with a modified line-up, the squad trimmed a two dozen point deficit down to 11 thanks to the power of a 17-4 Blue Devils run.
By the start of the final period, Plainville was trailing by just a 54-43 score and with eight minutes to go, it was anyone’s game.
Bulkeley quickly amped up its defense, started going into its trapping, pressing tactics, and kept Plainville off the board over the final period of play.
“We cut that lead to 11 going into the fourth quarter,” said Plainville coach Marc Wesoly. “They go to that little half-court trap, a turnover over here, a turnover there (and it’s) a lay-up down there (for Bulkeley). That’s what killed us.”
The Bulldogs outscored the visitors 24-6 over the final period to come away with its 29-point victory.
Three days previous, Bulkeley guard Devante Davis came off the bench to score 22 points – all over the final 10:14 of the contest – in Bulkeley’s 54-42 victory over Bristol Eastern in another winning effort.
And against the Blue Devils, it was more of the same.
Davis came off the bench for another 22-point blitzing. Meanwhile, teammates Jashar Haslam (17 points) and Javon Alston (15 points) also did damage as well.
Plainville was down a few warriors but the squad simply never gave up in what turned into an up and down affair early.
Timmy Dixon flipped in 12 points – off four of 11 shooting – to go along with two rebounds while notching two steals.
Matt Festa was a beast on the baseline, nailing jumper after jumper, on his way to a 12 point, four rebound performance.
Festa drilled six of eight field goals.
Meanwhile, two of Plainville’s usual standouts played very well. In his final scholastic contest, Eric Fischer just missed a double-double with nine points and ten rebounds. Meanwhile, Austin Butler added 11 points, seven rebounds, and a couple of assists in the game.
Andrew Schumann earned the start and collected two points and eight rebounds. Meanwhile, Mike Munson also started and had a steal and rebound in the fray.
Keandre Blue (two points), Jaeden Ferrarra, and Jared Demmons all played well. Meanwhile, Jalen Benoit – playing in his final contest for the Blue Devils – also saw court time on the evening.
Bulkeley put the screws to Plainville defensively and collected 18 steals. Meanwhile, forcing 25 turnovers.
The Bulldogs used its superior speed and simply brought in player after player – keeping fresh bodies on the floor at all times – while, zipping up and down the court for quick lay-ups.
“It’s Bulkeley (and) that’s what you’re going to get,” said Wesoly of the squad. “Any time we could, we tried to slow the ball up, slow the ball up. But defensively, they go trap, trap, lay-up, lay-up.”
But Bulkeley was on its heels early as Plainville grabbed a lead midway edge during first quarter action.
Down by four, Plainville used a 6-0 spurt to capture the lead as Fischer hit a free throw. Meanwhile, Dixon nailed five straight points, including a three-pointer, as the Blue Devils went in front 6-4 with 2:38 left in the frame.
But Davis scored seven points of Bulkeley’s blazing 15-4 push as a late Davis three-pointer made it a 19-10 game in the home team’s favor after one period of action.
Bulkeley continued to keep the pressure on, hitting Plainville with an 11-4 run as a lay-in by Brandon Williams made it a 30-14 contest with 3:32 left before the half.
Fischer and Festa hit late shots in the second period but even with the added offense, Bulkeley’s edge reached 42-22 by halftime.
Things went from bad to worse to open the third stanza as a three-point from Haslam and a lay-up by Javon Alston pushed the home squad’s cushion to 49-25 with 4:24 remaining in the quarter.
But Plainville used its 17-4 run to make it a game again.
Butler hit all of his 11 points during the jaunt, which included a nifty three-point bomb off a feed from Dixon, as Plainville ended the burst with another Dixon three-pointer making it a 54-43 game.
Plainville trailed by just 11 with eight minutes to go and the Bulldogs earned the ire of its coach, Lou Papenna, during the timeout between the periods.
But two quick Bulkeley hoops to open the fourth steadied the home squad and even as Festa hit yet another baseline jumper, the Bulldogs knocked the visitors out of the game.
Off the power of a 20-4 game ending run, Bulkeley finished off Plainville with turnovers – turning steals into baskets – as the Bulldogs earned its 11th victory of the campaign with its 29-point win, 77-48.
Plainville played well despite having to take the floor without some of its starters due to the tomfoolery that transpired after the win at Fermi on Friday, Feb. 21.