Clingan leads No.1 Bristol Central to first title since 1990, beat North West Catholics in Division II Championship

UNCASVILLE — Donovan Clingan chose to turn down prep school openings and instead stayed at Bristol Central, to honor his mother and stay with his senior teammates.

There was another reason Clingan decided to stay home: to win a state championship. Bristol Central has joined the rest of Connecticut without a chance to play for a state title for the past two seasons.

But on Saturday night, in front of 6,232 fans at Mohegan Sun Arena, including his future college coach at UConn, Clingan’s dreams came true: No. 1-ranked Bristol Central won the Division II state championship 56 -36 against the North West Catholic, ranked No. 2.


“I know my mum is proud of me, I know Bristol is proud, the school is proud, I’m proud, the team is proud, I’m so excited. That’s why I stayed at Central,” said Clingan, 7-foot-2.

Bristol Central manager Tim Barrette said: “We were in the dressing room together just him and me before the game, he came in early. He hugged me and said, ‘Coach, one last thing to do together.’ I knew that with him by my side, there was no way we wouldn’t be successful tonight.

Clingan couldn’t even remember how many prep schools inquired about his services, trying to remove him from CIAC ranks. The answer was always the same.

“It was well over 20,” Clingan said. “Schools called me my first year. Every day my dad would say, ‘That prep school called. I don’t care, I’m staying at Bristol Central. Brewster Academy, you name it. I was staying at Bristol Central.

Clingan holds the school’s scoring and rebounding record, the latter belonging to his mother, Stacey Porrini, who died of cancer in 2018.

“I promised my mom I would do this for her,” Clingan said.

Even North West Catholic coach John Mirabello, on the receiving end of two of the Lions’ three defeats to Bristol Central, said he thanked Clingan after the game for staying at Bristol Central.

“It means a lot that these kids stay,” Mirabello said. “How can you replace what he just went through this year? What can a prep school offer better than what he had there? You don’t recover these days.

UConn coach Danny Hurley sat on the court to watch Bristol Central win their first state championship since 1990 and their 43rd game in a row. Clingan impressed as he has throughout his career, finishing with 25 points and 24 rebounds (14 on the offensive side of the court).

“When people expect you to win, and you win? That’s an accomplishment,” Mirabello said. “Everyone like us spends a lot of time in training saying, ‘We can have these guys. We are the ones (who are going to win).’ How about a bad day They took the best shot of everyone.

Clingan finished with 2,268 points, passing Matt Curtis — father of North West Catholic senior guard Matty Curtis — for seventh place on the CIAC’s all-time list.

But Clingan had the help of his classmates. Damion Glasper contributed 15 points, including a long-range 3-pointer from about 35 feet which he swept to end the third quarter and give Bristol Central (28-0) their biggest lead at the time, 39-27 .

It was actually Bristol Central’s only 3-point hit. The two teams were combined 3 for 28 from three.

Victor Rosa, the reigning Gatorade State Player of the Year for football (Clingan is basketball’s two-time winner) had just two points. But that’s the job he did, with help from Carson Rivoira, in the man-to-man run against Curtis, who finished with 15 points on 5-of-18 shooting. The Fairfield-bound guard was the only double-digit player for the Lions.

“He’s a hell of a player,” Rosa said of Curtis. “We studied the film of the last game, how it comes off the screens, how many pulls it takes. … We were well prepared, we knew it was going to be a challenge. The defense wins the ball games.

Said Barrette: “That’s a hell of a defensive effort in a state championship game. We made them work for everything tonight.

Northwest Catholic (25-3), seeking its first state title since 2003, scored 56 points in the CCC tournament final. It was the Lions’ lowest production of the season.

“We haven’t done much on the (offensive) side,” Mirabello said. “They did what they did better than we did what we did. That’s what it’s about. »

Bristol Central only led 22-20 at half-time. The Rams outscored the Lions 17-7 in the third quarter.

It never came close in the final quarter and Clingan was able to walk out of the game with less than a minute left and hugged all of his coaches, then quickly celebrated with his teammates, mission complete.

“It’s the best feeling ever. It’s every high school basketball player’s dream and every high school athlete’s dream to win a state championship. It’s great, especially in a place like this,” Clingan said.

GAME PLAYER

Donovan Clingan, Bristol Central: The senior center capped a spectacular career with 25 points and 24 rebounds and finished with 2,268 career points.

CITABLE

“I’m so proud of the three seniors, Jehyvic (Spencer) Hayden (Abdullah) and Matty (Curtis), all three were the best kids, they set a standard for the younger ones.” – John Mirabello, North West Catholic Coach

BRISTOL CENTRAL 56, NORTH WEST CATHOLIC 36

NORTH WEST CATHOLIC 10 10 7 9
BRISTOL CENTER 10 12 17 17

NORTH WEST CATHOLIC: London Jemison 2 1 0-0 5, Gianni Mirabello 1 1 0-0 3, Matt Curtis 5 0 5-8 15, Hayden Abdullah 1 0 0-0 2, Badara Diakite 3 0 2-2 8, Cavin Pollard 0 0 1 -2 1, Jehyvic Spencer 1 0 0-0 2.

BRISTOL CENTER: Victor Rosa 1 0 0-0 2, Damion Glasper 4 1 6-10 15, Steven Alseph 3 0 0-0 6, Carson Rivoira 2 0 2-3 6, Donovan Clingan 8 0 9-14 25, Aaron Brown 1 0 0 -0 2.

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