SPRINGFIELD, MASS. \u2014 It was a game Bristol Central needed to go through if the squad hopes to cut some nets down in March. The Rams were playing against a physical team in a hostile road environment, a near sellout crowd and in a venue that means a lot to the sport of basketball. No, it wasn\u2019t the Mohegan Sun Arena, but it was in the city where the sport was born. It was a test Bristol Central passed \u2014 but it was not easy. Bristol Central, the No. 1 team in the GameTimeCT Top 10 poll, hung on to defeat Springfield Central 53-44 at Blake Arena on the campus of Springfield College Friday night. It was a part of the HoopHall Classic that runs through Monday. \u201cI told my guys when we came out here, \u2018This would be a game of men, see who were men tonight,\u2019\u201d Bristol Central coach Tim Barrette said. \u201cWith that being said, my guys withstood that, took the initial punch from them and pretty much held the lead throughout. \u2026 Game like this, you can\u2019t replicate this. This is why we wanted the opportunity to play today in the HoopHall.\u201d The Rams (8-0) were able to withstand the comeback by Springfield Central (4-1) with senior center Donovan Clingan in foul trouble. He sat for brief periods in their third and fourth quarters. Clingan, the 7-foot-2 UConn commit, still managed to come up with a triple-double (24 points, 16 rebounds, 10 blocked shots). \u201cWe prepared hard for this week. Just the opportunity to play here means a lot,\u201d Clingan said. \u201cNinety percent of (the fans) were all going against me. I heard stuff I haven\u2019t heard before from the fans. I have to get used to it.\u201d Steve Alseph added 12 points for the Rams, who have the state\u2019s longest winning streak at 23 games. They snapped Springfield Central\u2019s winning streak at 29 games, which began in 2019. \u201cLuckily tonight, they pulled it out. Our guys showed some toughness against a really good Central team,\u201d Barrette said. \u201cTo hold them to 46 points, they came in here averaging something like 88 points per game, I couldn\u2019t be happier with the defensive effort.\u201d This is just Springfield Central\u2019s second game since Dec. 17 due in part to COVID-19 protocols \u201cWe haven\u2019t lost around here too much,\u201d Springfield Central coach William Watson said. \u201cWe\u2019ve had two practices in the last three weeks. \u2026 We played hard, dove for loose balls. When we play like that, I\u2019m happy. I\u2019m more upset when we win and don\u2019t give that effort.\u201d Bristol Central had as much as a 19-point lead (37-18) early in the third quarter. Springfield Central chose to clamp down on Clingan, allowing the others to take \u2014 and make \u2014 wide-open jump shots. Bristol Central shot 48.4 percent from the floor in the first half and took a 32-16 lead to the locker room. Despite all of the defensive attention, Clingan had a double-double (12 points, 10 rebounds) by halftime. Clingan picked up his second and third fouls inside of 1 minute and came out of the game with 4:34 left in the third. The Rams turned the ball over three straight times against Springfield Central\u2019s full-court pressure defense (22 turnovers overall). Springfield Central got the lead down to 11 and Clingan re-entered the game with 1:46 left in the third quarter. \u201cThat was the first time this season we faced pressure like that. We had a lot of turnovers. The crowd was loud,\u201d Alseph said. Clingan picked up his fourth foul with 6:26 left and sat for a brief period. Springfield Central had a free throw, basket and a steal in succession. Then two more free throws after the steal to make it 42-35. But the closest Springfield Central came was six points. Clingan and Alseph combined on the last 10 points for Bristol Central. \u201cThere is no team athletic like they are in Connecticut. They are physical,\u201d Clingan said about Springfield Central.