Blogs >'s Boys Hoops Run to the Sun

Follow all the coverage of boys high school basketball throughout the state on their way to Mohegan Sun Arena, the site of this year's championship weekend, March 15-16.

Friday, March 1, 2013

League tournament predictions, day 5

The final day, lightning round, let's go:

Shoreline final - Valley Regional vs. Old Lyme
Rematch of two seasons ago, a great comeback by Old Lyme, which won in overtime against a heavily-favored Valley squad in a front of a sellout at Old Saybrook High.
The venue is now at the Floyd Little Athletic Center in New Haven. Regardless, valley is once again the big favorite, and this time, the Warriors get it done: Valley Regional

CCC final - Windsor vs. Glastonbury
At Bulkeley, things are coming together for Glastonbury at the right time behind big man Jordan Butler. But Windsor is healthy and playing well. And this is a tournament Windsor normally owns: Windsor.

ECC final - New London vs. NFA
At St. Bernard, not the final I would have expected a month ago. Then again, these two teams have always been among the upper echelon in this league, and New London has owned this tournament in recent years.
Therefore: New London.

Berkshire final: Northwestern vs. Terryville
Will the pressure get to the lone undefeated team in the state? I've seen Northwestern, this team is very experienced and won't fail tonight: Northwestern.

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Video highlights from SWC final

Som pretty good highlights of Bunnell's Matt Nolting and Issac Vann, along with a 28-point effort from Bethel's Dan Garvin at Thursday's SWC final, won by Bunnell: Take a good listen to the video: the student sections will sound like they are right on top of you:


Bunnell wins SWC

Look out Class L: Bunnell is going to be tough out.

Sure, any No. 3 seed SHOULD BE  tough to beat, especially off the SWC title last night against Bethel.

but the Bulldogs have never been to a state final in school. history. Behind SWC tournament MVP Matt Nolting, Issac Vann & Co., they have a shot to do so this month.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

League tournament predictions, day 5

A so-so 36-15 record to this point on league tournament predictions:

ECC Tournament semifinal
No. 1 Ledyard vs. No. 5 NFA: Game was posptoned to today due to a wet floor. My pick stays the same: Ledyard.

FCIAC Tournament final - at Fairfield Warde
No. 2 Trinity Catholic vs. No. Bridgeport Central: Tough one to call. Central is red hot and Trinity has been very good all season long. I'll stay with the hot team: Central.

SWC Tournament final - at Bunnell
No. 1 Bunnell vs. No. 2 Bethel: Bunnell handed Bethel its first loss of the season in convincing fashion on its home floor. A terrfic matchup featuring Issac Vann and Matt Nolting of Bunnell against Bethel's Dan Garvin. Will be closer but result stays the same: Bunnell.

CSC Tournament final - at Floyd Little Athletic Center, New Haven
No. 1 Capital Prep vs. No. 3 Classical Magnet: These two teams have had some classic battles over the past few years. I expect another one, but staying with chalk in the end: Capital Prep.

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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

League tournament predictions, day 4

Not too many games today, but one big one in particular:

NVL final - at Wilby
No. 1 Crosby vs. No. 2 Wilby, 7 p.m.: Two of the best games this season were between these two teams. Wilby won the first one in double overtime at home on Walter Wright's three-pointer; Tyshon Rogers held serve with a deciding basket in the final seconds of overtime just two weeks later.

I don't imagine how much better a third game would be. You know it will be up and down and points will be scored as everyone seems to have the green light. This has been Crosby's tournament since the start up until Watertown took the title a year ago.

The final is held at Wilby each year. This year, it will serve as a crucial home-court advantage: Wilby wins.

CCC semifinals at Bulkeley
Hartford Public vs. Glastonbury, 5 p.m.: Glastonbury
Windsor vs. East Hartford, 7 p.m.: A healthy Windsor squad is a very dangerous Windsor squad. And this is Windsor's time of year: Windsor

ECC semifinals
No. 1 Ledyard vs. No. 5 NFA: Is it Ledyard's time to be the top dog in the ECC? They get to find out on Friday: Ledyard
No. 2 Woodstock Academy vs. No. 3 New London: Woodstock has been one of the state's surprises, even getting some love in the top 10 earlier this season. But I don't think New London is ready to give up its stranglehold on the conference without a fight: New London

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Hillhouse in the rubber match

It was a defensive struggle - or bad offense, take your pick - Tuesday night at TD Bank.

Hillhouse took the title 53-47 in overtime over Fairfield Prep. It was the sixth title for the Academics, tying them with Wilbur Cross.

The Academics trailed the entire fourth quarter until Andre Anderson's driving layup tied the game at 39-39.

Then Hillhouse really turned up the defense...blocking two shots on Prep's final possession to force overtime.

In the four-minute extra session, Hillhouse forced seven turnovers (26 overall). Raiquan Clark was the star, scoring 15 of his 17 points in the fourth quarter and overtime.

Hillhouse held 7-foot center Paschal Chukwu without a field goal. Chukwu finished with eight points,20 rebounds, and 10 blocks. He will be a force in the Class LL state tournament.

What will get lost in the title will be Hilllhouse's own subpar offense: 27 percent overall (17 of 63), including just 2 of 20 from 3-point range. Similar shooting numbers three years ago led North Haven to a stunning upset over the Academics.

So the offense will have to be better than that if Hillhouse wants to return to the Mohegan Sun next month for the Class LL championship final. The only way Hillhouse could see Prep for a fourth time would be at the Sun in the final.

It would be surprising if neither of these teams got there.

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League tournament predictions, day 3

Here we go:

SCC tournament final - at Quinnipiac University
No. 1 Hillhouse vs. No. 2 Fairfield Prep, 7 p.m.: The matchup everyone hoped for and the one both teams predicted would happen again. Both teams are fearless and both teams should be amped up for this matchup. We know the strengths of each team. We know both teams have few weaknesses, if any.

I've gone back and forth all day on this one. I think the difference should be Hillhouse's motivation to avenge their only loss. Prep already did. And the Academics have been here before: Hillhouse in the final seconds.

Shoreline tournament semifinals - at site of higher seed
No. 4 Hyde at No. 1 Valley Regional, 7 p.m.: No one has beaten Valley yet in the league and there's no reason to think anything will change here.
No. 3 Cromwell at No. 2 Old Lyme: Either way, it's a rematch of one of the last two Shoreline Conference tournament finals against Valley. I will go with: Cromwell.

SWC tournament semifinals - at Newtown
No. 2 Bethel vs. No. 3 Notre Dame-Fairfield, 6 p.m.: Bethel beat ND in OT during the regular season. But this is Notre Dame's time of the year normally: Notre Dame.
No. 1 Bunnell vs. No. 4 Kolbe Cathedral, 8 p.m.: Bunnell only won by one last time out. Expect another tight one, and the same result: Bunnell.

FCIAC Tournament semifinals - at Fairfield Warde
No. 6 Wilton vs. No. 2 Trinity Catholic: Wilton i the only team to beat St. Joseph this season and eliminated Westhill in the quarterfinals. But Trinity is simply better: Trinity Catholic.
No. 1 St. Joseph vs. No. 4 Bridgeport Central: This was a tremendous game the first time around. St. Joseph has been arguably the best team in the state over the past three seasons, but hasn't won this tournament. Upset special: Central

CSC tournament semifinals - at Floyd Little Athletic Center, New Haven
Top two seeds move on: No. 1 Capital Prep and No. 2 Kaynor Tech

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An interesting evening in the SCC tournament semifinals

So Fairfield Prep coach Leo Redgate did something I've never seen happen: play his substitutes in a tournament semifinal game for nearly a quarter. It almost cost the Jesuits.
Prep was down 15-0 before Paschal Chukwu, Ryan Murphy and Tom Nolan re-entered the game with 1:23 left in the first quarter; Prep was down to Wilbur Cross 17-1 at the end of the quarter.
Then Prep made its slow climb to what ended up being a 68-59 win and a spot in tonight's SCC championship game against Hillhouse featuring the best two teams in the league all year long and the top two teams in the Register Top 10 poll.
So did Leo Redgate do the right thing? He did by those seniors who obviously mean a lot to him to play them in such a big spot. He would've been second-guessed by everyone from now until the end of time - not that he cares - if Prep lost.
"Even if we lost the game, I don;t think it would have been the most horrible thing to happen to the Fairfield Prep basketball program," he said. "I would go to the mat with any of these guys and if we lost because of it, then so be it. If they are going to fire me, they can fire me."
And since he said he wasn't trying to discipline the trio of starters - he said as much after the game - then I guess we have to take him at his word. But he indirectly took a shot at the SCC tournament.
Because by pulling off this stunt, he basically is using the league tournament as a practice for the state tournament. Most coaches would tell you the same thing, that the state tournament carries more weight than the league tournament, and they would all be correct.
Would Redgate do this in the Class LL tournament? I doubt it. He knows that loss would be his last for the season. By doing it in this tournament, he still has the bigger one ahead of him.
So, in my opinion, doing what he did not only was a nice thing to do for those seniors, it also belittled the importance of the SCC tournament. You can make the argument he made a mockery of it.
I wonder what others are thinking today about it. Let me hear from you (, @nhrJoeMorelli on Twitter).

But this reflects even worse on Cross. The Jesuits outplayed the Governors, but those who were there will not only remember Redgate starting his subs for almost seven minutes, but also how Cross couldn't make Prep pay for it.
Josh Fleming did all he could to get Cross over the top - he finished with a game-high 33 points. But no one else had more than 11. And the Governors failed to impose their collective will on what is a much better basketball team than Cross is.
Yes the game was called tightly by the veteran group of officials Pat Paulson, Mike Gambardella and Mike Scanlon. And it's clear Cross coach Kevin Walton was frustrated with how it was officiated.
“I think our kids made enough plays to win this game, and that is where the game should be decided, with the kids," Walton said afterwards.
But the officials didn't shoot 10 of 22 from the line - Cross did. And the refs didn't let Nolan and Murphy cut down the lane for multiple baskets in the second half, either.

This was one of the more bizarre games - and exciting for a lot of reasons - I have ever seen in 20 years of covering high school sports. I wonder what the SCC championship game will bring.

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Sunday, February 24, 2013

League tournament predictions - round two

Monday's action should be pretty good. We will see if the predictions are just as good:

SCC tournament semifinals - at East Haven
No. 2 Fairfield Prep vs. No. 3 Wilbur Cross, 6 p.m.: First matchup of the season between these two teams. Cross will try to be very physical with the Jesuits. Will be interesting to see how many shots Paschal Chukwu can block - and if he picks up fouls in the process. This game will be close, but Prep has more answers on offense: Prep by single digits.
No. 1 Hillhouse vs. No. 4 Notre Dame-West Haven, 7:45 p.m.: Notre Dame has had a couple of terrific comebacks the last two days - rallying to beat Amity in overtime in the quarterfinals Saturday (pictured above), falling short to Stratford in a makeup game Sunday. How much do the Green Knights have left? An upset under normal circumstances would be asking a lot - Hillhouse.

NVL tournament semifinals - at Wilby
No. 6 Watertown vs. No. 2 Wilby, 5 p.m.: Jon Mitchell and Ed Hill are two great players, but this is a tough spot for the defending champs against Walter Wright and Co. - Wilby.
No. 4 Wolcott vs. No. 1 Crosby, 7 p.m.: Wolcott's Mike Bozzuto vs. Crosby's Tyshon Rogers is your matchup of stars. But before Watertown won it last yera, Crosby owned this tournament: Crosby.

CCC tournament quarterfinals
#4 New Britain vs #5 Hartford Public at Bulkeley, 5 p.m.: New Britain in a close game
#1 Simsbury vs #8 Glastonbury at Bulkeley, 7 p.m.: It's been an impressive season for Simsbury, earning the top seed ahead of plenty of very solid programs. One of those is Glastonbury and Jordan Butler and Company move on by a whisker: Glastonbury.
#3 East Hartford vs #6 Bloomfield at Maloney, 5 p.m.: East Hartford loses Cane Broome to prep school and still is among the best programs in the CCC: East Hartford.
#2 Windsor vs #10 Newington at Maloney, 7 p.m.: Windsor is healthy now: Look out: Windsor.

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