Monday, February 29, 2016

CIAC state tourneys up next for Kennedy and Wolcott

Saturday didn't go the way No. 3 Kennedy wanted, and the same goes for No. 8 Wolcott. Both teams were knocked out of the NVL Tournament in quarterfinal round games at Wilby High School. A quick look at what happened:

Kennedy, lost 65-61 to No. 6 Wilby
Both teams won during the regular season on their own home floors, and that trend continued Saturday, even though Wilby is a neutral site for the tournament. Jai'Vaun McKnight had a game-high 31 points for Kennedy, but it wasn't enough. Darryl Flowers spent much of the day in foul trouble, tallied just five points, and fouled out. Victor Sampson fouled out after tallying just six points. The second-leading scorer for the Eagles was Chomari Joseph with eight points.
Kennedy led 15-4 in the first quarter, but saw that lead trimmed to seven by the end of the opening eight minutes. The Eagles led 29-24 late in the half, but the Wildcats scored eight of the final 10 points to led 32-31 at the break. Kennedy still trailed 46-44 after three quarters, then finally caught Wilby at 51-all on a McKnight tip-in a little over three minutes in. The Eagles were still in the game, down 64-61 with 3.7 seconds left, but Dimitri Yates put it out of reach with a foul shot.
AS OF NOW: Kennedy is the No. 9 seed in Class LL (15-5 regular season record) and would host No. 24 Cheshire (10-10) in the first round.

Wolcott, lost 84-40 to No. 1 Sacred Heart
It was a long shot, but the Eagles wanted to take their best shot at the Hearts. Wolcott trailed 17-6 after one quarter, but saw the deficit grow to 16 by the half. Sacred Heart ran away with the second half and sent Wolcott packing.
Shamari Thomas led the Eagles with 14 points. Chris Maisto and Pat Drewry each scored six points while Matt Finke tallied five points.
AS OF NOW: Wolcott is the No. 18 seed in Class M (12-8) and would go to Danbury to play No. 15 Abbott Tech (13-7) in the first round.

The official seeds are released on Wednesday at noon by the CIAC. 

NVL boys hoop tourney: Saturday's winners and what's next

Wilby -- No. 6 seed, won 65-61 over No. 3 Kennedy
In the rubber game of a three-game set between the rivals, the Wildcats pulled out a win over the Eagles in the second quarterfinal of the day inside the Reggie O'Brien Gymnasium at Wilby High School.
Dimitri Yates hit one of two from the foul line in the final seconds to seal the game. Yates ended up second on the team in scoring with 13 points.
"Basically, we just needed one," Yates said. "That definitely eased some stress off of us."
For Wilby, it was all about coming out and working hard. The start of the game didn't go their way with the Eagles jumping out to a 15-4 lead. The Wildcats battled back to 17-10 after one quarter, then rallied further for a 32-31 halftime lead.
Neither coach seemed particularly happy headed into the halftime break, but Wilby came out ready to go in the second half.
"We've always been a second half team throughout the whole season," Yates said.
That trend continued for the Wildcats, especially for Damian Grant. Grant powered his way to 14 of his team-high 18 points in the second half, including 10 over the final eight minutes.
Desire is what won Wilby this game.
"We just got to keep working," Yates said. "You can't let up, especially with these city teams. We all want to win."
Up next: No. 2 Crosby in the NVL semifinals today at 5 p.m., also at Wilby

Crosby -- No. 2 seed, won 78-60 over No. 7 Watertown
The Bulldogs didn't play particularly well in the first half against the Indians and held just a 32-28 lead after the opening 16 minutes. Things certainly changed in the second half for Crosby, which pulled away and became the first higher seed to win on Saturday. Jeremiah Kendall led a balanced Bulldog attack with 21 points. Daniel Jones had 17, Roary Jadusingh 16, Jordan Booker 11 and Daquan Sinisterra 8 for Crosby.
Up next: No. 6 Wilby in the NVL semifinals today at 5 p.m., at Wilby 

Holy Cross -- No. 5 seed, won 69-55 over No. 4 Ansonia
What a difference a few days makes. The Crusaders lost their regular season finale at Ansonia, then came back Saturday to dump the Chargers in the first game of the NVL quarterfinals.
Nyzair Rountree scored 19 points to lead the way, but he had plenty of help. Justin Strielkauskas had 17 points and Jonathan Mowatt came back from injury to help Holy Cross get over the top. 
The Crusaders won every quarter and earned a trip to the semifinals. 
Up next: No. 1 Sacred Heart in the NVL semifinals today at 7 p.m., at Wilby

Sacred Heart -- No. 1 seed, won 84-40 over No. 8 Wolcott 
The Eagles hoped to shock the world in Saturday's final game, but the Hearts quickly showed that they had other ideas. Sacred Heart steamrolled its way to another win, although it was a sloppy one. The Hearts led 38-22 at the half, then buried the Eagles in the second half.
Mustapha Heron had 28 points to pace the Hearts. Tyrn Flowers added 24, Charles Fisher 11, Mikey West 8 and Raheem Solomon 7. 
Up next: No. 5 Holy Cross in the NVL semifinals today at 7 p.m., at Wilby 

Wilby 79, Crosby 77, Dec. 30 at Crosby
Crosby 69, Wilby 68, Feb. 16 at Wilby

Sacred Heart 77, Holy Cross 65, Jan. 29 at Sacred Heart
Sacred Heart 101, Holy Cross 66, Feb. 16 at Holy Cross 

Friday, February 26, 2016

Push-Ups for Patriots at Bristol Central this weekend

There will be something special going on at Bristol Central High School this weekend.
For 24 hours beginning at 9 a.m. Saturday, there will be push-ups, and push-ups, and more push-ups.
"In this 2nd annual event, participants will perform 10 push-ups per minute every minute for 24 hours AND run the length (down & back) of the basketball court every minute for 24 hours," reads a post about the event on the Semper Fi Fund website.
In the first year of the event, there were 15,580 push-ups completed and 50 miles run.
Why is this event being held? 
Organizer and BC teacher Ryan Broderick put it this way:
"Push-Ups for Patriots Feb. 27-28," Broderick wrote on Twitter earlier this month. "Save the date as we offer support and make small sacrifices for real heroes!"
This is what the Semper Fi Fund does:
"The Semper Fi Fund and America's Fund provide immediate financial assistance and lifetime support to post 9/11 wounded, critically ill and injured members of all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces, and their families, ensuring that they have the resources they need during their recovery and transition back to their communities. We work to ensure that no one is left behind."
It's a powerful message, and helping out veterans is something that should be an absolute priority in this country. People at Bristol Central will be doing their part on Saturday and Sunday.

St. Paul boys hoop family looking to help one of its own

The St. Paul boys basketball program is like a family.
Once you're a part of the Falcon family, you are in it forever.
Tonight, St. Paul looks to help one of its own. Joe Waida was the director of basketball operations for the Falcons for four years. He has since moved on to serve on the staff of CCSU men's basketball head coach Howie Dickenman, but Waida is still family to St. Paul and always will be.
That's why the Falcons want to help the Waida family tonight. Joe's mom Gail was diagnosed with MDS, a group of disorders caused when something disrupts the production of blood cells, according to a page started by Joe. The best care Gail can get is in New York City, and nothing is cheap in the Big Apple.
That's where St. Paul boys hoop comes in. The Falcons host Portland tonight at 7 o'clock on Senior Night in the gym on Maltby Street, and they would love for you to be their guests. One, to help out the Waida family, and two, to honor the seniors who have worked so hard for St. Paul boys basketball.
"We will be collecting donations/donating proceeds from the concessions to the Waida family," according to a post on the SPC Boys Basketball Twitter account. "Help w/ Mrs. Waida's fight against cancer. #Family"
If you can't get to the game, here's a link to the page, called "Gail's Angels." Good luck to you Gail, and good luck to Joe and the rest of the Waida family.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Quick look at girls hoop first round state matchups

Seven area girls basketball teams begin state tournament play on either Saturday or Monday.
Here's a little bit about each matchup:

No. 30 East Catholic at No. 3 St. Paul Catholic
Saturday, 7 p.m. at SPCHS
Class M First Round game

St. Paul
Record: 20-2
Seniors listed on CIAC roster: Emily Sklenka, Corinne Johndrow, Jillian Kilmer (injured), Elisabeth Cretella (All-NVL selection), Elizabeth Ferraro (All-Copper), Stephanie Speaker, Lauren Palmer
Of note: The Falcons look to get back on track after their NVL Tournament semifinal loss to runner-up Kennedy. Junior Brigid Johndrow was also an All-Copper selection.

East Catholic
Record: 10-10
Seniors: Katlin Szemreylo (All-CCC North Blue Division selection, Emily Corl (All-CCC North Blue), Emily Szemreylo, Nicoletta Longo
Of note: The Eagles beat local opponents Bristol Central and Plainville during the regular season. East Catholic was in Class L last season, where it dropped a first round game to Pomperaug.

No. 29 Kaynor Tech at No. 4 Holy Cross
Saturday, 5 p.m. at HCHS
Class M First Round game

Holy Cross
Record: 21-2 (NVL Tournament champion)
Seniors: Kaitlyn Grimshaw, RaShana Siders (All-NVL and Top Senior), Brianna Cracco, Caitlin Cipriano (All-City)
Of note: The Crusaders are coming off of a NVL Tournament championship. Holy Cross is without the injured Century McCartney (All-NVL, All-City), but it is still a dangerous team. Junior Idalis Miranda was an All-Brass selection.

Kaynor Tech
Record: 10-11
Seniors: Nathalie Vega, Nathalia Vega, Allison Terry, Jazmin Byars, Kaitlyn Thomas
Of note: The Panthers played six games against NVL opponents this season and lost them all. Kaynor Tech's most recent game was a loss against Prince Tech in the CSC quarterfinal round.

No. 26 Wolcott at No. 7 Weaver
Saturday, 4 p.m. at Classical Magnet, Hartford
Class M First Round game

Record: 10-11
Seniors: Allyson Hickey, Allessandra Mix, Briana Japs (All-Iron), Madison Greenstein, Amanda Japs
Of note: The Eagles were the No. 8 seed in the NVL Tournament and lost to top-seeded Holy Cross, the eventual champion, in the quarterfinal round. Briana Japs and sophomore Raven Cody make Wolcott go.

Record: 18-4
Seniors: Shaquana Edwards (All-CCC Central White, 2,000-point scorer), Kiana Stephens
Of note: Edwards has a sprained knee and may not play, according to The Hartford Courant. Junior Melicia Mendez also made the All-CCC Central White squad.

No. 22 Woodstock Academy at No. 11 Crosby
Monday, 7 p.m. at CHS
Class L First Round game

Record: 15-6
Seniors: Ninoshka Figueroa-Robles (All-NVL, All-City), Mariah Machado (All-Brass, All-City), Yoseiris Castro, Destin Trammell (All-Brass)
Of note: The Bulldogs last played a game in the NVL Tournament, where they lost to Watertown in the quarterfinal round. Figueroa-Robles is a potent scorer for Crosby, though Machado can also do damage.

Woodstock Academy
Record: 10-11
Seniors: Anna Perry
Of note: The Centaurs have just one senior listed on their CIAC Tournament roster. Woodstock lost in the first round of the ECC Tournament, and it will be making a long trip to Waterbury on Monday.

No. 20 Bristol Eastern at No. 13 Northwest Catholic
Monday, 7 p.m. at NW Catholic, West Hartford
Class L First Round game

Bristol Eastern
Record: 12-9
Seniors: Jamilla Shoultz (All-CCC South Blue), Anna Kelley, Gianna D'Amato
Of note: The Lancers lost a CCC first round game before beating city rival Bristol Central in their final regular season game (it had been postponed). Eastern is led by Shoultz and fellow All-CCC South Blue selection Diana Wnuk, a junior.

Northwest Catholic
Record: 13-8
Seniors: Erin Feeney, Mackenzie Tibball (All-CCC Central White), Athena Feola, Elysia Calloway
Of note: Tibball and junior Lauren Murphy, another All-CCC Central White selection, lead the way for the Lions. Northwest Catholic made the Class L state final last season, where it lost to Capital Prep.

No. 21 Wilton at No. 12 Kennedy
Saturday, 7 p.m. at KHS
Class LL First Round game

Record: 18-5 (NVL Tournament runner-up)
Seniors: Lynadia Whiting (All-NVL, All-City), Sarah Emmanuel-Norwood, Emily Ramos
Of note: The Eagles gave Holy Cross a great game before falling at home in the NVL title matchup. Junior Raegon Shirling-Davis made the All-Bras and All-City teams while sophomore Destiny Prather was All-Brass. Whiting makes this team go.

Record: 11-10
Seniors: Karen Brosko (second team All-FCIAC), Sarah Fitzgerald, Caraline Higgins, Taylor Ingerman (honorable mention All-FCIAC), Christina Holmgren, Hana Previte (honorable mention All-FCIAC)
Of note: This is a senior-laden bunch for the Warriors. Wilton is the defending Class LL state champion. The Warriors were eliminated by Stamford (No. 4 Class LL) in the FCIAC Tournament quarterfinals. Several of the top teams in Class LL are from the FCIAC, so Wilton has been battle-tested this season.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Holy Cross girls outlast Kennedy, win another NVL title

It wasn't easy, but why should it be in a league tournament championship game?
The top-seeded Holy Cross girls basketball team got all it could handle from No. 3 Kennedy on the Eagles' home floor inside Jack Taglia Gymnasium on Wednesday night during the NVL Tournament final.
With contributions from its stars and its role players, the Crusaders claimed a 61-56 victory and added another NVL title to the trophy case. Holy Cross senior RaShana Siders was named tournament MVP after scoring 22 points in the game. 
"I just think we played really hard defense in the second half," Siders told CPTV Sports after the game. "We came out and played with fire in the second half."
Senior Lynadia Whiting had 22 points for Kennedy.
The teams traded foul shots in the final two minutes, the final pair from Holy Cross senior Caitlin Cipriano (13 points) giving the Crusaders a tenuous 57-56 lead. Siders converted one of two free throws for a 58-56 lead. 
Kennedy had a chance to tie, but a turnover proved costly. On the next Holy Cross possession, Cipriano had control of the ball beyond the three-point line. Siders made a cut to the basket, and Cipriano found her for a lay-up and a 60-56 advantage. Cipriano added one more free throw for the final margin of victory.
"I want to thank my team for playing hard today," Siders said. "Let's keep it going."
Cipriano posted this on Twitter following the game.
"60-2 in my four years. Couldn't be more happy to be a part of a great tradition. Can't believe that was my last NVL game."
Big plays didn't just come from Siders and Cipriano. Junior Aiyana Ward was huge under the basket for the Crusaders with 13 points. Sophomore Gabby Goldman contributed 10 points, including some huge baskets to help keep Holy Cross ahead.
Kennedy showed the heart of a champion throughout and rallied to take a 56-55 lead on two foul shots from Whiting. Senior Sarah Emmanuel-Norwood had 13 points for the Eagles.
According to "The Zone" (Waterbury Republican-American), this is Holy Cross' ninth tournament title since 2005. Kennedy won the title in 2009.
Next up for both squads is the state tournament. Holy Cross (21-2 overall) is the No. 4 seed in Class M and hosts No. 29 Kaynor Tech on Saturday at 5 p.m. in a first round matchup.
Kennedy (18-5 overall) is the No. 12 seed in Class LL and hosts defending state champion Wilton, the No. 21 seed, on Saturday at 7 p.m. in a first round contest.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

St. Paul girls wait for Class M state tournament

St. Paul girls basketball's run to the NVL Tournament final ended prematurely on Monday in a 58-47 loss to Kennedy.
Falcons head coach Joe Mone hopes the loss will make his team hungry entering the upcoming Class M state tournament. St. Paul has an overall record of 20-2 and looks to be the No. 3 seed in Class M. Pairings come out tomorrow at noon.
Mone gave Kennedy credit for its win on Monday.
"They seem to play well when it counts, and hopefully we're going to do the same thing," Mone said.
St. Paul certainly has talent. The Falcons are led by All-NVL senior Lizzy Cretella, All-Copper junior Brigid Johndrow and All-Copper senior Lizzy Ferraro. As those players go, so does St. Paul. 
When looking ahead to Class M, the Falcons are in for a test. Cromwell and Enfield posted undefeated regular seasons and are ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the class. After St. Paul at No. 3, there is Holy Cross at No. 4, East Hampton at No. 5, Weaver at No. 7, Morgan at No. 8 and Waterford at No. 9.
"I think Class M is one of the tougher divisions," Mone said.
Mone added: "They've taken some of the best 'S' schools, and they've all moved up."
Postseason success dictated most of those moves, including the jump by St. Paul. The Falcons have plenty of seniors on their roster, and Mone is hoping that leadership takes his team on another long postseason run.

Kennedy girls on a great run

The Kennedy girls basketball team continues to play well, and that's not surprising to head coach Jenn Deeley.
"I think we just have an intensive mentality, a refuse to lose mentality," Deeley said.
The Eagles improved to 18-4 with their semifinal win over St. Paul on Monday evening. Falcons head coach Joe Mone noticed the improved effort from a team the Falcons beat 62-35 in the season opener.
"It looked to me that they played just a little bit harder," Mone said.
Whenever St. Paul attempted to make a run, Kennedy had the answer, and those answers came from different players. Lynadia Whiting is the leader of the pack, but she had help from others such as Destiny Prather and Raegon Shirling-Davis. The team effort was what brought the Eagles the win.
"I told them, 'you have to come ready to play,'" Deeley said.
Kennedy indeed came to play on Monday, and it earned a berth in the NVL Tournament final against Holy Cross. The Eagles lost twice to the Crusaders during the regular season, but they are playing great basketball at the right time.
Kennedy has no intention of letting Holy Cross waltz to the NVL title. Expect a battle tomorrow night.

Holy Cross girls ready to play for NVL title

The top-seeded Holy Cross girls basketball was expected to be in the NVL Tournament final
Their opponent, Kennedy, may not have been by many people up until the last few weeks. In that time, the Eagles have ripped off 17 wins in 18 games. Crusaders head coach Frank  Lombardo knows his team's opponent presents a challenge.
"They're very good, very athletic," Lombardo said.
The same goes for Holy Cross.
"I'm confident, I know our girls are confident," Lombardo said.
Senior Caitlin Cipriano echoed that confidence.
"I definitely think they're good competition for us and it will help us get ready for the state tournament, but I'm confident in my girls to get the job done," Cipriano said.
Holy Cross used its typical tough defense to shut down Watertown and pull away in Monday night's semifinal. The Crusaders held the Indians to two foul shots in the fourth quarter and put the game out of reach. If it wasn't for fouls, Holy Cross would have pulled away earlier, but the fouls come sometimes with the aggression of its defense.
Cipriano proved to be a force on the offensive end.
"I think last time I played them, I made a lot of my hooks and a lot of my drop steps," Cipriano said.
When Cipriano didn't have the shot, she kicked it back out to her teammates. The offensive balance and unselfishness make Holy Cross dangerous.
The Crusaders are 20-2 entering the final, and they are looking to add another tournament title to their ledger.

Photos from Holy Cross-Watertown NVL girls semifinal

Top-seeded Holy Cross bests No. 4 Watertown in NVL semifinal

The cast has changed, but the Holy Cross girls basketball team finds itself in a familiar spot.
The top-seeded Crusaders (20-2) reached yet another NVL final with a 55-37 win over No. 4 Watertown on Monday night in the second semifinal game at Kennedy High School's Jack Taglia Gymnasium. Holy Cross plays Kennedy on Wednesday night in the NVL final.
Senior Caitlin Cipriano led a multi-pronged Holy Cross attack with 19 points. 
"Cip did a great job inside, Aiyana (Ward) came in and gave us great minutes," Holy Cross head coach Frank Lombardo said.
Holy Cross talks it over during a timeout.
It was a solid team win for the Crusaders, though the usual suspects were the leaders on offense. Senior RaShana Siders tallied 15 points while junior Idalis Miranda scored 14. The Crusaders had a scare when Siders went down late in the fourth quarter, but she appeared to be OK. Her ankle was taped up after the game, but she seemed to be in good spirits. Holy Cross already lost Century McCartney to a season-ending knee injury.
A 20-0 run in the second quarter was a big key for the Crusaders.
"We definitely want to be the top defensive team in Class M," Cipriano said.
Holy Cross senior Kaitlyn Grimshaw (11) was Watertown star
Abby Collier's shadow throughout Monday's game.
A big part of that defensive effort was 5-foot-10 senior Kaitlyn Grimshaw. Grimshaw's job was to face guard Watertown senior star Abby Collier, and she did pretty well in that department.
"She does a good job of making it difficult to pass," Lombardo said about Grimshaw.
Grimshaw was Collier's shadow, but she had help. When Collier tried to turn after catching the ball, she was usually met by a backside defender like Cipriano, Gabby Goldman or others. Collier earned all 14 of her points on Monday night.
"We like to face guard," Cipriano said, adding that the Crusaders have good rotation on their defense.
"Our initial defense was very good," Lombardo said, though he'd like to see his team give up less offensive rebounds.
Collier led Watertown with those 14 points, but she was the lone Indian in double figures. Holy Cross' strategy was to make someone else beat it, and it worked. The result is another NVL final for the Crusaders. As their warm-up shirts say, "The Tradition Continues."

Photos from Kennedy-St. Paul NVL semifinal