Tuesday, February 28, 2017

CIAC GIRLS BASKETBALL: Holy Cross, Kennedy and Sacred Heart all win in the first round

Four local girls basketball teams played in first round state tournament games on Monday night, and three of them moved on.
Holy Cross, Kennedy and Sacred Heart punched tickets to Thursday's second round. Crosby fell to Holy Cross and saw its season end with a record of 5-16.
Here's more on each game:

No. 1 Holy Cross 83, No. 32 Crosby 31
The Crusaders rolled to their third victory in as many tries against the NVL foe Bulldogs inside Tim McDonald Gymnasium.
Idalis Miranda led a very balanced Holy Cross attack with 13 points. Julia Mecca and Century McCartney both had nine points while Devan Eason scored eight points. Isabel Plant, Allie Brown and Andrea Pettinico all had six points.
Holy Cross (22-2 overall) will host No. 16 Sheehan on Thursday at 7 p.m. in The Pit. The Titans edged out No. 17 Ledyard of the Eastern Connecticut Conference by a score 54-51 in the first round.
Ledya Colon led Crosby with nine points. It was the final game in a Bulldog uniform for Da'ahjah Heath and Pegah Rezamand. Heath had two points.
No. 6 Kennedy 43, No. 27 Nonnewaug 33
The Eagles held off the Berkshire League's Chiefs in Jack Taglia Gymnasium and moved on.
Shyan Perez had the huge night for Kennedy with 18 points. Raegon Shirling-Davis scored 10 points while Yakira Edwards added nine for the Eagles.
Kennedy (17-6 overall) will host No. 22 Sacred Heart Academy of the Southern Connecticut Conference on Thursday at 7 p.m. The SHArks took down No. 11 Bullard Havens Tech of the Constitution State Conference by a score of 57-34 in the first round.

No. 16 Sacred Heart 37, No. 17 Putnam 23
The Hearts stuffed the CSC's Highlanders in Alumni Hall and reached the second round.
Sacred Heart had a balanced scoring attack, in spite of the low final score. Hayley Tucker led with eight points while Victoria Santiago and Treasure Coleman hit for seven each. Aamya Rivera scored six points for the Hearts. Two crazy stats to point out: Coleman, who is 5-foot-6, had 14 rebounds and six steals.
Sacred Heart (14-8 overall) will travel to East Hampton of the Shoreline Conference to face Class S's top seed. The game is Thursday at 7 p.m. The Bellringers eliminated Litchfield from the Berkshire League by a 55-33 margin in the first round.

Statistics were reported to the Waterbury Republican-American and posted on The Zone.

NVL COMMENTARY: Holy Cross rolls into the final against Sacred Heart

After his team's NVL Tournament quarterfinal win over Torrington on Saturday, Kennedy head coach Ryan Sullivan talked about the keys against semifinal opponent Holy Cross.
Sullivan said whoever got to the 50-50 balls and controlled the boards would win the game. Unfortunately for Sullivan, his Eagles didn't do enough in either category to win on Monday at the Reggie O'Brien Gymnasium inside Wilby High School.
Second-seeded Holy Cross used its length and athleticism to roll past third-seeded Kennedy 78-52 in the first semifinal on Monday. Marcellus Gomes was an absolute terror for the Crusaders with his length and ability to get to the basket. He led all scorers with 24 points while teammate DeAndre Wallace poured in 22. Kerson Etienne (12) and Nyzair Rountree (11) also scored in double figures.
Kennedy actually led the game 30-29 at halftime, but that became a distant memory in the second half. Holy Cross used its athleticism well, and it took advantage of a slew of Kennedy mistakes to run away with the game in the fourth quarter. The Crusaders led 52-42 after three quarters, then blew away the Eagles with a 26-10 advantage in the final eight minutes.
Gomes in particular was awesome. He used his length and long strides to quickly get to the basket. Gomes' length was also a factor on the defensive end.
When the Eagles did get to the basket, Wallace was there to swat away shot after shot. On the offensive end, Gomes and Wallace were a consistent problem on the backboards.
Kennedy's Lashawn Smith (17 points), Ty Sands (15) and Chomari Joseph (13) all hit double figures. The Eagles were hot shooting in the first half, but turnovers and poor shots made the offense come unglued in the second half.
Holy Cross will play top-seeded Sacred Heart in the tournament final Wednesday night at 7 at Wilby. The Crusaders gave the Hearts their biggest scare of the season on Feb. 6 at Alumni Hall. Holy Cross led by 17 points in the fourth quarter, but Sacred Heart rallied for a 65-63 win.

NVL COMMENTARY: Sacred Heart balance overcomes Kendall's big night for Crosby in semis

Sacred Heart senior Legend Johnson scores the last two of his team-high 25 points in the NVL semifinal win over Crosby on Monday night.
Crosby's Jeremiah Kendall showed those in attendance, including myself, Monday night at the Reggie O'Brien Gymnasium why he was selected as the NVL's Top Senior.
Top-seeded Sacred Heart showed why it is still the team to beat.
Kendall blew up for 42 points, the highest point total so far in this year's tournament, but the Hearts saw four players reach double figures and took a 86-77 win in the second NVL semifinal of the night at Wilby High School.
While Kendall was single-handedly trying to push Crosby into the final, Sacred Heart was getting big contributions from Legend Johnson, Raheem Solomon, Isaiah Gaiter and Courie Stevenson, the four scorers in double figures with 25, 19, 16 and 14 points. Also huge for the Hearts was 5-foot-8 junior Michael West, who poured in key points to help keep the Bulldogs at bay.
West was the key to a big third quarter run, scoring all eight of his points. He knocked down two corner 3-pointers, plus a layup.
Johnson was huge on both ends of the floor. He not only led Sacred Heart in scoring, but he also played defense on Crosby senior sharpshooter Miguel Rivera. Rivera scored just six points on two 3-pointers and he spent much of his night in frustration.
The Hearts roared out to a 9-2 lead after the Bulldogs got the first basket. In the second and third quarters, Kendall brought Crosby back nearly all by himself. There was a giant baseline dunk by senior Nosa Igbinewuare that got the crowd fired up, and then there was Kendall. Kendall shot the ball, and he battled and battled under the basket of the rebounds.
Crosby began the fourth quarter down 61-58 with the ball, but a turnover via offensive foul gave the ball back to Sacred Heart. The three-point deficit was as close as the Bulldogs would get to the Hearts.
Sacred Heart is back in its familiar spot, one of two teams to play in the NVL Tournament championship game. The Hearts play second-seeded Holy Cross at 7 p.m. at Wilby.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Kaynor Tech girls make a great run to the CSC final

The Kaynor Tech girls basketball team made it all the way to the Constitution State Conference Tournament championship game.
Of course with Capital Prep in the CSC, the end result won't be good for a tech school like Kaynor, and it wasn't on Saturday at the University of Saint Joseph's in West Hartford. The Panthers lost 79-29 to the Trailblazers, but that takes absolutely nothing away from the run the tech school from Waterbury had.
"It wasn't the result that we wanted but I am extremely proud of this team. 13-1 against Conference teams!" Stasaitis tweeted Saturday. The tweet included a team picture with the runner-up trophy.
Kaynor Tech will host a Class M first round state tournament game Tuesday when it plays Rocky Hill in a battle of the No. 15 and No. 18 seeds. It's already been a solid season for the Panthers, and they hope to keep it going as long as they can.

WRESTLING STATE OPEN: Trelli finishes second, Barrett takes third

Bristol Central's Chris Trelli finished second at 106 pounds in the State Open.
When the CIAC Wrestling State Open began Friday, there were 13 wrestlers from Bristol schools competing.
By the end of Saturday, only Bristol Central's Chris Trelli and Bristol Eastern's Mikey Barrett were left. Both earned medals and a trip to the New England Tournament next weekend.
Trelli reached the 106-pound championship final, where he lost a 5-0 decision to Danbury's Ryan Jack. Trelli wasn't the only victim of a Hatter wrestler, given the perennial power won the State Open team title. 
Trelli had a first round bye, then took down Ridgefield's Benjamin Smart in a 13-4 major decision. Trelli scored a 21-6 quarterfinal tech fall against Terryville's Cayleb Leclerc, then claimed a 5-2 decision against Wilton's Travis Longo in the semifinal.
Bristol Eastern's Mikey Barrett finished third at 160 pounds in the State Open
Barrett wound up with a third place finish at 160 pounds. He made it all the way to the championship semifinal, where he was pinned by eventual Open champion Ryan Devivo of Xavier. Barrett was dropped into the consolation semifinals, where he battled to a 4-3 decision against Danbury's Gino Baratta. In the third place match, Barrett recorded a 5-3 decision against Greenwich's Michael Ceci.
Before the loss to Devivo, Barrett knocked off Baratta in the Round of 16 via a 5-3 decision, then pinned Ledyard's Jacob Millbach 2:40 into their championship quarterfinal match.
Bristol Eastern had the highest area team finish, taking 12th with 52 points.

Four games, four blowouts in NVL boys quarterfinals Saturday

Sacred Heart's Raheem Solomon launches a 3-pointer. He had four of them in a 31-point effort for the Hearts.
The NVL boys basketball quarterfinals on Saturday all ended with one-sided margins.
Here were the final scores from the Reggie O'Brien Gymnasium at Wilby High School:

No. 2 Holy Cross 90, No. 7 Seymour 69
No. 3 Kennedy 104, No. 6 Torrington 68
No. 5 Crosby 81, No. 4 St. Paul 55
No. 1 Sacred Heart 82, No. 8 Naugatuck 43

That's right. The closest margin of victory in any game on Saturday was Holy Cross' 21-point margin against Seymour. 
It was a tough day of basketball at The Reg. The average margin of victory was 30.5 points. Monday's semifinals should be better. No. 2 Holy Cross and No. 3 Kennedy meet in the first game at 5 p.m., followed by No. 1 Sacred Heart and No. 5 Crosby at 7 p.m. Both games are at Wilby.
Here's an overview of each quarterfinal:

Holy Cross' Nyzair Rountree throws down one of a bushel of dunks that he had Saturday.
No. 2 Holy Cross 90, 
No. 7 Seymour 69
The game actually was close at halftime with the Crusaders ahead by just four points, 37-33. Holy Cross used a strong third quarter to open up the game, then ran away for the win.
DeAndre Wallace led the Crusaders' tough foursome with 24 points, most of it coming when he attacked the basket either on his shot or off a rebound. Nyzair Rountree had 20 points, including a bushel of dunks. Marcellus Gomes put in 15 points while Kerson Etienne tallied 13 points.
"On offense, they executed it, and they got the ball where we wanted the ball to go," Holy Cross head coach Ryan Olsen said.
On defense, it was pressure, pressure and more pressure. The Crusaders were also a little extra motivated after the halftime break.
"I had to lay into them, first time all year," Olsen said.
What changed for Holy Cross? Better execution, on both offense and defense.

Kennedy's Chomari Joseph goes up in traffic.
No. 3 Kennedy 104, 
No. 6 Torrington 68
At one point in the first quarter, Eagles head coach Ryan Sullivan called timeout and lit into his team. Sullivan felt defense and overall speed was lacking from his team.
Kennedy led Torrington just 22-20 after one quarter, then extended the advantage to 44-30 by halftime. After the break, it was all Eagles.
Sullivan's message was simple to Kennedy.
"If you turn up the defensive intensity, you'll get layups," Sullivan said.
The Eagles seemed to be attacking the basket at every moment of the second half as they scored 60 points. For the game, Ty Sands led with 23 points.
"He does a little bit of everything," Sullivan said.
Chomari Joseph was one of two eagles with 18 points.
"Chomari Joseph played well in the second half," Sullivan said.
Tyvon Stenson was his usual steady self and also scored 18 points. Lashawn Smith tallied 17 points while William Spears added 13 points. Sullivan liked the way Spears played.
"I thought my sophomore William Spears was excellent," Sullivan said.
Kennedy's game is to get out and run, and it did after the first quarter.

Crosby's Jeremiah Kendall (left) makes a nice pass to Nosa Igbinewuare, right, for the basket.
No. 5 Crosby 81, 
No. 4 St. Paul 55
The Bulldogs rained down 18 3-pointers in the regular season finale between the teams on Wednesday.
Crosby again made it rain from three-point land, canning 14 3-pointers on the way to a second straight rout of St. Paul. A key to the offensive outburst was a lineup shift Bulldogs head coach Nick Augelli made. For the starting five Saturday, Augelli shifted Markeese Days to center. That move allowed Jeremiah Kendall to stretch the floor with both his outside shooting and his ability to drive. It also gave Crosby two big three-point threats in Kendall and Miguel Rivera.
"I have had the same starting lineup for four or five games this year," Augelli said.
Kendall (34 points) and Rivera (20 points) hit five 3-pointers apiece. Tarique Foggie (10 points) made two treys while Elijah Carter and Marquel Jackson-Smith added one each.
On defense, Crosby was active and harassed St. Paul for much of the game. The Falcons could never get a rhythm -- or get comfortable -- and were run off the floor by the Bulldogs. That's exactly what Augelli wanted from his defense.
"Defensively, we're starting to play with a little more intensity," Augelli said.
Crosby's three-point shooting ability means teams can't double Kendall inside as much as they may want to. Kendall and Rivera, both senior captains, are helping to lead the way.
Tyler Arbuckle led St. Paul with 27 points, but he had to work hard to get them. Arbuckle was also the only Falcon in double figures. Austin Jones scored eight points while Matt Garry tallied six.

Sacred Heart's Legend Johnson (2) puts up a 3-pointer from the corner.
No. 1 Sacred Heart 82, 
No. 8 Naugatuck 43
The Hearts built a 19-point lead, but the Greyhounds quickly cut it back with outside shooting and mistakes by the top seed.
"We had two travel calls down here and they hit a couple 3s, and that 19-point lead was down to 13," Sacred Heart head coach Jon Carroll said. "That's the kind of lapse that doesn't hurt us here, but could down the road.
Up 32-22 at halftime, Carroll asked for more intensity on the defensive end.
"Our offense comes from solid defense," Carroll said.
Sacred Heart erupted for a 29-13 third quarter that was spurred by aggressive defense, then poured it on in the fourth quarter to overwhelm Naugatuck. Raheem Solomon was awesome with 31 points, including four 3-pointers. Isaiah Gaiter and Courie Stevenson each had 12 points while Legend Johnson and Mikey West put in eight points apiece.

WATERBURY'S WEEKLY ROUNDUP #9: WCA boys finish regular season at .500

Four Waterbury boys basketball teams -- Sacred Heart, Holy Cross, Kennedy and Crosby -- will take part in the NVL Tournament starting Saturday. Here's how the rest of the Brass City teams finished the regular season.
Waterbury Career Academy: After losing 85-66 at home to Kennedy on Monday, the Spartans closed the season with a 81-47 road win over Derby on Wednesday.
WCA finished the regular season with a 10-10 record. The Spartans are sitting at No. 23 in the Class S state tournament standings, which would put them in a road game against No. 10 Windsor Locks in the first round. The official seeds will be announced this coming Wednesday.
Wilby: The Wildcats lost a tough road game to Seymour on Wednesday, then dropped a makeup game at home against Hartford Public on Friday.
Wilby went down 70-65 at Seymour. The Wildcats played their final home game Friday against Hartford Public and lost 75-61 in overtime.
Wilby finished the regular seaosn with a record of 8-12. The Wildcats are No. 32 in Class LL, which puts them against top-seeded Notre Dame-West Haven for now. Again, official seeds come out this Wednesday.
Kaynor Tech: The Panthers concluded their season with a 68-54 home loss against Woodland on Wednesday.
Kaynor Tech finished with a record of 6-14.
Chase Collegiate: The Highlanders won their HVAL quarterfinal game in a 84-33 pounding of the Wooster School on Tuesday.

State tournament seeds were announced Wednesday, and six area girls teams made the grade.
Holy Cross hosts Crosby next Monday in a matchup of the No. 1 and No. 32 seeds in the Class L bracket. Kennedy is No. 6 in Class L and will host No. 27 Nonnewaug.
No. 32 WCA draws top-seeded Suffield in Class M next Tuesday after winning its first postseason game in a romp over No. 33 Goodwin Tech. Kaynor Tech earned the No. 15 seed in Class M and will host No. 18 Rocky Hill.
In Class S, Sacred Heart is the No. 16 seed and will host No. 17 Putnam next Monday.
Chase Collegiate: The Highlanders earned a first round bye in the HVAL, but lost their semifinal game 35-30 to the Forman School on Thursday.

The NVL championship meets are coming up. The diving championship is this Wednesday, followed by swimming on Friday. The diving meet is at Woodland while swimming will be held at Kennedy.

Friday, February 24, 2017

WCA girls make history, grab program's first postseason win

WCA head coach Stephen Barbieri yells out instructions as Armani Weaver (left) and Alyssa Chouinard wait to check back
 into Friday's Class M qualifying round game. The Spartans claimed the first postseason win in program history.
The Waterbury Career Academy girls basketball team has made incredible strides between its first and second seasons at the varsity level.
After going 2-18 last season, the Spartans went 8-12 in 2016-17. WCA earned a state tournament berth and the No. 32 seed in the Class M bracket.
The six-win improvement is impressive enough, but the Spartans took it one step further on Friday night inside the tight confines of their home gymnasium.
WCA used a balanced attack and plenty of pressure defense to overwhelm No. 33 Goodwin Tech of New Britain 53-23 in a qualifying round game. The postseason win is the first in the history of the young Spartan program.
WCA junior captain Shyra Fisher calls out a play before inbouding the ball.
"It means a lot," junior captain Shyra Fisher said after the victory. "I'm glad our team has come as far as we did."
There were plenty of leaders on the floor for WCA. For scoring, juniors Armani Weaver (13 points) and Kendra McPherson (10) found their way into double figures. Fisher was not only the leading rebounder with seven, but she was also the top thief for the Spartans with five steals. Junior Alyssa Chouinard dished out the most assists with five.
For point totals, it went like this: Weaver 13, McPherson 10, Chouinard 7, Shynia Moore 6, Leila Lazaro 5, Fisher 4, Dianna Samaroo 3, Tiana Wright 3, Myrta Ortiz 2.
WCA head coach Stephen Barbieri described it as "me becoming we."
"The kids have been putting in a tremendous amount of work, and they are reaping the benefits," Barbieri said.
The Spartans scored a quick knockdown of the Gladiators, claiming a 10-0 lead just over six minutes into the game. Goodwin did trim it back to 14-5 by the end of the first quarter, but WCA lowered the boom on its younger, overwhelmed opponent in the second quarter.
The Spartans turned up the defensive pressure and ran out to a 26-4 second quarter and a 40-9 halftime lead. It was academic from there.
"I told my staff we got to go," Barbieri said. "Get the pressing team in and crank it up a little bit."
WCA certainly cranked it up, led by the efforts of Fisher, Moore and Lazaro. Fisher is all over the floor with her constant hustle.
"She's our spark plug," Barbieri said. "We have our scorers, but Shyra gets after it."
Fisher said she too is working on her offense. That's coming along, much the same way her team has this season.
"I think my team has improved a lot from last year," Fisher said.
Barbieri goes to Moore and Lazaro when he wants to turn up the heat defensively. 
Of course, it helped that others did their part as well. Weaver had all three of her steals in the second quarter.
"I thought she made tremendous passes, I thought she played much better defense," Barbieri said.
In addition to her three 3-pointers, Weaver also pulled down five rebounds. Backcourt mate Chouinard ran the offense smoothly, dishing out five assists. She also had five rebounds.
Barbieri said coaches come up with the plan, but the players have to execute. The WCA did execute on Friday.
"They won tonight," Barbieri said of his players. "We (coaches) just try to prepare them for what they're going to see."
The Spartans were prepared Friday, and they came away with the first postseason win in program history. 
Next Tuesday's game at top-seeded Suffield will be much, much tougher, but WCA already put a big notch in its belt by winning its first postseason game. 
"We're going to go up there and compete," Barbieri said.
No matter what happens next Tuesday in Suffield, the Spartans have improved so much since last season. Even more promising, WCA loses just one senior, Tiana Wright, for next season. The Spartans will be back, and they will be experienced. And chances are, they will show even more improvement next season.

BRISTOL'S WEEKLY ROUNDUP #9: Eastern boys see season come to an end

Bristol Eastern boys basketball saw its season come to an end with losses to Bristol Central and Berlin.
The Lancers battled the rival Rams on Monday, but saw a nine-point halftime lead disappear in a 68-62 loss. On Wednesday, Eastern went down 59-41 at Berlin to close the season with a 5-15 record. It was the first season under head coach Bunty Ray, a long-time assistant for Mike Giovinazzo.
Senior transfer Roderick Jenkins led Eastern in both losses. He had 23 points in the Central game, followed by 20 against Berlin. Eastern stat guru and Bristol Observer writer Michael Letendre tweeted that Jenkins averaged 20.1 points per game, along with 6.6 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 3.1 steals. Not bad for his only season in a Lancer uniform.
The Berlin game was also the final one for Eastern seniors Justin Blake, Tom Gonzales, and Jake Violette.
Bristol Central: Monday's 68-62 home win over Eastern gave the Rams a 10-10 record.
Central missed out on the CCC Tournament, and it has to wait until next Wednesday to find out its seed in Class L. As of now, the Rams are No. 24.
St. Paul: The Falcons were beat up by Crosby in their regular season finale Wednesday, but they still earned the No. 4 seed in the NVL Tournament.
In a bit of irony, St. Paul plays No. 5 Crosby in the third quarterfinal of the day on Saturday at Wilby High School.

Bristol Eastern and St. Paul learn tournament seeds: The Lancers and Falcons will each take part in the state tournament, and both found out who they play on Wednesday.
Bristol Eastern, the No. 15 seed in Class LL, hosts No. 18 Lyman Hall of Wallingford (Southern Connecticut Conference) next Tuesday at 7 p.m.
St. Paul, the No. 7 seed in Class M, hosts No. 26 Griswold (Eastern Connecticut Conference) also next Tuesday at 7 p.m.

The Bristol tri-op (Central, Eastern, St. Paul) dropped its final regular season meet against Middletown on Tuesday at the Dennis Malone Aquatic Center.
Next up for Bristol is the CCC South Blue Division championships. Diving is scheduled for next Thursday at Hartford's Bulkeley High School. Warm-ups are at 4 p.m., followed by competition at 5 p.m.
For the swim portion of the meet, Bristol returns to Bulkeley next Saturday. Warm-ups are at 11 a.m. with competition beginning at noon.

This is the last Bristol weekly roundup until the spring season. League and state tournaments -- including this weekend's wrestling State Open -- will be covered in their own posts. 

WOLCOTT'S WEEKLY ROUNDUP #9: Boys hoop season ends, girls learn state seed

The Wolcott boys basketball season came to a close on Wednesday night at home.
The Eagles were defeated 71-58 by Ansonia inside John Morris Gymnasium. Wolcott had an outside shot at the state tournament, but lost its last three games to finish 6-14.
Pat Drewry was the leading scorer in his final Wolcott game, tallying 17 points. Mike Tessarzik scored 14 points while Bob White added 11 in his last game as an Eagle. It was also the final Wolcott game for Justin Fernandes, Ray Iorio (2 points), Preston Lavoie, Ken Pond and Ryan Tumel, according to the team's CIAC roster.

After losing to Holy Cross in a NVL Tournament quarterfinal last Saturday, Wolcott found out where its headed in the first round of the Class M state tournament.
The Eagles (11-9 regular season) are the No. 24 seed and will hit the road next Tuesday to play No. 9 Waterford (16-4). The Lancers play in the Eastern Connecticut Conference.

This will be the last weekly roundup of the winter season. I will post roundups of each day's state tournament games. The weekly roundups will resume in the spring.

NVL BOYS TOURNAMENT: Area teams own Top 5 seeds entering the quarterfinal round

Sacred Heart's Raheem Solomon (11) and Kennedy's Tyairus Sands (5) look to help lead their teams to a NVL Tournament title.
The Top 5 teams in the Naugatuck Valley League boys basketball tournament should sound familiar to area hoop fans.
From 1-5, it goes Sacred Heart, Holy Cross, Kennedy, St. Paul and Crosby. Those five teams, plus Torrington, Seymour and Naugatuck, tip off the NVL Tournament on Saturday inside the Reggie O'Brien Gymnasium at Wilby High School.

The schedule is as follows:
No. 2 Holy Cross (14-4) vs. No. 7 Seymour (11-7), noon
No. 3 Kennedy (14-4) vs. No. 6 Torrington (12-6), 1:45 p.m.
No. 4 St. Paul (14-4) vs. No. 5 Crosby (13-5), 3:30 p.m.
No. 1 Sacred Heart (18-0) vs. No. 8 Naugatuck (10-8), 5:15 p.m.

No. 2 Holy Cross vs. No. 7 Seymour
Nyzair Rountree and head coach Ryan Olsen hope to lead Holy Cross
to a NVL Tournament title. They play Seymour in Saturday's first game.
Regular season meeting: Holy Cross 81, Seymour 62, Dec. 20 at Holy Cross -- The Crusaders won their first game played under first-year head coach Ryan Olsen. Nyzair Rountree scored 29 points, Kerson Etienne had 22 and DeAndre Wallace added 15 for Holy Cross. Jaylen Crawford led Seymour with 24 points. Kevin Crawford added 15 points for the Wildcats.
A little bit about both teams: Holy Cross is led by the strong quartet of Rountree, Etienne, Wallace and Marcellus Gomes. Each player averaged double figures in points during the regular season. Wallace averaged a double-double in points and rebounds.
The Crawfords are the leading scorers for Seymour. Jaylen Crawford put up 21.4 points per game while Kevin Crawford averaged 17.3. Nick Martins (9.9) and Tyler Strang (9.3) also contribute to the offensive attack.
(Statistics from MaxPreps pages of both teams.)

No. 3 Kennedy vs. No. 6 Torrington
Chomari Joseph (32) has been a solid player for Kennedy this season.
Regular season: The Eagles and Raiders didn't played each other this season.
A little bit about both teams: Kennedy saw four players average double figures in points this season -- Lashawn Smith (17.2), Tyairus Sands (13.9), Tyvon Stenson (12.8) and Chomari Joseph (10.7). There have also been solid contributions from Jeremy Acosta and William Spears.
Torrington has a balanced offensive attack with Tyreek Davis (14.4), Joel Villanueva (11.6) and Jordan Henneberry (10.1) each having a double-digit point average during the regular season.
(Kennedy statistics posted on The Zone. Torrington statistics from MaxPreps page.)

Matt Garry (3) and Darek Wiecki have been solid contributors for St. Paul.
No. 4 St. Paul vs. No. 5 Crosby
Regular season meeting: These teams played each other Wednesday at The Palace, and it wasn't good for the Falcons.
Crosby bludgeoned St. Paul 91-53 behind 18 3-pointers. Miguel Rivera canned six treys to lead the Bulldogs. Jeremiah Kendall made four 3-pointers, Ivan Craig knocked down three of them, and Tarique Foggie added two. Three other players made one trey for Crosby, which made 18 of 34 attempts from behind the arc.
For St. Paul, Mike Palmieri (15) and Austin Jones (11) reached double figures in points. Tyler Arbuckle added eight points for the Falcons.
Jeremiah Kendall averaged nearly 27 points per game
for Crosby during the regular season.
A little bit about both teams: St. Paul has been led by Palmieri, Jones and Darek Wiecki all season, but the Falcons got a big boost when Arbuckle became eligible after having to sit out as a transfer. Matt Garry has also made his presence felt, like he did in a close win at Waterbury Career Academy earlier this month. 
Kendall is who makes Crosby go, but Rivera is a deadly outside shooter and ball-handler. The Bulldogs can also be balanced with players like Craig, Foggie and Kerwin Prince. Kendall averaged 26.6 points per game to lead Crosby. Rivera (16.2) and Prince (10.1) also logged double-figure averages.
(Crosby statistics from MaxPreps page.)

No. 1 Sacred Heart vs. No. 8 Naugatuck
Legend Johnson and Sacred Heart are looking for another NVL title.
Regular season meeting: The Hearts beat the Greyhounds 66-42 on Feb. 8 in Naugatuck.
A little bit about both teams: Sacred Heart has had a balanced attack led by Raheem Solomon and Isaiah Gaiter. Solomon (19 points per game) and Gaiter (15) are the lone players averaging double figures, but Omar Rowe (9.9), Courie Stevenson (9.7) and Legend Johnson (8.2) contributed as well.
Naugatuck also has two players averaging double figures. They are Jean Lukau-Mbalandaka (16.1) and Shane Swierbitowicz (11.5). Two others average 7.1 or more per game.
(Statistics posted on The Zone.)

HIGH 5 OF THE WEEK: DeFillippi part of historic season for Mount Ida

Joey DeFillippi, Mount Ida College basketball
DeFillippi (Mount Ida athletics)
While playing at Bristol Central High School, DeFillippi helped lead the Rams to the brink of their first state final since the magical 1990 championship team.
DeFillippi was part of another historic season, this time at Mount Ida College. The Mustangs won a record number of conference games, then recorded their first Great Northeast Athletic Conference Tournament win.
On Tuesday, Mount Ida knocked off Saint Joseph's of Maine 91-83 in a GNAC quarterfinal. DeFillippi, a junior, scored 13 points in 25 minutes on 4-of-8 shooting. He was 2-of-5 on 3-pointers and 3-of-4 on foul shots. DeFillippi had three assists, one turnover, one rebound and one personal foul.
DeFillippi helped extend the Mount Ida lead to 57-51 with 13:17 left in the game on one of his two 3-pointers. He also made three free throws in the final 11 seconds to help keep Saint Joseph's at bay.
DeFillippi reached double figures again in the semifinal, scoring 11 points in a 107-68 loss to top-ranked Albertus Magnus College in New Haven.
Mount Ida went 12-6 in the GNAC this season and 17-10 overall. The Mustangs came up a win short of the program record.

Gallino (SCSU athletics)
David Gallino and Raymond Snyder IV, 
Southern Connecticut State University swimming and diving
Gallino and Snyder, though three years apart, each played a big role in the Owls securing second place at the Northeast-10 Conference Championship.
Both were Sacred Heart stars, and both contributed in the clutch for SCSU.
Gallino was named Co-Most Outstanding Diver of the championship, along with junior teammate Salim Leonard. Gallino won one-meter diving with 435.05 points, scoring 20 team points. Leonard was second with 423.35 points, picking up 17 team points.
Snyder (SCSU athletics)
In three-meter diving, the roles were reversed with Gallino is second place (413.35/17) and Leonard in first (451.65/20).
Snyder tallied first place finishes in the 100 and 200-yard backstroke events. He swam the 100 backstroke in 51.24 seconds. In the 200 backstroke, Snyder completed it in 1:51.67.
Snyder was also part of two winning relays. He teamed up with Brandon Beaudoin, Leo Laporte and Max Padro to finish first in the 400-yard medley relay in 3:25.05. In the 200-yard freestyle relay, Snyder joined forces with Padro, Tyler Castellone and Tyler Vander Vos for a first place finish in a time of 1:24.45. 
Snyder claimed third place in the 50-yard freestyle. He also helped the 400-yard freestyle relay pick up a third place finish, along with Padro, Laporte and Vander Vos.

Craig (Marist athletics)
Danisha Craig, Marist College indoor track and field
It's hard to have a more record-setting day than the one this junior had last weekend at the MAAC Indoor Championships at the Armory Track and Field Center in New York City.
The former Bristol Central standout set three school records -- two in the same event and one as part of a relay.
Craig took part in the 400-meter dash and put up consecutive record times in the trials and finals. Craig qualified for the final with a time of 58.19 seconds, a record. Next up was the final, and Craig put up a record time of 58.05 seconds in a fourth place finish. The 58.19 she ran in the trials broke a record of 58.22 that she put up a week before.
On the last night of the meet, Craig was part of the school's first sub-four minute 4x400-meter relay. Craig combined with Jenn Horner, Ashley Haynes and Debbie Boerke to finish third in a time of 3:59.04. The old record in the event was 4:00.20, set in 2015.

Gioielli (CCSU athletics)
Joe Gioielli, Central Connecticut State University 
indoor track and field
The senior competed in his final Northeast Conference championship meet at the Ocean Breeze Athletic Complex in Staten Island, N.Y.
Gioielli was the NEC Runner-Up in both the 800 meters and the mile. He finished second in the 800 in a time of 1:52.20, then took second in the mile in 4:13.29. Gioielli helped the Blue Devils tally 28 team points in the two events. 
Gioielli also ran in the distance medley relay with teammates Austin Trainor, Will Ribiero and Julio Arredondo. The relay finished third in the event.
CCSU finished fifth as a team in the championships. The Blue Devils begin the New England Championships today at the Reggie Lewis Athletic Center in Boston. The championships are today and Saturday.
Gioielli is a former Wolcott High School standout.

Information obtained from the team websites of each athlete.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

St. Paul girls shut down Holy Cross, win first NVL title

Johndrow (2) and Sanchez (22)
The last time St. Paul girls basketball played Holy Cross inside the Jack Taglia Gymnasium at Kennedy High School, the Crusaders knocked off the Falcons for the NVL title.
That was 2014, and St. Paul made sure 2017's outcome would be different.
The second-seeded Falcons used a stalwart defense to shut down the top-seeded Crusaders 47-30 and win the NVL Tournament championship. It was the first loss to a NVL team for Holy Cross this season, and St. Paul avenged a regular season defeat. It was also the first tournament title for the Falcons.
Seniors Brigid Johndrow and Amelia Sanchez were both selected to the All-Tournament team for their efforts, according to a tweet from St. Paul assistant coach Claire Consonni. Freshman Janessa Gonzalez took home tournament MVP honors.
St. Paul jumped out to a 16-7 lead after one quarter, but Holy Cross cut the deficit to a single point, 20-19, by halftime The Falcons owned the second half, outscoring the Crusaders 27-11 in the final 16 minutes.
Holy Cross got into early foul trouble, including junior Aiyana Ward, who is the biggest player the Crusaders have. That's according to Joe Palladino's story on The Zone.
What Palladino also reported, however, was that St. Paul was about as close to perfect as a team could get. The Falcons earned their title, the first in program history.
Head coach Joe Mone told Palladino that St. Paul was always knocked for not winning big games in the NVL. The Falcons silenced that criticism for good with Wednesday night's win.
St. Paul and Holy Cross now turn their attention to the state tournament.

Thirteen locals ready for State Open wrestling

Bristol Eastern senior Zach Marquis owns the top seed at 182 pounds for this weekend's CIAC State Open Wrestling Tournament.
Here are the local seeds for this weekend's CIAC State Open Wrestling Tournament (Friday and Saturday) at the Floyd Little Athletic Center in New Haven:

Friday: 4:15 p.m. start
Saturday: 9 a.m. start

6. Chris Trelli, junior, Bristol Central
13. Bryce Beebe, junior, Bristol Eastern

13. Jordon Champagne, junior, Bristol Eastern

18. Carson Sassu, sophomore, Bristol Eastern


18. Jack Kachidurian, senior, Bristol Eastern


16. Anthony Lozier, senior, Bristol Eastern

15. Justin Marshall, sophomore, Bristol Eastern

3. Mikey Barrett, junior, Bristol Eastern

4. Trinadad Gonzalez, sophomore, Bristol Eastern

1. Zach Marquis, senior, Bristol Eastern


14. Mike Guzman, junior, Bristol Central
19. Matt Gray, senior, St. Paul
23. Hidekel Mangual, junior, Bristol Eastern

Kaynor Tech girls reach CSC Tournament final

Kaynor Tech's Egypt Santos (20) has had a big role
in getting her team to the CSC Tournament final.
The Kaynor Tech girls basketball team has reached the Constitution State Conference Tournament final.
The Panthers will face top-seeded and perennial power Capital Prep on Saturday at 5 p.m. at the University of Saint Joseph in West Hartford. Kaynor Tech, led by head coach Brian Stasaitis, clinched its spot in the final with a 57-41 home win in the semifinals over Windham Tech. The Panthers edged out Prince Tech 56-53 in the first round.
Capital Prep, on the other hand, has rolled to 58-23 and 71-21 wins in its first two games of the CSC Tournament.
In the semifinal, Kaynor used the offensive combination of Egypt Santos, Cassie Couture and Sarah Wisniewski to get past Windham. In the quarterfinal against Prince, the Panther offense was led by Santos, Couture and Wisniewski. On the backboards, Santos and Roberta King both reached double digits in rebounds.
Kaynor Tech and Capital Prep didn't meet during the regular season. The Panthers are the No. 2 seed in the CSC Tournament.

Eight local girls hoop teams qualify for state tournament play

All-Brass Division players Armani Weaver of WCA (left) and Izzy Plant of Holy Cross (right) helped their teams get to the state tournament.
The CIAC girls basketball state tournament brackets have been released, and the first game will be played by Waterbury Career Academy.
Thirty-three teams qualified in Class M, and since the Spartans (8-12 regular season) are the No. 32 seed, they have to play in a qualifying round matchup against No. 33 Kaynor Tech (8-12). WCA will host the game this Friday at 6 p.m., with the winner getting top-seeded Suffield (18-2) of the North Central Connecticut Conference. That game would be on Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Suffield.
Class L and Class S begin first round play on Monday, followed by Class LL and Class L on Tuesday.
Holy Cross (19-1) has the best seed of any area team, and you don't get better than No. 1. Because the CIAC wants to fill each bracket with 32 teams, four 5-15 teams qualified in Class L, and one of those is No. 32 Crosby. The Crusaders will host those Bulldogs at 7 p.m. in The Pit. Holy Cross won both regular season games easily over Crosby.
Kennedy (15-5) is the No. 6 seed in Class L and will play No. 27 Nonnewaug (7-13) of the Berkshire League at 7 p.m. inside Jack Taglia Gymnasium.
In Class S, Sacred Heart (13-7) is No. 16, the last seed to be able to host a home game in a 32-team bracket. The Hearts will entertain No. 17 Putnam (13-7) of the Constitution State Conference at 7 p.m. inside Alumni Hall.
When Class LL begins Tuesday, Bristol Eastern (15-5) will be in the friendly confines of the Thomas M. Monahan Gymnasium. The No. 15 seed will host No. 18 Lyman Hall (13-7) of the Southern Connecticut Conference at 7 p.m.
Several locals occupy seeds in Class M, including the previously mentioned WCA. St. Paul (17-3) has the best seed at No. 7, and it will take on No. 26 Griswold (11-9) of the Eastern Connecticut Conference at 7 p.m. in the gym on Maltby Street. 
No. 15 Kaynor Tech (14-6) also gets to host a first round game and will square off with No. 18 Rocky Hill (13-7) of the Central Connecticut Conference at 7 p.m.
Wolcott (11-9) is the No. 24 seed and the only local to be taking a real road trip for its first game. The Eagles will head out to No. 9 Waterford (16-4) of the Eastern Connecticut Conference for a 7 p.m. game.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

INDOOR TRACK AND FIELD STATE OPEN: Wilkins, Williams finish in Top 4 in 55-meter hurdles

Several local athletes took part in the indoor track and field State Open on Monday at New Haven's Floyd Little Athletic Center.
The best event of the day for area athletes was the boys 55-meter hurdles. Kaynor Tech senior Jordon Wilkins finished second out of seven competitors, and Sacred Heart sophomore Edward Williams was fourth.
Bristol Central's 4x200-meter relay of senior Kaynan Conrod, senior Sean Fitzgerald, junior Nigel West and senior Luis Medina placed seventh out of 16 teams. The Ram 4x400 relay of junior Pat Kjornrattanawanich, Fitzgerald, Medina and Conrod took 11th. Central junior Shy-Ann Whitten took 11th in the high jump.
Bristol Eastern had one competitor in the open, senior Christopher LeBeau, and he placed 16th in the 600 meters.

Bristol Central boys top Bristol Eastern in electric atmosphere at BCHS

Bristol Eastern's Tyler Mason looks to pass as Bristol Central defenders Mike Lemke (left) and Dathan Hickey (20) keep their eyes on him.
The Bristol Central-Bristol Eastern boys basketball game Monday night provided the best energy I've seen this season.
The Charles C. Marsh Gymnasium on the campus of Bristol Central High School was electric. It wasn't sold out, but it felt like a sellout with the amount of noise and intensity in the gym.
It didn't matter that Central entered the game at 9-10 and Eastern just 5-13. When it's the Rams and Lancers, throw out the records. It's going to be a battle.
Monday provided yet another good game in the Central-Eastern rivalry, with the home delighting its fans in a 68-62 victory. 
The Lancers held a 34-25 lead after a contentious first half that featured a double technical foul during free throws. In the third quarter, things really began to heat up. Central senior Luis Diaz stole the ball and raced down the floor, only to be fouled hard by Eastern senior Roderick Jenkins. A flagrant foul was called, but Diaz missed both foul shots.
Bristol Eastern's Roderick Jenkins looks to inbound the ball
to teammate Carter Dziedzic (under the basket).
The score at the time was 40-38 Lancers. By the end of the third quarter, the Rams held a 41-40 lead.
Central senior Aaron Collins took over from there. The guard scored 10 of his team-high 21 points in the final eight minutes, including a big 3-pointer and a big three-point play. Junior Jaekwon Spencer helped control the boards and scored 18 points for the game. Senior Mike Lemke and junior Alex Bernier each had 11 points in a balanced Ram attack.
Jenkins led Eastern with a game-high 23 points. Sophomore Carter Dziedzic tallied 15 points while junior Nate Silva had nine points. Senior big man Tom Gonzalez had six points before fouling out.
The Lancers showed plenty of fight for a team with just five wins (5-14 after Monday night). Eastern will lose Jenkins, Gonzalez, Jake Viollette and Justin Blake to graduation, but will see Dziedzic and Silva return. 
Tyler Mason is slated to be back, as is Matt D'Amato, Naimer Heylinger, Christian Davis, Camryn Tate, Ariza Kolloverja and Rajon Collins. All saw action Monday night, and D'Amato and Davis are only freshmen. Those players now have the experience of Eastern-Central under their belts. That will only help them next season.
Central has shown its youth and inexperience at times this season, but there's also plenty of talent. The Rams finished the regular season at 10-10. Central had an outside chance of making the CCC Tournament, but they are definitely in the Class L state tournament. As of now, Central is the No. 23 seed, but there are still regular season games left, so that can change.
If the Rams can play with the fire they did against the Lancers, they could be a tough out in the postseason.

NVL GIRLS SEMIFINAL: Holy Cross jumps out quickly, then holds on against Torrington

Holy Cross senior Idalis Miranda goes in for a basket off of the opening tip.
When you see the final score of Monday night's NVL Tournament semifinal, 59-48, you would think top-seeded Holy Cross won going away against No. 4 Torrington.
Absolutely not.
The Lady Raiders rallied not once but twice and made the Crusaders work for the win.
The way the game started, it seemed Holy Cross had won by knockout. Senior Idalis Miranda scored off the opening tip, and the Crusaders never stopped running on their way to an 18-2 lead after one quarter. Holy Cross' defensive pressure bothered Torrington, and the Lady Raiders were hurt by the foul trouble of senior star Brie Pergola.
Holy Cross senior Izzy Plant's main job was to shadow Torrington senior star Brie Pergola,
but she ended up leading the Crusaders with 14 points.
The Crusaders also got an emotional lift when junior Century McCartney saw her first playing time of the season. McCartney missed the entire regular season and the first NVL game while coming back from knee surgery.
Holy Cross seemed well on its way to the final, then Torrington went off and cut the deficit to one point before trailing 29-26 at halftime. Again the Crusaders built a lead in the second half, and again the Lady Raiders rallied, closing within four points. Holy Cross was able to hold off Torrington and secure a date in the final with No. 2 St. Paul, a 44-38 winner over No. 6 Kennedy. Senior Izzy Plant served as leading scorer (14 points) and Pergola's shadow on defense. Pergola, a tremendous All-NVL player, still ended up with a game-high 18 points. Torrington senior Alexis Tyrrell added 12 points. 
For Holy Cross, Miranda scored 13 points and junior Aiyana Ward tallied eight points. Junior Meah Austin and sophomore Hannah Brown had seven points each.

Statistics reported on The Zone website

NVL GIRLS SEMIFINAL: St. Paul avenges last season's loss to Kennedy

St. Paul senior Brigid Johndrow puts in two of her 11 points in her team's 44-38 NVL semifinal win over Kennedy.
It was a big evening at the Jack Taglia Gymnasium at Kennedy High School.
This year's NVL Tournament semifinals featured plenty of familiarity. In the first game, second-seeded St. Paul took on No. 6 Kennedy in a rematch of last year's semifinal.
The Falcons beat the Eagles 44-38 to reach the final for the first time since 2014.
St. Paul will face top-seeded Holy Cross, a 59-48 winner over No. 4 Torrington, in the final on Wednesday night at Kennedy.
St. Paul freshman Jade Udoh (24) led her team with 14 points.
In a game where both sides struggled to find their offenses, the Falcons had just enough to edge out the Eagles on their home floor. Freshman Jade Udoh was big inside for St. Paul and led the way with 14 points. Senior Brigid Johndrow struggled at points, but ended up with 11 points, including some key baskets. The Falcons got four points each from senior Lexi Morneault, senior Alexandria Mourges and junior Molly Hooks.
Two free throws from Udoh gave St. Paul its biggest lead of the first half, 18-10 with 5:17 left in the first half. From there, Kennedy closed the gap behind senior Joyce Benton. Benton scored the last six Eagle points of the half and put her team ahead 21-19 with free throws late in the half.
Johndrow responded with the first of her big baskets, a coast-to-coast layup to tie the game at 21 at the half.
The teams slogged through a 10-3 St. Paul third quarter, which put the No. 2 seed ahead 31-24 with eight minutes to go. Johndrow had six of her points in the third quarter. Morneault had a basket to open the quarter, then Udoh scored off an offensive rebound after the Falcons had a bevy of chances.
Kennedy sophomore Shyan Perez went for 3 to make the score 31-27 early in the fourth quarter, and the Eagles later closed to 33-31 on a Benton bucket. It was the closest Kennedy got.
Hooks scored, then Johndrow and Udoh worked a sweet give-and-go off an inbound pass to put St. Paul up 37-32. Udoh then received a pass from Johndrow and scored to make it 39-34. 
Benton made the score 40-36 on two foul shots, then senior Raegon Shirling-Davis converted an offensive rebound with 18.2 to go to make it 42-38.
Johndrow and senior Amelia Sanchez converted foul shots in the final 15 seconds for the winning margin.
Benton led Kennedy with 18 points. Perez had six points while Shirling-Davis and sophomore Hannah West tallied five points each. Junior Yakira Edwards rounded out the scoring with four points.