Friday, March 31, 2017

WRESTLING: Five Bristol athletes compete at NHSCA nationals

Five Bristol wrestlers competed in three different age groups at the National High School Coaches Association national championship tournaments in Virginia Beach, Va.
The fun part for Bristol coaches, especially Eastern's Bryant Lishness, is that none of these wrestlers are seniors. The competitors were three juniors, one sophomore and one freshman. Eastern saw Jordon Champagne (106 pounds), Trent Thompson (106), Justin Marshall (145) and Mikey Barrett (152) compete. The lone Central wrestler was Chris Trelli (106).
Trelli, Barrett and Marshall all finished with 3-2 records. Trelli and Barrett are juniors while Marshall is a sophomore. Champagne and Thompson each went 0-2. Champagne is a junior while Thompson is just a freshman.
Here's how the tournament went for each wrestler:

Trelli: He began the tournament by losing a 4-2 decision to Jack Wrocklage of Missouri in the Round of 32. 
Trelli responded with wins in the consolation rounds of 16 #1 and #2. Trelli won a 19-3 major decision over Alex Herald of Kentucky, then took a 5-2 decision over Landen Pfeiffer of Illinois. Trelli then took a 2-1 decision over Easton Amuro of California in the Consolation Round of 8 #1.
Trelli's run came to an end in the Consolation Round of 8 #2, where he lost a close 5-4 decision to Jonathan Consorti of Pennsylvania.
Barrett: Barrett also began the tournament with a loss, a 10-4 decision against Brady Chrisman of Ohio.
Barrett won three straight matches in the Consolation Bracket. Barrett won a 3-0 decision over Cody Cochran of Georgia in the Consolation Round of 64 #2, then claimed a 10-3 decision over Jaron Brown of Massachusetts in the Round of 32 #1. Barrett battled to a 1-0 decision over Keegan Mulhill of Montana in the Round of 32 #2.
Barrett's run ended with a 2-1 decision against Dillon Ross of New York.
Marshall: He was the lone wrestler from the Mum City to start the tournament with a win. Marshall won a 3-1 decision over Nicholas Rouse of New York in the Championship Round of 128. Marshall saw his Round of 64 match against Sam Dover of Ohio end 19 seconds in because of injury.
Marshall came back with a 3-1 decision over Dominique Dale of Georgia in the Consolation Round of 64 #2. In the Consolation Round of 32 #1, Marshall took a 16-0 tech fall over Hunter Cameron of Vermont.
Matthew Jewett of Texas ended Marshall's advance with a pin in 2:30 in the Round of 32 #2.
Champagne: He started with a Championship Round of 32 loss via pin (3:45) to Dylan Ryder of New York.
Champagne wrestled Andrew Smith of Alabama in the Consolation Round of 16 #1 and lost a 3-1 decision.
Thompson: He began his tournament with a Championship Round of 256 loss via pin (0:31) to John Lafferty of Massachusetts.
Thompson took on Messiah Pearson of Virginia in the Consolation Round of 128 #2 and lost via pin in 2:07.

HIGH 5 OF THE WEEK: Walker helps lead Pfeiffer offensive attack

Chandler Walker, Pfeiffer University softball
Walker (Pfeiffer athletics)

The junior centerfielder and former three-sport standout at Bristol Central is a big reason why the Falcons are flying high this season.
Walker is one of the leading hitters in the Pfeiffer lineup -- second in fact -- with a .369 batting average. She is tied for second on the team in homers with four, tied for third in doubles with nine, fourth in RBI with 22 and tied for fourth in runs scored with 24. Walker also has 13 stolen bases in 15 attempts.
In one 12-game stretch, Walker hit a blistering .513 with 11 extra-base hits. Last weekend, she had a three-run homer as Pfeiffer, ranked ninth in the country, swept Lees-McRae.
On March 18, Walker homered twice in a 7-0 win over Converse. She has had a season-high three RBI on three different occasions, including the previously mentioned game against Converse.
Pfeiffer is 31-3 (9-1 in conference play) heading into a April Fools' Day doubleheader against Emmanuel (Georgia).

Buchas (Post athletics)
Trevor Buchas, Post University lacrosse
The senior and Bristol native scored the game-winning goal in an 8-7 win over St. Thomas Aquinas on Wednesday afternoon at LaMoy Field.
Jack Kearney came up with a steal and found Buchas, and the Xavier High School (Middletown) graduate did the rest. Buchas' goal came with 2:04 left in overtime. Buchas is a single point away from becoming the first player in Post history to garner 100 career points. He had two goals in the win over St. Thomas Aquinas.
Buchas has a team-leading 14 goals and is tied for the lead in points with 18. He has two or more goals in five of his team's seven games so far this season, including four against Saint Rose last Wednesday.



Cassie Ruscz, Tufts University softball
Ruscz (Tufts athletics)

The Wolcott native had a monster game against Wellesley during the Jumbos' spring trip to Clermont, Fla.
Tufts won 12-2 last Saturday, and Ruscz unloaded with her bat. Ruscz came up with the bases loaded in the bottom of the second inning and smacked a grand slam in what was a six-run frame for the Jumbos. Tufts got five more runs in the third, and Ruscz drove in two of them with a double. She finished the game 2-for-2 with the six RBI, plus two runs scored and a walk.
Tufts has played 14 games so far this season (9-5), and Ruscz leads the Jumbos in home runs (4), RBI (15), doubles (4) and slugging percentage (.805).
Ruscz is a graduate of Taft School in Watertown.


Mulhall (Fairfield athletics)
James Mulhall, Fairfield University rowing
This Sacred Heart graduate was part of a first place finish in the season-opening event last Saturday in Northampton, Mass.
Mulhall's was part of the varsity eight that won the first race over UConn and the host Amherst. The varsity eight completed the event in 6:13. Fairfield went on to defeat UConn and Amherst in the day-long meet.
Mulhall is a junior from Watertown and is listed as port/starboard for his position. Fairfield is scheduled to host conference foes Manhattan and Iona on Saturday in Shelton.





Dom Mascolo, Lasell College baseball
Mascolo (Lasell athletics)

It's early in the season, but this Holy Cross graduate is swinging a hot bat for the Lasers.
Mascolo has played in 10 of his team's 11 games and is hitting a robust .424, which leads the team for those who have enough at bats to qualify. Mascolo also leads Lasell outright in hits (14), doubles (5), RBI (9), on-base percentage (.513) and slugging percentage (.758).
In a video game-like 24-16 loss to Old Westbury on March 14, Mascolo was 3-for-5 with two doubles, a homer, five RBI, two runs scored and a walk.
Mascolo has had two or more hits in four games and at least one double in four games. He is a junior at Lasell. 

Monday, March 27, 2017

Waterbury's Walter Wright played against Final Four participant Oregon

Wright (Montana athletics)
Oregon took down Kansas in Kansas City, Missouri, over the weekend to reach its second-ever Final Four.
One player who has seen the Ducks up close is Waterbury native Walter Wright, a former standout at Wilby High School. Wright and his University of Montana men's basketball team played Oregon in Eugene on Dec. 13 and lost 81-67.
Wright played 23 minutes against Oregon and scored 12 points. He was 5-of-12 from the field, 2-of-6 at the foul line, and had three steals. Wright had two assists, three turnovers and committed four personal fouls in the game.
The Griz were down just four points at halftime, 38-34, before the Ducks pulled away in the second half.
"They're good individually, but as a team, that's what puts them over the top," Wright said in a phone interview Monday.
That point has been validated by what Oregon has done after losing Chris Boucher. Boucher tore his ACL in the PAC-12 Tournament, yet the Ducks are in the Final Four.
"I think that the system they have, the players they have," Wright said. "Dillon Brooks is a great leader. Their bigs are very good."
Wright also played against Gonzaga and Kansas as a junior at Montana. The Griz actually led Gonzaga in the final minute of the fourth quarter, but an offensive rebound and bucket gave the game to The Zags.
Wright said last season's Kansas team was the best he played against. This season's Jayhawks were a No. 1 seed playing in Kansas City, less than 45 minutes from their campus, but the Ducks prevailed.
"For Oregon to go out there and get that win, that says a lot about them," Wright said.
Montana was built for speed after losing Martin Breunig to graduation. The Griz wanted to make the Ducks uncomfortable and take them out of their game, Wright said. Boucher turned out to be the deciding factor with 23 points, 19 rebounds and five blocks.
So how is Oregon in the Final Four without Boucher? Wright knows the answer.
"They have guys that can fill in and step up any given night," Wright said.
Oregon's talented team will be a tough out in the Final Four.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Petteway, NW Florida State lose to South Plains in NJCAA third place game

Petteway (NW Florida State athletics)
Northwest Florida State College's terrific season came to a tough end over the past two nights in the NJCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship in Hutchinson, Kansas.
After losing to Hutchinson in a semifinal game on Friday, the Raiders were blitzed by South Plains 103-75 in the third place game on Saturday night in Hutchinson Sports Arena.
It was the final NW Florida State game for Petteway, who was in his sophomore season at the two-year junior college.
Petteway played 20 minutes, scored four points and grabbed four rebounds. He shot 1-of-5 from the floor and 2-of-2 at the foul line. Petteway had one block, one steal, two turnovers and three personal fouls.
The Raiders finished the season with a record of 29-5. Petteway started all 34 games and played 23.4 minutes per contest. His final averages were 8.9 points, 6.9 rebounds, 1.1 steals and 0.7 blocks.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Petteway, NW Florida State fall in NJCAA semifinal

No. 8 Northwest Florida State College will be playing on Saturday in the NJCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship in Hutchinson, Kansas.
Unfortunately, the Raiders will be playing in the third place game at 6 p.m. NW Florida State saw its quest for a second national championship in three seasons ended by No. 4 Hutchinson, 88-79 on Friday night in the Hutchinson Sports Arena.
It was the second-to-last Raider game for sophomore Malik Petteway, a former Sacred Heart High School standout. Petteway played 28 minutes and grabbed eight rebounds. He had two points on 1-of-4 shooting, dished out two assists and collected one steal.
NW Florida State fell to 29-4 on the season. It's a terrific record, and the Raiders can still end with 30 wins on the season, but it's not the ultimate prize they coveted.

Distinct local connection on Anna Maria College football coaching staff

Mulrooney (Anna Maria athletics)
When you look at first-year head coach Dan Mulrooney's football staff at Anna Maria College, you will note some very local ties.
Here's some info about each of the local coaches:

Dan Mulrooney
Mulrooney was a standout football player at Holy Cross High School. While with the Crusaders, Mulrooney was an All-NVL and all-state performer and helped his team to two state championships.
Mulrooney was named head coach of Anna Maria in the winter of 2016. He will also serve as the defensive coordinator. Mulrooney played college football at both Boston College and Stony Brook University. 


On Mulrooney's staff are Matt Coyne and CJ McIntosh. Coyne will be the offensive coordinator while McIntosh is a graduate assistant.

Coyne (Anna Maria athletics)
Matt Coyne
McIntosh (WCSU athletics)

Coyne played his high school ball at Bristol Central from 2005-2007 and still ranks as the Mum City's all-time leading passer. Coyne went on to play his college football at Williams College and Wesleyan University. Coyne started at quarterback at Wesleyan for two seasons.

CJ McIntosh
Like Mulrooney, McIntosh played high school football for Holy Cross. He went on to King's College, then Western Connecticut State University.

Former Sacred Heart coach Garofalo hits career milestone at Post

Garofalo (Post athletics)
Tracy Garofalo has had a long relationship with softball in the city of Waterbury, and she just hit a coaching milestone.
Garofalo, a former Sacred Heart High School head coach, earned her 200th career victory as Post University's leader. The milestone win came in a doubleheader sweep of the University of Bridgeport on Tuesday. Garofalo is in her 10th season as head coach of the Eagles.
Post knocked off Bridgeport 3-2 and 4-3 (8 innings) at LaMoy Field in Waterbury. With the wins, Garofalo increased her program record for most victories at an even 200. The Eagles trailed 3-0 in the sixth inning of the second game, but were able to rally for the win and give Garofalo her milestone achievement. The wins are the most since the program moved to Division II of the NCAA.
Garofalo was a tremendous two-sport athlete at Post. She went on to coach in both the girls basketball and softball programs at Sacred Heart. Garofalo was an assistant on the basketball staff and a head coach for softball. 
In 2005, Garofalo led the Heart softball team to 12-8 regular season. Sacred Heart then went on a magical run and reached the Class S semifinals, where it lost 2-0 to Thomaston at West Haven High School. The Hearts were the No. 15 seed, but took down No. 18 Abbott Tech, No. 31 Old Lyme and No. 7 St. Paul Catholic to reach the semifinal round.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Petteway and NW Florida State pull off upset of top seed

In the upset of the tournament, No. 8 Northwest Florida State and Malik Petteway knocked off top-seeded San Jacinto-Central 98-82 in a NJCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship quarterfinal Thursday.
No. 5 Odessa College and Tyshon Rogers saw their season come to an end in an 89-86 loss to No. 4 Hutchinson on Hutchinson's home floor.
Here's what happened in each game, along with what's ahead for Friday:

No. 8 Northwest Florida State 98, No. 1 San Jacinto-Central 82
Eight seconds into the game, Petteway made his presence known with an offensive rebound.
On the defensive end, Petteway announced himself with a loud blocked shot 1:16 in. Petteway helped set the tone for the Raiders, who ran away from the championship's top seed. Petteway scored just five points in 30 minutes, but he made a major impact underneath the basket on both ends. He had 14 rebounds and two blocked shots.
Petteway finished 1-of-3 from the floor and 3-of-7 at the foul line. He also had one assist in the game.
Northwest Florida State (29-3) will play No. 4 Hutchinson on its home floor, the Hutchinson Sports Arena, on Friday at 7 p.m. in the first semifinal game.

No. 4 Hutchinson 89, No. 5 Odessa 86
The Wranglers were ahead of the crowd favorite by 17 points in the first half, but the Blue Dragons rallied and took the win.
Rogers played 11 minutes and scored two points on 1-of-3 shooting, including a miss on his only three-point attempt. He had three rebounds and two turnovers in his final game with the Wranglers.
Odessa finishes the season with a 28-6 record.

Rogers and Odessa move on, Chapman and Monroe eliminated at NJCAA's

Odessa is moving on in the NJCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship in Hutchinson, Kansas, and Tyshon Rogers did his part off the bench.
On the other side of the bracket, Jarron Chapman and Monroe College were ousted.
Here's what happened in each game, along with what's coming up today:

No. 5 Odessa 83, No. 12 Gillette 76
Rogers came off the bench and scored eight points in 11 minutes in the second round matchup. He was 2-of-5 from the floor and 4-of-4 at the foul line. Rogers had one steal and one rebound. 

No. 6 Eastern Florida State 89, No. 22 Monroe College 72
Chapman started and scored seven points in 25 minutes in the second round game. He was 3-of-7 from the floor and made his one three-point attempt. Chapman had one rebound, one assist and one steal. 
Monroe finished the season with a record of 24-11.


TODAY'S ACTION 
Malik Petteway and No. 8 Northwest Florida State (28-3) play top-seeded San Jacinto-Central in a quarterfinal game at 1 p.m. 
In the evening, Tyshon Rogers and No. 5 Odessa (28-5) face No. 4 Hutchinson in a quarterfinal contest at 7 o'clock. Odessa will be playing on Hutchinson's home floor, the Hutchinson Sports Arena.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

HIGH 5 OF THE WEEK: Mallory chosen as Division II All-American

Mike Mallory, Southern Connecticut State University basketball
Mallory (SCSU athletics)

The former Holy Cross and Marianapolis Prep star was named an All-American by the Division II Conference Commissioner's Association.
Mallory was chosen to play in the Reece's Division II College all-star game, which will take place on Friday. The game is in Sioux Falls, S.D.
Mallory was the only player in the region to average at least 23 points, 4.5 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 1.3 blocks and 1 steal per game. Mallory's individual accomplishments are amazing -- the Northeast-10 Conference's all-time leading scorer and holder of 11 SCSU records. He was also part of four straight NCAA qualifiers. Mallory was a key cog in the winningest class in the history of SCSU men's basketball.
In 2014, Mallory helped get the Owls to the Elite Eight of NCAA's Division II while having success as a freshman. The success continued for Mallory throughout his career, and he had a great run with the Owls.

Gioielli (CCSU athletics)
Joe Gioielli, Central Connecticut State University track and field
The senior from Wolcott earned not one but two postseason honors in his final indoor track and field season.
Gioielli was NEC Indoor Men's All-Conference Second Team in two individual events, the only athlete to do it. Gioielli earned the honor in the 800 meters and the mile. He had a time of 1:52.20 in the 800 and 4:13.29 in the mile.
Gioielli finished second in both the 800 and the mile at the Northeast Conference Championships.

Gioielli is now focused on the outdoor track and field season. That season begins on April 1 with the CCSU Blue Devil Invite. Gioielli is the returning NEC outdoor champion in the 1500 meters. He was also a member of the winning 4x800 relay last season.

Plasczynski (WCSU athletics)
Charline Plasczynski, Western Connecticut State University softball
The freshman shortstop sure knows how to make a first impression.
All the former Bristol Eastern star did was bat .364 in her first eight games with one home run, two triples and a double. She had eight runs batted in and five runs scored. Plasczynski put up an impressive .727 slugging percentage during that span.
For her efforts, Plasczynski earned Little East Conference Softball Rookie of the Week honors. She was also solid on defense, compiling a .923 fielding percentage. Plasczynski made two errors in 26 chances.
Plasczynski picked up her first hit in a doubleheader against Rochester Institute on March 4. The home run was against St. Mary's of Indiana on March 12.
Western Connecticut State was in Florida through March 16, then went on a break. The first home games are slated to be March 26, a doubleheader against New England College.

Logan Marchi, Temple University football
Marchi (Temple athletics)

Temple football posted a spring update video on Tuesday, and the former St. Paul star Marchi was one of the players interviewed.
"Everybody brings something to the table, and we've got a good group of guys," Marchi said about himself and his fellow quarterbacks.
Marchi is one of five quarterbacks competing for the job vacated by standout Phillip Walker, who graduated. Marchi brings a little flair to the position, though he said he's also trying to improve his mechanics and work within the offense that the Owls run. 
Marchi said that Walker's shoes will be big ones to fill. Walker was a four-year starter.
Geoff Collins is now the Temple head coach, and the new offensive coordinator is Dave Patenaude. Patenaude prefers a higher-tempo offense, which Marchi played in while at St. Paul. College is obviously a higher level, but Marchi is working to get his chance.
Marchi did get some playing time behind Walker last season. He appeared in five games and completed two of six pass attempts for 29 yards.

Tariq Harris, Albertus Magnus College baseball
Harris (Albertus Magnus athletics)

The Wilby standout has been all over the basepaths for the Falcons so far this season.
Harris has played in eight of Albertus Magnus' nine games, and he is one of the top hitters with a .357 batting average. Harris has 10 hits and 11 runs scored in 28 at bats. Besides the 10 hits, Harris has drawn seven walks, which is why he has a .472 on-base percentage. He has a double and a stolen base to go along with his five RBI.
Harris has been a key cog at the top of the Falcon batting order. He has had two hits or more in three games, including three in a loss to Emory & Henry on March 14. Harris has two or more runs scored in four games, including three in a March 15 loss to Lancaster Bible.




Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Chapman, Petteway win first games in NJCAA national tourney

Two games, two wins so far for Waterbury hoopers in the NJCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship in Hutchinson, Kansas.
Jarron Chapman (Crosby/Naugatuck) started for No. 22 Monroe College of New York in a first round game Monday against No. 11 Indian Hills. Chapman played 17 minutes in the 70-64 victory and scored eight points. He was 4-of-5 from the floor and turned the ball over twice. 
Monroe (23-10) will play No. 6 Eastern Florida State on Wednesday at 9 p.m. in Hutchinson Sports Arena.
Malik Petteway (Sacred Heart) started for No. 8 Northwest Florida State in a second round game Tuesday against No. 9 Jones County. Petteway played 29 minutes in the 91-79 win. He scored 11 points, grabbed seven rebounds and blocked three shots. Petteway was 4-of-7 from the field, 3-of-4 at the foul line. He did have issues with fouls, committing four in the game. 
Petteway put down a dunk late in the first half to pull NWFS to within 34-33. Two Petteway free throws after an offensive rebound put the Raiders ahead 41-40 early in the second half. NWFS outscored Jones 55-43 in the second half to claim the victory. 
The Raiders (28-3) will play top-seeded San Jacinto-Central in a quarterfinal round game Thursday at 1 p.m.
Tyshon Rogers (Crosby) and No. 5 Odessa play their first game of the championship Wednesday. Odessa goes up against No. 12 Gillette at 3 p.m. in a second round matchup.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Great run to the Sun by Holy Cross girls

Holy Cross' starting lineup huddles with head coach Frank Lombardo before Sunday's Class L final.
The final game of the 2016-2017 Holy Cross girls basketball team went down as a loss.
It happened to come in the Class L state final against Daniel Hand at Mohegan Sun Arena, and that's hard.
All of the above is true, but the Crusaders had a great run to the Sun. Holy Cross was coming off of a rough NVL Tournament final loss to St. Paul, but was still the top seed in Class L. The Crusaders coasted past Crosby in the first round, then downed Sheehan in the second round.
The first of a tough stretch of games awaited in the quarterfinal round. Guilford, battle-tested by the SCC, gave Holy Cross all it had up until the first couple minutes of the fourth quarter. Then the Crusaders broke away with a booming 20-0 run to end the game.
Just like that, Holy Cross was in the semifinal. Alas, an even bigger challenge awaited. Four-time defending state champion Capital Prep, a program with several Division I players to its credit, stood in the way of a ride to Mohegan Sun Arena.
And then it happened. Holy Cross took down Capital Prep. Unbelievable.
The Crusaders had reached the Sun. Yes, the final didn't go Cross' way, but that takes nothing away from what this team did. Credit goes to the Crusaders, who put in the hard work, from the players to head coach Frank Lombardo and assistant coaches Meg Dwyer and Marguerite Heyward.
"They deserve it," Lombardo said of his players. "They worked really hard."
A team doesn't reach the state title game without hard work. Hand proved to be the ultimate foe, but Cross worked hard as it always does. Senior Meghan Villano was tasked with halting Gabby Martin.
"Meghan Villano did a tremendous job on Hand's No. 3," Lombardo said.
Villano also put in five points, including a 3-pointer. Senior Idalis Miranda led the team with nine points in her final game, and she did so facing a ton of pressure from Hand. Senior Isabel Plant, not counted upon to score, contributed seven points.
Junior Century McCartney had five points, but more importantly battled her way to 12 rebounds. McCartney needed to be more heavily relied upon with the foul trouble that plagued fellow juniors Aiyana Ward and Meah Austin.
"[Hand] packed in their zone trying to stop Aiyana and Meah," Lombardo said.
Were there calls that could have gone Cross' way inside? Sure, and that happens.
"When you don't get a close call, it hurts because it takes time off the clock," Lombardo said.
Foul trouble also forces others to play roles they are not accustomed to playing. Lombardo, however, gave credit to Hand, especially its defense. The Tigers forced the Crusaders to take outside shots, and not enough fell.
"I thought it was a tremendous game," Lombardo said. "I thought it was a well-played game."
Miranda, Plant and Villano are gone next season, as are Gabby Goldman, Allison Orsini, Andrea Pettinico and Nevya Vermette. Holy Cross will need to replace scoring, ball-handling and leadership. These seniors helped produce 25 wins and a state title game berth. That will be a tall target to aim for.
On the flip side, McCartney will be back for a full season. So will Ward and Austin, who were a tough 1-2 inside punch all season long. There's also sisters Hannah and Allie Brown. Both put in significant time this season, with Hannah playing 17 minutes in the state championship game as a sophomore (6 points, 3 assists, 2 rebounds, 1 steal).
Devan Eason and Julia Mecca had valuable experience as juniors and will be asked to take on more of a role next season as seniors. Also expected to return as a senior is Meghan Mazzatto. Natalie Hodak saw time as a freshman and will be a sophomore next season.
It was a great season for Holy Cross girls basketball, and next season has promise in it as well.  

Sacred Heart boys worked hard, proved doubters wrong and earned program's fourth straight championship

Sacred Heart waits out the final seconds of its fourth straight state championship.
It takes hard work, determination, dedication and talent to win a state championship.
Sprinkle in plenty of doubt from outsiders, and the ingredients are there for a satisfying journey. 
The Sacred Heart boys basketball program entered the 2016-2017 season with three straight state championships, but there were also questions and doubts. Gone were Mustapha Heron, Tyrn Flowers, Charles Fisher and J.T. Riddick from a dominant team in 2015-2016. Heron went on to have a terrific freshman season at Auburn. Flowers moved on to UMass, and Flowers went right down the road to Post University.
The Hearts pose for a team photo.
There was already talent on the bench for head coach Jon Carroll, and it became enriched with the additions of junior Isaiah Gaiter and sophomore Omar Rowe. Seniors like Legend Johnson and Courie Stevenson had been there already for three straight titles.
"We knew what it took from the beginning of the season," Johnson said. "We told them it was going to be a lot of hard work."
"We came here with a similar attitude to what we had the first few years," Stevenson said. "We just all competed every day against each other."
There were close shaves along the way during a 20-0 regular season. Several Brass City foes threw their best punch at Sacred Heart, but the Hearts kept chugging along. Sacred Heart was also tested by out-of-state opponents Benjamin Cardozo and South Shore, and those games helped as well.
The Hearts were able to get through the NVL Tournament and win a title, including back-to-back wins over Crosby and Holy Cross to finish it off.
Sacred Heart didn't emerge unscathed though. Junior standout Raheem Solomon was lost for the Class L state tournament with a knee injury. Many different players could turn it up for the Hearts, but none more than Solomon.
A four-peat was certainly sweet for the Sacred Heart boys basketball program.
What would happen without him? The doubters certainly had their thoughts, but so did the Hearts. Down went Joel Barlow in the first round, followed by Northwest Catholic, Windsor Middletown and finally Notre Dame-Fairfield in a rematch of last season's Class M final, with Heron in attendance.
"They said we would be out in the second round, and we proved them wrong," Johnson said of the doubters.
"They told us we wouldn’t were going to win this, weren’t going to finish undefeated," Stevenson said.
Not without Heron. Not without Flowers. Not without Fisher. And no way without Solomon.
How wrong those predictions turned out to be.
Johnson didn't hesitate when asked whether this was the most satisfying of the four titles.
"Of course," Johnson said with a smile. "Not only because I'm a senior, but there's no Mustapha, there's no Tyrn Flowers, no Charles Fisher. And then Raheem goes down. It speaks for itself."
"Sophomore year, I just kind of went with the flow," Stevenson said. "Last year I contributed a lot. For this one to be mine with my brothers, it actually means a lot."
Stevenson was proud to make history winning four straight state championships with Johnson.
Head coach Jon Carroll had nothing but praise for this team, one that he and assistant coaches Jay Seay and Darryl Parker pushed to be their best.
"I couldn’t be prouder of this group," Carroll said. "It’s really one of the most enjoyable coaching experiences that I’ve had."
Sacred Heart's players celebrate with the student section, also known as the SuperFans.
Johnson and Stevenson are gone, along with Peyton Stephens, Nahzir Ivester and Tariq Price. 
But here's the thing. 
Solomon is sure to be hungry for his senior season after injury halted his junior campaign. Gaiter, Rowe and Mikey West are also back, along with all those who pushed this team to be the best it could be. Solomon and Gaiter will be seniors, but they are not the only ones. Andre Anderson, Francis Barton, Noah Francisco, Michael Napolitano, Garrett Jones and Zachary Francisco will be seniors. West and Rowe will be key parts of the equation as juniors, and Gailey Etienne will also be a junior.
The contributions of Solomon, Gaiter, Rowe and West have been well documented, but all those other players helped push this team to be the best it can be. And getting back to Mohegan Sun Arena for a title shot is plenty motivation. 
We may as well wait until the ball is thrown up next season before making any predictions. This team showed that hard work, dedication, determination and talent can overcome doubt and adversity.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Run comes to a tough end for Holy Cross girls in Class L final

Holy Cross' Century McCartney finds herself surrounded by Hand's Sara Wohlgemuth (15), Colleen Caruth (12) and Halle Freund (10).
The top-seeded Holy Cross girls basketball team went into halftime of Sunday's Class L state title game up five points on second-seeded Daniel Hand at Mohegan Sun Arena.
In the second half, the Tigers used their athleticism and a packed-in zone to take control, and the Crusader shots didn’t drop. Hand scored the last six points of the third quarter, then four more to start the fourth to lead 45-40. The Crusaders got within two points, but couldn't muster enough offense to get all the way back. Hand held on for a 50-45 win, a Class L state championship, and a 26-2 record. Holy Cross ended one win shy of the ultimate goal at 25-3.
It was the final game in a Crusader uniform for seniors Idalis Miranda, Isabel Plant, Meghan Villano, Gabby Goldman, Allison Orsini, Andrea Pettinico and Nevya Vermette.
[Hand] didn't back down," Holy Cross head coach Frank Lombardo said outside the locker room. "It could have went our way, but the ball didn't bounce our way."
Miranda had nine points to lead the Crusaders. No one scored in double figures for Holy Cross, which got seven points from Plant, along with six from Hannah Brown and five each from Villano, Aiyana Ward and Century McCartney. McCartney also had 12 rebounds. Austin pulled in seven while Ward grabbed six. A big minus for the Crusaders were their 26 turnovers.
Holy Cross' Aiyana Ward challenges the shot of Hand's Gabby Egidio while teammates
Devan Eason (11) and Allie Brown (20) look on.
"I thought we dribbled way too much into traffic," Lombardo said.
A lot of that had to do with the defensive effort of the Tigers. There were times when a Holy Cross dribbler thought she had the edge, only to be run down from behind by a Hand defender. Gabby Egidio led the Tigers with six -- that's right, six -- steals. Kaitlyn Martin added four steals while Gabby Martin added three.
It is normal for a Holy Cross opponent to be worn out in the fourth quarter because of relentless pressure. Hand was not a normal opponent.
"I don't think they were tired," Lombardo said. "They took that away from us in the fourth quarter."
Hannah Brown brought the Crusaders within 3 at 47-44 at the 3:37 mark of the fourth quarter, but the top seed didn't get any closer. 
Holy Cross had its chances, in spite of the bevy the turnovers. There were open shots twice in a one-possession game that failed to drop.
"I thought we had some good looks," Lombardo said.
In the end, Hand had too much energy, too much length and too much tenacity. Holy Cross had to settle for second place in its first trip back to the state finals since 2007.
Still, take nothing away from how far the Crusaders went in the 2016-17 season. It was an amazing run after all.
"It's a tremendous accomplishment, what this team has done this year," Lombardo said.
Holy Cross won 25 games and got to the state final for the first time in 10 years. That's a lot to be proud of.

COMMENTARY: Sacred Heart boys use team effort to complete four-peat

From left to right, Sacred Heart's Isaiah Gaiter, Courie Stevenson and Mikey West cheer on
their teammates near the end of the Class L final on Sunday. The Hearts won their fourth straight state title.
It was another Sacred Heart boys basketball celebration on Sunday evening at Mohegan Sun Arena.
Four seasons, four straight state championships.
Amazing. Awesome. Incredible.
However you put it, Sacred Heart was all of those words and more in capturing its fourth straight state championship. The top-seeded Hearts took down second-seeded Notre Dame-Fairfield 75-53 and finished another perfect season at 28-0.
This is the same team that lost Raheem Solomon before the Class L state tournament ever began. This is the same team many doubted.
The Hearts lost Solomon, but they were still a TEAM. Now everyone in the state must recognize this team for what it is – state champions. And everyone must recognize what this program has done – win four straight state championships.
Senior Legend Johnson calls out the play as West and Rowe look on.
Legend Johnson and Courie Stevenson leave as four-time state champions. It was an amazing run, one that will go down in the archives of high school basketball in this state.
There were newcomers like Isaiah Gaiter and Omar Rowe. Both were needed as the Hearts program lost Mustapha Heron, Tyrn Flowers, Charles Fisher and JT Riddick to graduation.
In the state championship game on Sunday, Sacred Heart showed what a great TEAM it was.
Gaiter had 24 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks. He was one of four Hearts in double figures.
Rowe was a big presence inside early and often, finishing with 18 points and nine rebounds. Johnson had 10 points and nine rebounds in his last game while Stevenson added 10 points and four steals.

Mikey West had only three points, but he was the floor general, bringing the ball up the floor. 
Stevenson and Gaiter -- a terrific 1-2 punch on the fast break.
The Hearts put on an absolute fast break clinic at times, the ball moving quickly from one player to the other.
What made this Sacred Heart team so tough to deal with was its versatility. There were a plethora of players who can bring the ball up. When need be, Gaiter, Stevenson, Johnson and West can all be their own one-man fast break. Each can pull down a rebound and start the break by themselves.
The unselfishness of this team made it a joy to watch. When Sacred Heart moved the ball with precision, it was nearly impossible to stop. The Hearts could play fast and slow, which helps in the state tournament. Players like Rowe did the dirty work, grabbing rebounds and taking charges. Gaiter wasn't afraid to get his nose dirty and scrap inside. Johnson and Stevenson drove the ball hard to the basket, as did Gaiter. West came up with clutch outside shooting when left open.
Above all, this team was a team. And that team earned its four-peat.

STATE OPEN SWIMMING AND DIVING: Waterbury athletes go up against best of the best

The State Open boys swimming and diving meet was held Saturday at the Kiphuth Exhibition Pool on the campus of Yale University, and there was a Brass City flavor to it.
Waterbury swimmers from Holy Cross and Sacred Heart took part in the event, which always brings a boisterous crowd to the historic pool. There was also a Kaynor Tech diver who competed in Friday's Open diving in Middletown.
There was one Top 10 finish from the Brass City competitors, and it came from Sacred Heart junior Daniel Walsh. Walsh, who swam in the 200 and 500-yard freestyle races, came in eighth in the 200 freestyle. Walsh was 11th in the 500 freestyle.
Holy Cross' best individual finish was from junior Lucas Racevicius, who placed 13th in the 100 backstroke. The Holy Cross 200-yard medley relay was also 13th. The team members of that relay were Racevicius, plus sophomores Ben Bowler, John Tucker and Sam Mason.
The lone area diver was Kaynor Tech sophomore Matheus Silva. He finished 22th in the one-meter diving event.
Nearly all who competed for Waterbury schools in the Open will be back next season, so the future is bright.

Friday, March 17, 2017

CLASS L BOYS CHAMPIONSHIP: No. 1 Sacred Heart vs. No. 2 Notre Dame-Fairfield

The 2017 Class L boys championship game will be a rematch of last year's Class M final.
Top-seeded Sacred Heart will be going for a fourth straight state title. In its way is second-seeded Notre Dame-Fairfield, which is seeking revenge after last year's 101-49 beating. 
The Hearts come into the game -- Sunday at 5:30 p.m. at Mohegan Sun Arena -- with a perfect record of 27-0. The Lancers enter the contest at 25-2.
Sacred Heart can wrap up its ninth state championship with a win Sunday. The Hearts are 8-2 all-time in state title games and have won the last six times they played for the title.
Notre Dame-Fairfield is making its third straight state title game appearance, but still looking for its first championship. The Lancers are 0-3 in state title games.
Here's some more information on this game:

No. 1 Sacred Heart vs. No. 2 Notre Dame-Fairfield
When: Sunday, 5:30 p.m.
Where: Mohegan Sun Arena
Records: Sacred Heart 27-0; Notre Dame-Fairfield 25-2
Last year: Sacred Heart 101, Notre Dame-Fairfield 49 (Class M final)
How they got here: Sacred Heart -- 71-53 over No. 32 Joel Barlow (SWC); 58-41 over No. 16 Northwest Catholic (CCC); 58-52 over No. 9 Windsor (CCC); 70-56 over No. 4 Middletown (CCC). Notre Dame-Fairfield -- 69-53 over No. 31 New Fairfield (SWC); 62-59, OT, over No. 15 Career (SCC); 78-51 over No. 23 E.O. Smith (CCC); 81-61 over No. 6 Wilton (FCIAC).
Common opponent: Both team played Naugatuck, and both teams won.
Who makes Notre Dame-Fairfield go: Nori Davis scored 20 points in the semifinal win over Wilton. Tyler Bourne and Josh Reaves had 17 points each while Anthony Mongillo tallied nine. Bourne dropped 29 points in the overtime win over Career. Both Davis and Mongillo came up big in that game as well.
Who makes Sacred Heart go: Isaiah Gaiter, Legend Johnson, Courie Stevenson, Omar Rowe and Mikey West have all had big moments for the Hearts in this postseason. Gaiter has had some absolutely huge games, including the 23 points he put on Middletown in the semifinal. Johnson and Stevenson also come up with big plays, and Rowe has been clutch with rebounding, drawing offensive fouls, and sinking free throws. West has been a key ball-handler, but he has also drilled some big long-range shots.
The players (Name and number, followed by grade and height): Sacred Heart -- #0 Michael West (10, 5-foot-8), #1 Gaeley Etienne (10, 5-7); #2 Legend Johnson (12, 6-1); #4 Tariq Price (12, 6-4); #5 Courie Stevenson (12, 6-2); #12 Peyton Stephens (12, 6-1); #13 Omar Rowe (10, 6-4); #14 Isaiah Gaiter (11, 6-3); #15 Andre Anderson (11, 5-11); #21 Francis Barton (11, 6-2); #22 Noah Francisco (11, 6-0); #24 Nahzir Ivester (12, 5-10); #31 Michael Napolitano (11, 6-5); #32 Garrett Jones (11, 6-3); #33 Zachary Francisco (11, 6-4).
Championship history: Sacred Heart -- 8-2 -- 2016: 101-49 win over Notre Dame-Fairfield in Class M; 2015: 71-46 win over Valley Regional in Class S; 2014: 65-56 win over Valley Regional in Class S; 2009: 65-59 win over Bloomfield in Class M; 1997: 48-46 win over Northwest Catholic in Class M; 1984: 72-48 win over Weston in Class M; 1983: 73-57 loss to St. Thomas Aquinas in Class M; 1967: 70-57 win over Fairfield Prep in Class L; 1951: 44-39 loss to Derby in Class M; 1949: 41-31 win oer Darien in Class M. Notre Dame-Fairfield -- 0-3 -- 2016: 101-49 loss to Sacred Heart in Class M; 2015: 73-59 loss to Weaver in Class M; 1980: 68-65 loss to Pomperaug in Class M.  

CLASS L GIRLS CHAMPIONSHIP: No. 1 Holy Cross vs. No. 2 Daniel Hand

The Holy Cross girls basketball team has put the NVL Tournament championship loss to St. Paul behind it.
The Crusaders can claim the ultimate trophy -- the Class L state championship -- with a win on Sunday in the 3 p.m. game at Mohegan Sun Arena.
Top-seeded Holy Cross will face a strong foe in second-seeded Daniel Hand of Madison. The Tigers are from the Southern Connecticut Conference and own a record of 24-4.
Holy Cross seeks its first state championship since 2007, when it defeated Career Magnet 67-58 in the Class M final. That game was played in Detrick Gymnasium on the campus of Central Connecticut State University. 
Sunday's stage will be much bigger. It will be the first time Holy Cross has played for the title at Mohegan Sun Arena.
Daniel Hand makes its second-ever championship appearance, the first coming in 1999 when the Tigers took down Killingly 72-68 in the Class L final.
Here's some more information on this game:

No. 1 Holy Cross vs. No. 2 Daniel Hand (Madison)
When: Sunday, 3 p.m.
Where: Mohegan Sun Arena
Records: Holy Cross 25-2; Daniel Hand 24-4
How they got here: Holy Cross -- 83-31 over No. 32 Crosby (NVL); 59-34 over No. 16 Sheehan (SCC); 69-49 over No. 8 Guilford (SCC); 56-55 over No. 4 Capital Prep (CSC). Daniel Hand -- 78-30 over No. 31 Jonathan Law (SCC); 52-34 over No. 15 Windsor (CCC); 60-33 over No. 10 Woodstock Academy (ECC); 73-40 over No. 3 Pomperaug (SWC).
Common opponents: There are several of these. 

  • Mercy (Middletown) -- Holy Cross lost 58-37 in the third game of the season. Hand won all three games, including the SCC final.
  • Guilford -- Holy Cross won a Class L quarterfinal matchup. Hand won all three games, including a SCC quarterfinal.
  • Lauralton Hall (Milford) - Holy Cross and Hand won comfortably, with the Tigers taking two wins over their SCC foe.
Who makes Hand go: The Tigers are led by All-SCC First Team selections Gabby Martin and Gabby Egidio. Martin had 25 points, including the 1,000th in her career, in the semifinal win over Pomperaug. Emma Sullivan scored 12 points while Sara Wohlgemuth added 11.
Who makes Holy Cross go: Senior Idalis Miranda, junior Aiyana Ward, junior Meah Austin and junior Century McCartney. The Crusaders have also been steadied by the play of others like senior Isabel Plant. Ward scored 20 points in the huge semifinal win over four-time defending champion Capital Prep. McCartney had 16 in that game, and Austin added 11.
The players (Number and name, followed by grade and height: Holy Cross -- #3 Julia Mecca (11, 5-foot-3); #5 Andrea Pettinico (12, 5-4); #10 Meghan Villano (12, 5-4); #11 Hannah Brown (10, 5-4); #12 Isabel Plant (12, 5-5); #13 Idalis Miranda (12, 5-2); #14 Meah Austin (11, 5-10); #15 Allison Orsini (12, 5-5); #20 Allie Brown (10, 5-4); #23 Century McCartney (11, 5-9); #24 Natalie Hodak (9, 5-3); #25 Gabby Goldman (12, 5-5); #30 Devan Eason (11, 5-6); #31 Nevya Vermette (12, 5-8); #32 Aiyana Ward (11, 5-10). Daniel Hand -- #3 Gabby Martin (12, 5-5); #4 Hannah Martin (11, 5-7); #5 Emma Sullivan (11, 5-4); #10 Halle Freund (5-10); #12 Colleen Caruth (12, 5-10); #13 Anna Beccia (10, 5-6); #14 Summer Adams (9, 5-10); #15 Sara Wohlgemuth (9, 5-3); #20 Erickson Richard (10, 5-6), #22 Gabby Egidio (11, 5-5); #24 Kaitlyn Martin (12, 5-8).
Head coaches: Holy Cross -- Frank Lombardo. Daniel Hand -- Tim Tredwell.
Championship history: Holy Cross -- 1-3 -- 2007: 67-58 win over Career Magnet in Class M; 2006: 57-48 loss to Stonington in Class M; 2002: 73-43 loss to Guilford in Class L; 1988: 64-39 loss to Southington in Class LL. Daniel Hand -- 1-0 -- 1999: 72-68 win over Killingly in Class L.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Holy Cross finishes second in Class S boys swimming and diving

The Holy Cross boys swimming and diving team put up a strong effort at Thursday's Class S state meet at Wesleyan University in Middletown.
In the end, Brookfield was too much and claimed the state championship. The Bobcats scored 649 team points to 571 for the Crusaders. Sacred Heart finished sixth with 304 points. Kaynor Tech was 29th with 26 points.
Holy Cross began the meet with a win in the 200-yard medley relay behind the team of junior Lucas Racevicius, sophomore Ben Bowler, sophomore John Tucker and sophomore Sam Mason. The Crusader relay won the race in 1:39.79. Sacred Heart was fifth in the medley relay.
Holy Cross also claimed first in the 400 freestyle relay behind Racevicius, senior Ryan Hickey, Tucker and junior Chris Fryer. That relay finished the race in 3:21.06.
Sacred Heart junior Daniel Walsh took a state title in the next event, the 200 freestyle, in 1:43.96. Walsh also finished first in the 500 freestyle in 4:44.43.
In the third event of the day, Fryer and Racevicius went 1-2 in the 200 IM. Fryer won the race in 2:00.20, Racevicius was second in 2:00.77.
Tucker and Mason took fourth and fifth in the 50 freestyle.
Kaynor Tech sophomore Matheus Silva took third place in one-meter diving, which took place on March 9. Those were all the points scored for the Panthers.
Sacred Heart senior Ben Gomes contributed some good team points with his fourth place finish in diving. Holy Cross freshman Marcas Racevicius was eighth in diving.
Tucker was second in the 100 butterfly. Fryer and Mason were second and fourth in the 100 freestyle. 
Holy Cross took second in the 200 freestyle relay behind Mason, Hickey, sophomore Alex Ford and Fryer. Sacred Heart was fifth with its team of junior William Witkoski, senior Chris Bussey, sophomore Anthony Sagnella and Walsh.
Lucas Racevicius was third in the 100 backstroke while Bowler placed sixth in the 100 breaststroke.

Sacred Heart boys will join Holy Cross girls at Mohegan Sun Arena

Going into Thursday night, the Brass City had a shot at a unheard of championship weekend inside Mohegan Sun Arena.
There was a chance that five Waterbury teams -- including boys and girls from Holy Cross -- could have been playing for state titles. 
Unfortunately, there will be just two city teams in Uncasville, and both are playing Sunday. The Sacred Heart boys defeated Middletown 70-56 in the Class L state semifinal and will be joining the Holy Cross girls, who already punched their ticket in Class L.
The top-seeded Holy Cross girls will take on No. 2 Daniel Hand on Sunday at 3 p.m. in the Class L final. The No. 1 Sacred Heart boys play No. 2 Notre Dame-Fairfield in a rematch of the 2016 Class M championship game at 5:30 p.m. That is the last game of the two-day slate.
The Waterbury Career Academy, Holy Cross and Kennedy boys teams all saw great runs come to an end one game shy of the ultimate destination.

Class L semifinal
No. 1 Sacred Heart 70, No. 4 Middletown 56
The Hearts were up by just two points heading into the fourth quarter, but pulled away from the Blue Dragons in the final eight minutes.
Isaiah Gaiter was again a big-time player for Sacred Heart (27-0). He had help from usual suspects Legend Johnson and Courie Stevenson. The Hearts led 17-14 after one quarter, then extended the margin to 32-25 by halftime.
Middletown cut the margin to 40-38 by the end of the third quarter, but Sacred Heart outlasted both its opponent and a leaky ceiling at Hartford's Bulkeley High School to advance. The Hearts will play in their fourth straight state final, and they're doing it without Raheem Solomon. Solomon played much of the NVL title game hurt and was lost for the state tournament.
In the other semifinal, No. 2 Notre Dame-Fairfield routed No. 6 Wilton 81-61 at Fairfield Warde.

Class S semifinal
No. 6 Trinity Catholic (Stamford) 67, No. 23 Waterbury Career Academy 60
The Spartans were 13 points ahead and eight minutes from Uncasville, but they couldn't hold on.
Trinity Catholic outscored WCA 31-11 in the final eight minutes to pull off a stunning 67-60 victory at Danbury High School. The Crusaders actually trailed by 16 at one point in the third quarter after Kyren Petteway went off from the 3-point line for the Spartans.
Petteway and Marquan Watson helped WCA jump out to the double-digit lead, but it wasn't meant to be as the Spartans had a nightmare fourth quarter.
WCA, a team with one senior, finishes the season at 13-11. The Spartans lose Jalen Edwards to graduation, but are slated to return everyone else on their roster. WCA gained plenty of valuable experience this season, and it will be back stronger than ever next time around.
In the other semifinal, top-seeded Westbrook blasted No. 12 Aerospace 80-51 at Madison's Polson Middle School. Westbrook and Trinity play on Saturday at 12:30 for the Class S title.

Class M semifinal
No. 8 Bloomfield 74, No. 4 Holy Cross 65
It was also a case of what might have been for the Crusaders in their loss to the Warhawks at New Britain High School.
Holy Cross ran and dunked its way to a 35-27 halftime lead, but the second half was Bloomfield's. The Warhawks outscored the Crusaders by 15 points in the third quarter to take a 52-45 lead. Bloomfield pulled away after Holy Cross managed to cut the deficit to 61-60 late in the fourth quarter.
The Crusaders finish the season 19-6. Holy Cross loses Jack Potter, Warren Morrison and Anthony Muchiri to graduation. The junior nucleus of Nyzair Rountree, DeAndre Wallace, Marcellus Gomes and Kerson Etienne is slated to return, so the Crusaders will be a really good team next season.
In the other semifinal, No. 11 Brookfield edged out No. 10 Tolland 73-70 on Wednesday at Maloney High School in Meriden. The Class M state final is Sunday at 12:30 p.m.

Class LL semifinal
No. 4 East Hartford 59, No. 8 Kennedy 49
The Eagles cut their deficit to one point by halftime, but couldn't overtake the Hornets at the Floyd Little Athletic Center.
Kennedy trailed 24-23 at halftime, then East Hartford extended its advantage to 45-39 by the end of the third quarter. The Eagles closed within three points to open the fourth quarter, but couldn't get any closer.
Kennedy finishes the season at 20-6. The Eagles lose seniors Ty Sands, Alex Bruno, Tyvon Stenson, Chomari Joseph, Kasim Brown and Mike Shehu to graduation.
"A great season comes to an end for our Boys Basketball team. Thanks for a great run. The entire Kennedy family is proud of you!" read a tweet on the Kennedy High School account Thursday night.
In the other semifinal, No. 2 Hillhouse (New Haven) knocked off No. 3 East Catholic (Manchester) 53-45 at the University of Hartford. The Class LL state final is Saturday at 8:15 p.m.