Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Gaiter, Solomon lead Sacred Heart boys to another NVL win

Isiah Gaiter hit six 3-pointers on his way to 30 points in another NVL win for Sacred Heart.
(Copyright, Sports on CT-69)
Sacred Heart boys basketball continued to roll over the NVL on Tuesday night, dispatching Naugatuck by a 74-49 score.
Isiah Gaiter and Raheem Solomon combined to outscore the Greyhounds on their own, 52-49. Gaiter made six 3-pointers on the way to 30 points and Solomon tallied 22 points. Andre Anderson connected for 10 points and Connor Tierney added six.
Naugatuck started out hot behind the scoring of Jean Lukau. Lukau hit a 3 to open the scoring for the Greyhounds, then flew in for a layup. To make matters worse for Sacred Heart, Gaiter jammed his thumb going after the opening tip. Gaiter was out while Naugatuck made its early run, but returned quickly to the game.
After that, Sacred Heart took control. A missed shot or a turnover from the Greyhounds was the precursor to a Hearts fast break. Anderson fired a long pass to Gaiter for a layup, then Solomon tossed an alley-oop from the three-point line to Gaiter for a soft two-handed dunk. Solomon chased down a loose ball, then found Anderson under the basket for an easy left-hand layup.
Sacred Heart led 21-12 after one quarter, but Naugatuck played even in the second quarter and kept the deficit at nine by halftime.
The Hearts ran away with the game in a 20-4 third quarter. Sacred Heart improved to 11-2, 11-0 in NVL games. The Hearts are ranked third in the latest GameTimeCT/Register Top 10 poll.

PHOTOS: Click here to see images from the game.

VIDEOS: Click here to see what I took for The Hoop Zone.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Beautiful moment between runner and coach at NVL indoor meet

The NVL came together at the Floyd Little Athletic Center in New Haven on Monday for the indoor track and field championships.
There were plenty of great performances, but there was also a beautiful moment.
Sacred Heart's Jenna French claimed victory in the 1000 meters. When French got to the finish line, she saw head coach Tom Festa waiting for her. French jumped into Festa's arms and shared a well-deserved hug. Here's video from CT Sports Now.
French was one of several winners from the area, but none enjoyed a better day than Wolcott's Kathryn Rodrigues. All the sophomore did was win the 1600 and 3200 races.
In another notable girls effort, Kennedy's Christina Capozzi took third in the 55 dash. 
Sacred Heart's E.J. Williams and Naugatuck's Aren Seeger dueled in a pair of events. Williams won the 55 hurdles, and both runners broke the race record (Williams 7.52 seconds, Seeger 7.74). Williams finished second to Seeger in the 300 dash. Williams' teammate Mechai Hayes was third in the 300 dash.
Sacred Heart's Jonathan Warren won the 1600.
In the boys 1000, Crosby's Elijah Lewis and Kennedy's Kyle Hotchkiss took second and third behind Derby's Kenneth Little Jr.
In what was a strong NVL indoor championship debut, Wolcott freshman Nick Bendsten claimed fourth place finishes in the 1600 and 3200. Teammate Jonathan Maldonado was second in the 600 and fourth in the 300. Robert Snide took third in the high jump for the Eagles.
Holy Cross' Marckens Auguste placed third behind Williams and Seeger in the 55 hurdles. The Sacred Heart 4x400 relay of Adam Pepin, Williams, Hayes and Luis Navarro took third place. In the 1600 sprint medley, Crosby took third with the team of Mekhi Arline, Raecuan Disgby, Tolany Velez-Pastrana and Lewis. 
Crosby's Bernardo Mbaya claimed third in the shot put.
The top team finish came from the Sacred Heart boys, who were fifth.

HIGH 5 OF THE WEEK: Legend Johnson has big game off bench for WCSU

Johnson (WCSU athletics)
Western Connecticut State men's basketball freshman Legend Johnson had a solid performance in his team's 77-67 win over Elms on Monday night at home.
Johnson, a former Sacred Heart High School standout, scored 13 points and grabbed five rebounds in 24 minutes of play. Johnson was 3-of-5 from the field and a terrific 7-of-8 at the foul line. In addition, he had an assist and a steal.
Johnson has played in WCSU's last eight games and has seen his minutes go up overall. The 24 he played Monday are his second-highest of the season behind the 33 he had at Rhode Island College on Jan. 18. The 13 points against Elms are a season-high.
Johnson has played in nine games, including all eight conference contests. He's averaging 6.1 points and 3.2 rebounds in 18 minutes.

Sears (USJ athletics)
Elizabeth Sears, University of Saint Joseph swimming and diving
The Blue Jays finished with the best dual meet record in program history (4-2), and the junior from Bristol Central helped them do it.
Sears won one-meter diving with a score of 140.75 points during last Friday's meet at home. Her nine points were important in a 144-126 win for the Blue Jays against Western New England University.
Sears also competed in two relays and one individual event. She was the final swimmer on a 200-yard medley relay team that finished second. She also swam the third leg on the 200 freestyle relay, which finished third. Sears was fifth in the 50 breaststroke.
Overall, Sears helped earn 16 points for USJ in the meet.

Elder (SNHU athletics)
Ashley Elder, Southern New Hampshire University indoor track and field
The junior from Bristol Central won the shot put at the Middlebury Invitational last Saturday, and she did it with a personal-best toss.
Elder's top throw was 45 feet, 4.25 inches, and that was good enough to become her best ever. She also competed in the weight throw, where she finished third. Ironically, her best toss in the weight throw also went 45 feet, 4.25 inches.
Elder was named SNHU Female Athlete of the Week for her efforts at Middlebury.

Hylan (SHU athletics)
Kim Hylan, Sacred Heart University swimming and diving
The former St. Paul star was part of two wins for the Pioneers in their victory over Monmouth last Saturday.
Hylan swam with the 400-yard medley relay, which took first place in a time of 4:13.52. She was the anchor leg on a team that also included Anna Brown, Julia Pusateri and Fiona Maxwell.
In the 200 backstroke, Hylan claimed the top spot in a time of 2:16.43.
In the team's last home meet on Jan. 21, Hylan helped the 400 medley relay team set a McCann Natatorium pool record time of 3:39.63. Hylan's teammates on the relay were Lauren Somers, Emily Peter and Margaret Flaherty.

Sarah Lawton, Florida Southwestern State College softball
Lawton (Fla. SW athletics)
The former Holy Cross star hurler got a chance in the circle in her first collegiate game, and she came away with the victory for the Buccaneers.
Lawton pitched three innings and gave up a single run. She struck out five, walked five and gave up just three hits in the 3-2 Florida Southwestern victory over Pensacola State College last Friday. The game was the first the Buccaneers had played in the JUCO Kickoff Classic.
Florida Southwestern entered the season ranked third in Region 8, which it won last season.
Lawton and the Buccaneers had a rough game against No. 19 Northwest Florida State last Saturday, but she rebounded with two scoreless innings in a 12-1 rout of Florida State College at Jacksonville in the second game of the doubleheader.
In three games, Lawton has already compiled 10 strikeouts.

Statistics and information compiled from the team website of each athlete.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Mustapha Heron once again earns SEC weekly top player honor

Heron (Auburn athletics)
Sophomore Mustapha Heron became the fourth Auburn men's basketball player to earn SEC Player of the Week honors twice in the same season.
The top weekly awards were announced on Monday, and Heron was Co-Player of the Week, along with Daryl Macon of Arkansas. The former Sacred Heart High School star averaged a double-double of 17.5 points and 10 rebounds per game in wins over Missouri and LSU.
In the game at Missouri, Heron posted 14 points and 11 rebounds in his fifth career double-double. He played 34 minutes and shot 5-of-12 from the field and 3-of-4 at the foul line. Heron also recorded two assists and a steal.
Auburn hosted LSU on Saturday, and Heron put up some ridiculous numbers. He had 21 points in 27 minutes and shot 8-of-10 from the floor. Six of those attempts came from behind the three-point line, and four of them dropped through the net. Heron handed out a pair of assists and came up with two steals.
Auburn was red-hot on offense in the two games, averaging 93 points each time out. The Tigers won by an average of 21.5 points per game and own a record of 19-2. Auburn is at Ole Miss on Tuesday night.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Anthony Ireland among leaders top pro league in Lithuania

Ireland (Juventus)
Former Crosby and Loyola Marymount standout Anthony Ireland is fitting in just fine in Lithuania.
Ireland moved on to Juventus after playing for Trefl Sopot in Poland. He is second in the Lithuanian Basketball League in points per game at 15.1. Ireland ranks fourth in steals per game at 1.6, and he is tied for sixth in assists at 4.5, according to statistics posted on Eurobasket.
On Saturday, Ireland found himself up against the famous, or infamous depending on your point of view, LaMelo Ball. Ireland is not a pushover.
"Lamelo Ball matched up with former LMU guard Anthony Ireland right now," Clint Parks wrote on Twitter. "If you know basketball then you know Anthony is a problem."
Parks helps train basketball players in California, the home of Loyola Marymount. All Ireland did with the Lions was become the only one to have at least 2,000 career points, 500 rebounds, 500 assists and 150 steals. He is one of three LMU players to earn first team All-West Coast Conference accolades, according to information posted on the school's athletics website.
Ireland is definitely "a problem". He was so good scoring the ball that he finished third in LMU history, two spots ahead of some guy named Bo Kimble. All Kimble did in 1990 was lead the Lions to an improbable appearance in the Elite Eight, and it all came on the heels of the death of Hank Gathers. Gathers is still the school's all-time leading scorer. Gathers and Kimble were a prolific scoring duo in the 1989-1990 season before Gathers passed.
Ireland can score the ball, he can provide steady leadership, and he is a hard worker. It's no surprise that he ranks near the top of the premier pro league in Lithuania.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Walter Wright III having strong rookie season overseas

Wright III (PP TV RAJ Zilina)
Waterbury native Walter Wright III is living out a dream.
Wright, a former standout at Wilby High School and Division I player at the University of Montana, is in his rookie season with PP TV RAJ Zilina in Extraliga, the top professional league in Slovakia.
Zilina is having a rough season with just four wins, but Wright is having a great individual campaign. Just look at the league leaders posted on the website Eurobasket.
Through games played on Jan. 24, Wright was second in the SBL in points per game with 21.0. He was also second in steals per game (2.8) and fourth in assists (6.3). 
Wright announced his signing with Zilina last September.

Wilby girls play hard in home loss to Torrington

Wilby players look up at the basket while working on foul shots
during pregame warmups on Friday at Wilby High School.
(Copyright, Sports on CT-69)
What the Wilby girls basketball team lacks in victories, it doesn't lack in heart.
The Wildcats lost 62-43 to Torrington on Friday night inside the Reggie O'Brien Gymnasium, but they played hard and those 43 points were a season-high. Tayla Hyman and Jerica Fabian led Wilby with 13 points apiece.
There were hustle plays abound in the first quarter, even though Wilby ended it down double digits. On one play, Hyman took the inbound pass and blew past a defender down the sideline. Hyman got all the way to the basket, but her layup fell off the rim. That was OK, because her teammate Fabian was there for the rebound and putback.
It may seem like an innocuous two points, but not to Wilby. Positives are important for a program that has struggled. The hustle plays didn't lead to a win, but they may help the Wildcats out in the future.
Next Wednesday, Wilby faces Terryville, another team going through some of the same struggles as the Wildcats. That game is at 7 p.m. at Terryville High School. The Kangaroos have had some close losses, but the Wildcats will have their best chance at a victory this season.

PHOTOS: Click here to see images from Friday night's game.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Crosby boys overcome slow start, top Wilby

Kerwin Prince (0) had a monster double-double for Crosby
in the win over Wilby on Wednesday night. Prince finished
with 18 points and a career-high 20 rebounds.
(Copyright, Sports on CT-69)
When Rontay Williams hit a spectacular up-and-under at the buzzer Wednesday night, Wilby had a 20-9 lead over Crosby after one quarter at The Palace.
The Bulldogs quickly erased the Wildcat advantage and had the NVL matchup tied at 30 by halftime. Crosby outscored Wilby 46-33 in the second half and claimed a 76-63 victory. Kerwin Prince led the Bulldogs with 18 points, and he had help from Tyler Spears and Justin Davis, who tallied 15 points apiece. Prince dominated inside with a career-high 20 rebounds. Rahmel Reid came off the bench for 11 points and six assists.
Christian Harris led Wilby with a game-high 34 points. Harris hit on 13 shots, including three 3-pointers. Damien Wade provided a strong effort in the first half, scoring a pair of tough baskets inside. Wade ended up with seven points for the Wildcats.
In the first quarter, Wilby took advantage of Crosby three-point misses and turnovers and raced out to an early lead. Even when Prince made a spectacular block on a fast break near the end of the first quarter, Williams was able to beat the buzzer and end a strong quarter for the Wildcats, who were up 20-9.
Crosby made its move in the second quarter, outscoring Wilby 21-10 to tie the game at 30 by halftime. In the third quarter, the Bulldogs took control with a 28-15 frame. Crosby maintained that 13-point lead in the fourth quarter on the way to the victory.
The Bulldogs shoot a lot of 3-pointers, and there were 29 attempts on Wednesday. Crosby did its biggest damage, however, inside the line. The Bulldogs were 21-of-42 for 50 percent on two-point attempts. Prince was 6-of-13, Davis 4-of-5, Spears 5-of-8, Reid 2-of-5 and Markeese Days 4-of-8. Days also had 11 rebounds, contributing to a 51-board effort by Crosby.
The Bulldogs improved to 6-5 and the Wildcats dropped to 5-6. Neither team is where it wants to be at this point in the season, but both should be working to get better over the last nine regular season games.

VIDEO: Click here to see the footage I took for The Hoop Zone (Waterbury Republican-American).

PHOTOS: Click here to see images I took at the game.

Holy Cross beats Naugatuck in boys swimming showdown

The Holy Cross and Naugatuck boys swimming and diving teams entered Tuesday night's NVL showdown at Kennedy High School undefeated in league competition.
The Crusaders emerged with a 103-81 victory and the Greyhounds took away their first loss in the NVL and overall (4-1 NVL, 5-1 overall). Holy Cross improved to 5-0 in the NVL and 7-1 overall.
The Crusaders began the night with a win in the 200-yard medley relay from Lucas Racevicius, Ben Bowler, John Tucker and Brendan Lynch. Chris Fryer won the 200 freestyle, then Tucker followed with a first place finish in the 200 individual medley. Marcas Racevicius was the top diver, then Tucker was first in the 100 butterfly for his second individual victory of the night. Mason and Lucas Racevicius followed with wins in the 100 freestyle and 500 freestyle. 
The top team in the 200 freestyle relay was Holy Cross, with team members Bowler, Alex Ford, Mason and Fryer. Lucas Racevicius picked up another individual win in the 100 backstroke.
Even when Naugatuck had a winner, it ended up being a tie. Bowler and Naugatuck's Zach Alves tied for first palce in the 100 breaststroke.
Holy Cross had a solid all-around effort on Tuesday, and it resulted in a big victory.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Udoh, Cretella step up for St. Paul girls

Emma Cretella (left) stepped up for St. Paul girls basketball on Tuesday
night with 13 points. Jade Udoh led the Falcons with 23.
(Copyright, Sports on CT-69, 2018 file)
St. Paul girls basketball once again played without sophomore standout Janessa Gonzalez when it took on Derby on Tuesday night.
The first game without Gonzalez didn't go well as the Falcons were blown out by Seymour. On Tuesday night, Gonzalez again didn't play, but a pair of St. Paul players stepped up in a 58-32 rout of Derby.
Sophomore Jade Udoh scored a game-high 23 points and junior Emma Cretella had 13 points for the Falcons. Morgan Kolb (7 points) and Aidrianna Lopez (6 points) also contributed on the offensive end for St. Paul, which improved to 11-2.
The Falcons host a tough Wolcott team on Friday night at 7 o'clock.

Redzepagic goes for 23, Wolcott boys get much needed-win

Wolcott boys basketball picked up a big 78-69 road win over Woodland
on Tuesday night. (Copyright, Sports on CT-69, 2018 file)
Wolcott boys basketball needs to make things happen to reach the state tournament after a 3-7 first half.
On Tuesday night, the Eagles took a step in the right direction with a 78-69 win over Woodland in Beacon Falls.
Wolcott (4-7) knocked down nine 3-pointers, led by three apiece from Elmin Redzepagic and Chris Harris. Redzepagic led all scorers with 23 points while Jack Drewry had 19 points. Harris and Devin Blier each connected for 13 points.
A 27-16 first quarter was key for the Eagles in the win over the Hawks. Wolcott has a tough challenge on Friday night when neighboring St. Paul visits the John H. Morris Gymnasium for a 7 o'clock game.

Palmieri's runner lifts St. Paul boys over Derby in 2 OT

Mike Palmieri's runner with 1.8 seconds left gave St. Paul a 90-89 2 OT
victory over Derby on Tuesday night. (Copyright, Sports on CT-69, 2017 file)
St. Paul boys basketball found itself in a major fight on Tuesday night against Derby in the gym on Maltby Street.
Regulation wasn't enough, and neither was one overtime. The teams went to double overtime. The Red Raiders had the lead in the final seconds, but the Falcons had the ball.
Mike Palmieri got into the lane and put up a floater. Palmieri's shot went in with 1.8 seconds left, and St. Paul held on for the thrilling 90-89 win.
Palmieri had the final answer from the Falcons and scored 18 points, but he was far from the only star. Tyler Arbuckle scored a team-high 38 points and had five rebounds, and Matt Garry nearly contributed a triple-double with 17 points, 14 rebounds, nine steals and six assists. 
Not to be forgotten were the efforts of Seth Foley, Brian Considine, Kevin Ashworth, Donovan Symes and and A.J. Brooks. St. Paul improved to 6-5 with the win.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

HIGH 5 OF THE WEEK: Peter Gallino earns weekly honor, competes well at SCSU with brother David

P. Gallino (Marist athletics)
Marist men's swimming and diving senior co-captain Peter Gallino was named Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Diver of the Week after strong efforts against Boston College and Binghamton on Jan. 11 and 12.
Gallino won the one-meter and three-meter diving events against BC and Binghamton. On Saturday, Peter and sophomore brother David Gallino returned home to Connecticut with the Red Foxes to face Southern Connecticut State University. Marist won 178-118 over SCSU, and both Gallinos set personal bests in the three-meter diving event. Peter Gallino finished first in the event and David was third. Teammate Raislan Aiken finished second.
D. Gallino (Marist athletics)
Peter Gallino, Aiken and David Gallino also finished 1-2-3 in one-meter diving.
In three-meter diving, Peter Gallino scored 369.98 points while David Gallino had 250.58. 
For David Gallino, the meet was a homecoming of a different sort. David competed for SCSU as a freshman before transferring to Marist. David was Diver of the Meet at the Northeast-10 Championships as a freshman at SCSU.
The Gallinos were standout divers at Sacred Heart High School in Waterbury. They are natives of Watertown.
Marist improved to 9-1 with the win over SCSU.

Dantino (SCSU athletics)
Drew Dantino, Southern Connecticut State University
men's swimming and diving

At that same Marist meet was former SHHS Heart Dantino, a junior with the Owls.
Dantino swam in the 200-yard medley relay for SCSU and helped that team finish second. He combined with Tyler Castellone, Bryce Murad and Leonardo LaPorte to complete the relay in a time of 1:37.72.
At Sacred Heart, Dantino was a senior co-captain, and he made All-NVL and All-State in that season. He was also part of the state championship 400 free relay.

Bradford (New Haven athletics)
Briana Bradford, University of New Haven women's basketball volunteer coach
The former Holy Cross and University of New Haven standout has taken a seat on LaTonya Watson's bench as a volunteer assistant coach.
Bradford is pursuing her Master's in Psychology, according to the early employment help website WayUp. As a player, Bradford finished second in program history in 3-pointers made, along with third place spots in free throw makes and free throw percentage. She was the University of New Haven Female Athlete of the Year and women's basketball MVP as a senior. Bradford also showed her versatility off the court, earning College Sports Information Directors Association Third-Team Academic All-American honors.
Bradford averaged 18.8 points per game as a senior, and she scored in double figures in each contest. She was one of eight players in all of Division II to score in double figures in every game. Bradford earned Northeast-10 All-Conference First Team accolades, and was also named Second Team All-East Region from the Division II Conference Commissioner's Association.
Bradford was named the Naugatuck Valley League's Most Outstanding Senior while playing for Holy Cross.

Rodriguez (WCSU athletics)
Eli Rodriguez, Western Connecticut State University
men's basketball

The Colonials have won three straight games, and the former Bristol Eastern standout has been right in the middle of it.
Rodriguez, a junior, scored 17 points in an 81-65 win over UMass-Boston on Jan. 13, which was Alumni Day. That was the first double-figure scoring effort for Rodriguez this season. After a nine-point effort in a 78-70 win over Rhode Island College on Jan. 18, Rodriguez tallied 10 points in a 65-56 win at the University of Southern Maine on Saturday.
Rodriguez has started all 16 games for WCSU. He played at least 31 minutes in the three-game winning streak, including a tie for his season-high 34 against both UMass-Boston and RIC.
For the season, Rodriguez is averaging 5.6 points, 5.4 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game. He is a 70 percent foul shooter.

Statistics and information compiled from the team website of each athlete.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Wolcott girls pick up big home win over Crosby

Raven Cody (11) led Wolcott with 20 points in a 50-38 win over Crosby
at home on Friday night. (Copyright, Sports on CT-69)
Crosby girls basketball finished the first half of the regular season with a resounding win over Sacred Heart and an 8-2 record.
Wolcott was 5-5 over that same stretch, but you wouldn't know it after what transpired on Friday night inside the John H. Morris Gymnasium at Wolcott High School.
The Eagles ambushed the Bulldogs, claiming an 18-5 lead after one quarter. Wolcott led 29-18 at the half, then stretched the advantage to 13 points after three quarters (42-29). The Eagles wound up with a big 50-38 victory.
It started with a good hustle play. The game's first shot was a miss, but Wolcott's Morgan Kiely scooped up the rebound and found Alayna Greene for a 2-0 lead. The margin stretched to 8-0, then 11-1. When Jenna Hoban beat the first quarter buzzer with an offensive rebound and bank shot, the Eagles had an 18-5 lead. Wolcott didn't look back and picked up a big win.
Raven Cody led the Eagles with 20 points, and Tiahna Pulliam had 20 for the Bulldogs.

PHOTOS: Click here to see images from the game.

VIDEO: Click here to see the video I took for The Hoop Zone (Waterbury Republican-American).

Friday, January 19, 2018

Central, Eastern boys meet for first time tonight

A buzzer-beater at Bristol Eastern. A feisty, close game at Bristol Central.
That was the story of the two basketball games between the Lancer and Ram boys last season. They meet for the first time this season tonight at Bristol Central High School at 6:45. It should be a big crowd with plenty of noise and emotion to go around.
Central is 7-3 and comes in on a six-game winning streak. The Rams have been led by Jaekwon Spencer, Alex Bernier, Dathan Hickey, Isaiah Miller and Dathan Hickey. Spencer is a multi-tool player who can go outside and inside.
Eastern is 3-5 and would love to snap its four-game losing streak with a win over its rival. Mac Goulet was the high scorer in the most recent game, a tough 45-42 home loss to Berlin. Different players have stepped up for the Lancers, who have battled injuries. Those players have included Jake Lafferty, Nate Silva, Tyler Mason and Camryn Tate, to name a few. Eastern has missed Carter Dziedzic, who has been out with an injury.
As usual, this should be a high-energy game. Get there early. Central may have a big gym, but there's always a big crowd for Central-Eastern.

Big NVL girls hoop showdown tonight in Bristol

The last two unbeaten girls basketball teams in the NVL meet tonight at 7 in Bristol.
It just so happens that St. Paul and Holy Cross, both 9-1, are rivals. They met in the NVL tournament final last year, a game won by the Falcons. Each team has one loss outside the league, none inside it.
For St. Paul, it begins with Janessa Gonzalez. She always seems to be a threat to get 20 points, but she can also rebound and dish the basketball. Gonzalez has gotten help on the boards from Aidrianna Lopez, and Jade Udoh has also been there.
Holy Cross is led by the 1-2 inside punch of Meah Austin and Aiyana Ward. You can pretty much pencil in a double-double for both of these senior forwards. The Crusaders are happy to have Devan Eason back from injury, as she provides more depth for the pressing style that her team prefers.
There should be plenty of energy and strong play in the gym on Maltby Street tonight. It's unfortunate that they only meet once in the regular season, but they could certainly see each other again in the NVL tournament.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

HIGH 5 OF THE WEEK: Waterbury reunion on court in Dean-Newbury overtime battle

Booker (Dean athletics)
It's not unusual for Waterbury high school boys basketball players to go on and compete at the collegiate level.
Three of them playing in the same game? Now that's different.
Dean College hosted Newbury College on Jan. 9, and it was a reunion for three former Brass City stars. For Dean, it's sophomore Jordan Booker (Crosby) and freshman Courie Stevenson (Sacred Heart). They went up against Newbury freshman Miguel Rivera (Crosby).
All three Brass City stars played major minutes in the 106-103 Dean overtime victory. Here's how each player fared in the game:
Booker: He played all 45 minutes and scored 24 points on 9-of-20 shooting. Booker had five turnovers and a technical foul, but he made up for it with six assists and five steals. In the first half, Booker played all 20 minutes and scored 15 points to go along with four steals. He was 5-of-10 from the field and 3-of-4 from the charity stripe. In overtime, Booker assisted on the first Bulldog basket, then hit back-to-back baskets to tie the game at 95 at the 3:11 mark. With 1:15 left in overtime, Booker scored to put Dean up 103-99.
Stevenson (Sports on CT-69 file)
Rivera (Newbury athletics)
Stevenson: He played 32 minutes off the bench and tallied nine points and five rebounds. Stevenson, who originally committed to Trinity Valley Community College in Texas, came up with a couple big plays in overtime for the Bulldogs. Stevenson had a steal that led to the tying basket from Booker. Stevenson had a key rebound off a missed Newbury foul shot with 1:03 left and Dean ahead 103-100. With 34 seconds left, it was a Stevenson layup that put the Bulldogs ahead 105-101. Not bad for a collegiate debut for the former Sacred Heart standout. He has also played in the two games since, averaging over 26 minutes per contest.
Rivera: He played 37 minutes and scored 17 points before fouling out in overtime. Rivera was 4-of-11 from the field, but nailed 7-of-8 at the foul line. He had four assists, two steals and a blocked shot. Rivera played all 20 minutes in the second half, when Newbury outscored Dean 50-42. He had 11 points and three assists in the second 20 minutes. Rivera's free throws were the first Nighthawk points of the second half. Rivera's steal and assist with 10 minutes left brought Newbury within six points, 69-63. He brought the Nighthawks within five, 71-66, on a 3-pointer with 8:52 to play. Rivera assisted on the 3-pointer that cut the Newbury deficit to 77-75 at 6:15 to go. In overtime, Rivera played a part in six straight Newbury points with a layup, an assist and two free throws. The two foul shots tied the game at 97 with 2:32 on the clock. He fouled out with 1:03 to play.
Three guys who made the Brass City proud all played their part in an overtime thriller.

Harnish (Springfield athletics)
Sean Harnish, Springfield College swimming and diving
The sophomore and former multi-sport Holy Cross athlete had a solid day for the Pride on Jan. 13.
Springfield began its 156-126 victory over Union College with a win in the 200-yard medley relay, which Harnish was a part of. Harnish was the first swimmer on the relay for the Pride.
Harnish finished second in the 100 backstroke in a time of 54.73, just .04 seconds behind Owen Perks, the winner from Union. He also took second in the 200 backstroke, finishing in a time of 2:02.67. Perks was again first.
When the 100 butterfly came around, Harnish claimed victory in a time of 55.37. He finished .08 seconds ahead of Perks.
Harnish specializes in the backstroke, butterfly and freestyle races for Springfield. The Middlebury native is majoring in Business Management.

Mekaela Fithian-Giantonio, Nichols College basketball
Fithian-Giantonio (NIchols athletics)

The Bison have played 13 games so far this season, and the former St. Paul leader has started all of them.
Fithian-Giantonio is averaging 26.5 minutes per game and scoring 3.5 points. The junior from Plainville is pulling down 3.7 rebounds per contest, and she is a 90 percent free throw shooter in in just 10 attempts.
Fithian-Giantonio had her best scoring and rebounding game for Nichols in a 72-71 loss to Wentworth on Jan. 13. She posted season highs in points with eight, rebounds with 11, and assists with five in 29 minutes of work.

Statistics and information compiled from the team website of each athlete.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Bristol Eastern, Central wrestling claim first place finishes in tournaments

The Bristol Eastern and Bristol Central wrestling teams each brought home a first place finish on Saturday.
The Lancers finished with 221 points in the John D. Gorman Memorial Tournament in Cumberland, R.I. It was good enough to put Eastern ahead of second place North Attleborough, Mass. (207.5) and third place Cumberland (181). The Lancer winners were Bryce Beebe (108 pounds), Mikey Barrett (160) and Trinidad Gonzalez (195).
The Rams were one of two teams to go 4-0 and finish first at the Art Powers Duals in Berlin, with the other being the host Redcoats. Central had wins over Joel Barlow (51-22), East Catholic (48-32), RHAM (48-27) and Bethel (42-33). Central and Berlin were listed as co-champions on Connecticut Wrestling Online.

Three girls hoop teams already in state tourney, one more on the doorstep

The girls basketball season is nine or 10 games old, depending on which area school you are talking about, and three teams have already clinched state tournament berths.
St. Paul (8-1), Holy Cross (8-1) and Sacred Heart (8-2) are all in the state tournament, and there's still plenty of time left for them to improve on their rankings.
St. Paul has been led by the steady scoring of Janessa Gonzalez. Aidrianna Lopez, Taylor Crawford and Molly Hooks are among the Falcons who have helped Gonzalez.
Holy Cross has been paced by the inside 1-2 punch of Meah Austin and Aiyana Ward. All Ward did against Sacred Heart was tally 21 points and 21 rebounds. Ward is consistently in double digits in rebounding. Outside shooters like Hannah Brown make sure opposing defenses stay honest. Devan Eason has returned from injury, which makes the Crusaders that much tougher.
Sacred Heart has the potent backcourt duo of Treasure Coleman and Aamya Rivera. Coleman had 29 points, 10 rebounds and five assists in a road win over Derby, and it's not just offense where Coleman and Rivera cause trouble. Coleman and Rivera are also solid defenders who are a threat to steal the ball from opposing ball-handlers. There has been plenty of help from Jenna Madigan, Hayley Tucker and Mikayla Mobley. If it's not scoring, they have taken up the rebounding.
Crosby (7-2) is one win away from a tournament berth and already has two more victories than it did all of last season (5-16). WCA (6-3) is two wins away from a second straight state tournament berth. Others like Wolcott (4-4) and Bristol Eastern (4-6) have work to do to get to the state tournament.

Pair of Bristol boys teams bounce back from tough starts

Bristol Central boys basketball is a long way from its 1-3 start.
The Rams have won five straight games over Southington, Fitch, Plainville, Maloney and Tolland to get to 6-3. Central has been led by Jaekwon Spencer, Alex Bernier, Noah Plantamuro and Dathan Hickey. Spencer scored 29 points in the win over Plainville.
The Rams beat Southington by eight points and outlasted Maloney by six. In the other three games, Central's win margin was 15, 15 and 16.

St. Paul is back to .500 at 4-4 after three straight wins. The Falcons own victories over Seymour, Kennedy and Oxford in that stretch. Tyler Arbuckle was the top scorer in the Seymour victory with 24 points, but it has been Mike Palmieri who has gone off since then. Palmieri had 33 points in the win over Kennedy, then followed it up with 31 against Oxford. Palmieri and Arbuckle have been the leading scorers, but others have contributed to the streak, including Matt Garry and Donovan Symes, just to name a couple.

BRASS CITY BOYS HOOPS: Holy Cross hands WCA first loss, Sacred Heart falls to one of nation's best teams

The Holy Cross boys handed WCA its first loss of the season on Friday night.
(Copyright, Sports on CT-69, 2017 file)
The Waterbury Career Academy boys basketball team was undefeated entering Friday night's home game against one-loss Holy Cross.
The Crusaders landed an 11-0 first punch, and the Spartans spent the rest of the game trying to get up off the canvas. Holy Cross won 75-63 behind big efforts from the trio of DeAndre Wallace, Nyzair Rountree and Mikey West. The three-headed monster combined for 60 points, 24 apiece from Wallace and West and 12 from Rountree. 
Even more impressive was the all-around play, as shown in the statistics Joe Palladino of the Waterbury Republican-American had in his story. Wallace had eight rebounds, four assists, six steals and three blocked shots. West tallied eight assists and two steals. 
All Rountree did was nearly record a triple-double. He had 10 assists and nine rebounds.
Holy Cross welcomed starter Jack Greene back into the lineup, and it's still missing Marcellus Gomes and Will Guglielmo because of injuries. There's a scary thought for down the road when the Crusaders are at full strength.
Marquan Watson had his usual double-double, nearly a triple-double, with 24 points, 11 rebounds and seven steals. Matt Torres scored 14 points.
The Crusaders and Spartans are looking to see who will take up residence behind Sacred Heart, which is still undefeated in NVL play. Holy Cross won the first round on Friday. The second round comes Tuesday, Feb. 6 at The Pit.

Raheem Solomon (left) had 25 points for Sacred Heart at the Spalding
Hoophall Classic on Saturday. (Copyright, Sports on CT-69, 2017 file)
Sacred Heart made what has become an almost annual trip to the Spaulding Hoophall Classic on Saturday. The Hearts faced Gonzaga College High School of Washington, D.C., one of the nation's premier teams. The Purple Eagles won handily 86-51 behind dominant performances from Terrance Williams (26 points, 13 rebounds) and Miles Dread (25 points). 
Williams, a sophomore (yikes), told USA Today that he has offers from Georgetown, North Carolina State, DePaul and George Mason. And there are other schools that he has visited.
Dread, a senior, will play for Penn State.
Sacred Heart has solid players in its own right in Raheem Solomon and Isiah Gaiter. Palladino reported that Solomon has had interest from Niagara and Tulane. Solomon had a big game with 25 points on 9-of-21 shooting. Solomon knocked down 5-of-10 three-point attempts. Gaiter ended up with 13 points while 6-foot-11 freshman Connor Tierney added seven points.

Justin Davis (1) and Crosby got over .500 with a resounding win
at Kennedy on Friday night. (Copyright, Sports on CT-69)
Kennedy welcomed 6-foot-8 Lashawn Smith to the starting lineup for the first time this season Friday night, and Smith got off to a quick start at home against Crosby. Smith hit from the outside, scored on the fast break and swatted a shot. Smith finished with 18 points.
The Eagles jumped out to a 13-6 lead, but it was cut to 20-19 by the end of the first quarter. From there, the Bulldogs outscored the home side 54-30 and ran away with a 73-50 victory.
Crosby got the win in part because of a balanced offensive attack. Kerwin Prince and Kennedy transfer Tyler Spears led four Bulldogs in double figures with 18 points apiece. Markeese Days had 15 points and Justin Davis chipped in 11. Prince and Days each pulled down 10 rebounds.
On the defensive end, the Bulldogs had 16 steals, led by five from Spears. Crosby improved to 4-3 with the win and has two straight victories after starting 1-3.
PHOTOS: Click here to see my images from Friday night's Crosby-Kennedy game.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Undefeated WCA boys host one-loss Holy Cross in showdown tonight

WCA's Marquan Watson goes to the basket against Holy Cross' DeAndre Wallace in a 2017
game. Watson and Wallace meet up again tonight at WCA in a 7 p.m. showdown
between the Spartans and Crusaders. (Copyright, Sports on CT-69, 2017 file)
The Waterbury Career Academy boys are off to a terrific 5-0 start, punctuated by a 91-39 road win over Watertown.
The Spartans have survived one test, a 73-69 victory at Crosby. 
The next test awaits tonight at 7 at home. Holy Cross (5-1) is the opponent, and it should be a great game.
The Spartans and Crusaders played a pair of two-point games in the 2016-17 regular season. Holy Cross won 56-54 at WCA in the first meeting, but the Spartans returned the favor 75-73 at The Pit.
Holy Cross lost 75-67 at Sacred Heart on Jan. 3. Since then, the Crusaders have run past Kennedy and Ansonia to get to 5-1. Hearts transfer Mikey West has been a solid addition to a lineup that already included Nyzair Rountree and DeAndre Wallace. When Holy Cross gets Marcellus Gomes back from injury, it will be that much more dangerous. Jack Greene has also been out with an injury.
Kyle Moser has scored in double digits and provides an inside presence for the Crusaders.
WCA's lone close game was against Crosby. The Spartans have won their other four games by 30.5 points per contest. Marquan Watson has been a double-double machine for WCA. Jadan Battle and Matt Torres have been catalysts in the backcourt, and Chad McKoy and Jessah Doctor have been solid around the basket. There's also been contributions from Langstun Racine and Jacharyus Bynum, giving the Spartans a solid seven.
The game is at WCA, so get there early if you want a seat.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Palmieri, Arbuckle with efficient big nights in St. Paul boys win

As St. Paul associate boys head coach Brendan Phelps said on Twitter: "There's buckets and then there are efficient buckets."
Efficiency was the name of the game for St. Paul seniors Mike Palmieri and Tyler Arbuckle in a 81-60 NVL home win over Kennedy on Wednesday night. Palmieri connected for 33 points on 12-of-17 shooting. Arbuckle had 29 points on 10-of-16 attempts. Palmieri (six) and Arbuckle (three) combined for nine 3-pointers.
To complete the big-time performances, Palmieri had five rebounds and three assists while Arbuckle compiled five rebounds and four assists.
St. Paul started the season 1-4, but has won its last two games. The Falcons hope this streak is the beginning of a big turnaround. If Palmieri and Arbuckle keep putting up those kinds of numbers, they will be very competitive.

HIGH 5 OF THE WEEK: Sands named MASCAC Rookie of the Week

Ty Sands, Westfield State University basketball
Sands (Westfield State athletics)

The former Kennedy and Crosby standout had a solid all-around game in the Owls' 104-87 MASCAC-opening win over MCLA.
Sands had 12 points, two steals, two rebounds and an assist in the victory. He was 3-for-6 from beyond the three-point line. The win got Westfield State back to .500 at 7-7.
For his effort, Sands was recognized as MASCAC Rookie of the Week.
Sands is averaging 8.9 points and 3.1 assists per game in his freshman season with the Owls. Sands' best scoring output in the first 14 games this season was 20 against Williams College on Dec. 5. He's also had games of 19, 12, 12, 11 and 10.
Sands has started 13 of his team's 14 games this season.

O'Donnell (Assumption athletics)
Kiera O'Donnell, Assumption College basketball
The senior and former Holy Cross star continues to have a good season with the Greyhounds.
O'Donnell made the Northeast-10 Honor Roll for her efforts in a two-game span against Adelphi and New Haven. She averaged 16.5 points and 8.5 rebounds per contest and shot 50 percent from the field.
In the Adelphi loss, O'Donnell had 17 points, nine rebounds and two assists. She came back with 16 points, eight rebounds and a steal in the New Haven win. O'Donnell was solid from three-point range in the two games as she connected on 6-of-10 attempts.
In 10 games (eight starts), O'Donnell is averaging 8.7 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.1 steals in 30.6 minutes.

Joey DeFillippi, Mount Ida College basketball
DeFillippi (Mount Ida athletics)

Another senior, this former Bristol Central leader put up shooting numbers that Larry Bird would have been proud of.
In a two-game stretch, DeFillippi shot 47.8 percent from the field, 40 percent from three-point range, and 88 percent at the foul line. In his prime, Bird would post season averages of 50-40-90.
DeFillippi averaged 21 points and four assists per contest in those two games, which Mount Ida went 1-1 in. In a 92-82 win over New England College, DeFillippi had 22 points, four rebounds, three assists and a block. He shot 5-of-11 from the field and 10-of-12 at the foul line.
Mount Ida suffered a tough 96-93 loss to Lasell, but DeFillippi put up another good effort. He had 20 points, five assists and four steals. He shot 6-of-12 from the field, 4-of-8 on 3-pointers, and 4-of-4 at the charity stripe.
Through 12 games (12 starts), DeFillippi was averaging 15.8 points, 4.5 rebounds, 3.17 assists and 2.17 steals.

Flynn (Amherst athletics)
Emma Flynn, Amherst College ice hockey
Ice hockey is a sport not often spoken of on this website, but this Wolcott native and former Loomis Chaffee player gets a mention this week.
Amherst was down 1-0 to Middlebury on Saturday and needed someone to get the puck in the net. That someone was Flynn, was redirected a pass into the goal to tie the game 14:17 into the 20-minute third period. Flynn's third goal of the season made sure Amherst, then ranked No. 10 in the country, finished with a draw against No. 7 Middlebury.
Flynn has played in 12 games this season as a freshman. She has four goals and three assists.

Janelle Johnson, Post University basketball
Johnson (Post athletics)

Johnson, a sophomore who attended Crosby, has got some playing time in the first half of the season.
Johnson has played in nine games and made one start. She is averaging 10.7 minutes per game. Johnson had four points in 17 minutes against the University of New Haven on Dec. 31. She has grabbed five rebounds in two different games, against Dominican on Dec. 30 and Caldwell on Jan. 3. Johnson dished out two assists in her first game action on Nov. 18 against Pace.
Johnson is majoring in Sport Management.

Statistics and information compiled from the team website of each athlete.

Wolcott boys win wild overtime game over Seymour

Wolcott's Mikey Tessarzik tied Wednesday's
game against Seymour at 64 with 1.3 seconds
left in regulation. The Eagles won 76-70 in overtime.
(Copyright, Sports on CT-69, 2016 file)
Wolcott boys basketball needed a win in a big way entering Wednesday night's home game against Seymour.
The Eagles had lost three straight games to Bristol Central, South Windsor and Torrington to drop to 1-4. Wolcott hoped a little home cooking would help it break the losing skid.
Things didn't look good for the Eagles, who trailed 64-61 in the final seconds. That's when senior Mikey Tessarzik played the role of hero.
Tessarzik's 3-pointer with 1.3 ticks on the clock tied the game at 64 and sent it to overtime. Wolcott finally took control of the game in overtime and outscored Seymour 12-6 to claim a 76-70 victory. 
Those three points at the end of regulation were by far the biggest of the 16 that Tessarzik scored in the game. Tessarzik made five 3-pointers in a game full of heroes for the Eagles. Junior Chris Harris went for 28 points, including four 3-pointers. Senior Devin Blier had a big game inside with 14 points and 11 rebounds. Juniors Elmin Redzepagic and Jack Drewry each contributed 10 points. Wolcott and Seymour each made 11 3-pointers in the game.
The game swung wildly in each team's favor. Seymour led 16-12 after one quarter, but Wolcott stormed back for a 35-27 halftime lead after a 23-11 margin in the second quarter. The Wildcats won the third quarter 25-13 to go ahead 52-48 entering the fourth quarter. The Eagles came back 16-12 in the fourth quarter to tie the game at 64 and force overtime.