CIAC Season Preview
The Connecticut high school basketball season got off to an exciting start on Wednesday with a series of high profile games and a couple of early upsets. Here is a class by class breakdown of the contenders as everyone looks to play their way onto Mohegan Sun for the state championship finals.
St. Joseph's – Vito Montelli’s squad is deep as they are talented and consequently the favorite heading into the season. Oscar Assie and Timajh Parker-Rivera form the state’s most dominant interior duo, while six-foot-seven junior Pat Hopkins gives them a terrific option off the bench. The backcourt is no slouch either with high scoring James Jennings next to Brandon Jones with Jake Fulton and Chris Watts, and Frank Massey providing additional depth.
Windsor – The Warriors have another talented crew of veteran players including Edgerton Anderson, Mike Fraylon, and Garey Allen along with a pair of talented underclassmen in Zaman Kalilou and Jared Wilson-Frame, one of the state’s top freshmen, and with long time head coach Ken Smith at the helm, the Warriors will be one of the favorites.
Wilbur Cross – New Haven is full of talent again in 2010-2011 and Wilbur Cross is poised to have one of their best teams in recent years behind a dynamic senior trio. Gerald McClease is one of the state’s top offensive threats while Alex Conaway and Ray Melvin are talented playmakers in their own right who should both be among the tops in the SCC.
Crosby – The Bulldogs lost a lot of firepower to graduation but return head coach Nick Augelli for his 31st season along with a nice inside out duo of Marvin Hampton and Todd Smith. Dazure Prado will lead the supporting cast for a team that is expected to continue to improve throughout the course of the season.
McMahon – A pair of transfers made McMahon the winners of the off-season but before that translates to the regular season they need to see exactly who is eligible. Takari Smalls and Al Alzuphar join point guard C.J. Langley but the team will be without senior forward Lamar Tate at least for the first half of the season.
Fairfield Prep – Junior swingman Terry Tarpey should be poised for a big year following his breakout summer. Prep has plenty of other weapons including great size in the frontcourt with 6’7” Matt Daley, 6’5” Alex Heiman, 6’7” Tim Butala, and 6’6” Austin Woods. The key will be in the backcourt where senior Robbie Bier leads the way.
Bridgeport Central – The defending state champions are coming off a 27-1 season but undeniably in rebuilding mode now. Nine seniors are gone from last year’s squad with youth and a lack of size up front being head coach Barry McLeod’s most immediate challenges.
Holy Cross – Ed Generali’s squad is always one of the top contenders in the NVL and this season is expected to be no different. Junior guard Mike Mallory will lead a perimeter based attack that will get a mid-season boost with the return of sharp-shooter K.J. Harmeling. Senior co-captain Cliff Aquino will lead the way along the frontline.
Hartford Public – Kurt Reiss’ squad scored a tough win over Bulkeley to open their season as Jaiquen Wynter and Derrick Guy led the way. Additional talent and depth is supplied by six-foot-six big man Ebrahim Jallow and scoring guard Daylon Ore.
• Glastonbury appears to be in store for a solid season behind leading scorer Nico Donato and a tough and rugged supporting cast.
• Sophomore guard Cane Broome is the bridge to the future for an East Hartford team that lost their head coach, star point guard, and a talented senior class.
• Danbury should be on the rise under second year head coach Casey Bock and explosive junior swingman Tim Jackson Jr.
• This could be Manchester’s be season in recent years with the return of Enrique Logo and Kavohn Townsend in the backcourt.
• Harding may lack a true star but Charlie Bentley’s squad will have their same endless rotation of quick and talented guards who will pressure their opponents for 32 minutes.
• Josh Engler, who averaged 15 points and 6 rebounds, returns for a Newtown team that went 19-5 a season ago.
• Always a tough out in the SCC, Xavier should be strong again this year with good size up front and sharpshooter Mike Boornazian on the wing.
• Staples returns a senior backcourt who both scored 14+ points per game last year in Gabe Seidman and Luke Yeager.
• Westhill could be the biggest sleeper in the class this year with Chris Walters, Antwaun Boyd, Tony Dobbinson, and others.
The rest of Class LL – Amity, Bulkeley, Cheshire, Conard, Greenwich, Hall, Hamden, New Britain, New Milford, Newington, Norwalk, Norwich Free Academy, Notre Dame – West Haven, Ridgefield, Shelton, Simsbury, South Windsor, Southington, Stamford, Trumbull, West Haven
Hillhouse – The house suffered an early setback at the hands of Career on Wednesday night but still projects as the top team in Class L this year. Freddie Wilson looks to be the top player in the state and he is far from a one man. Brian Patterson and Drew Crudup lead a supporting cast that also includes Dana Griffin, Malcolm Willoughby, Jason Burgo, and Andre Anderson for first year head coach Renard Sutton.
New London – The Whalers have one of the top scoring duos in the state in Kris Dunn and Torin Harris, not to mention a tough big man in the middle in Malcolm Simmons. Dunn and Harris combined for 51 points to lead New London over Stratford in a rematch of last year’s state championship game. Look for them to be relatively unchallenged in conference play and quite possibly en route to an undefeated regular season.
Northwest Catholic – Head coach John Mirabello could have the top team in the CCC this year. Sophomore sensation Kuran Iverson can do just about anything he wants on the court but doesn’t carry the burden of the team’s success alone as he is surrounded by quality veterans like J.C. Carr, Zach Leweis, and Tyler Huffman.
Stratford – Despite the loss of Gatorade Player of the Year Brandon Sherrod, Stratford is still one of the favorites in class L. The addition of Tafari Whittingham certainly would have helped but as it stands now the fate of the team will rest on two young perimeter players in six-foot-four junior Tom Bajda and six-foot-one sophomore Bernard Brantley.
Bassick – The Lions return the majority of their firepower from last season’s 15-8 squad. Jamill Powell will headline the team’s offensive attack from the backcourt while the team has a deep front line of Demetrius Thomas, Tarqan Perkins, Troy Brunson, and Anthony Allen.
East Catholic – Always one of the most disciplined and well coached teams in the state, East Catholic will once again be a tough out this year. They have one of the state’s top frontcourt players in Rohan Brown, who averaged 16 points and 12 rebounds last year and could be the top interior player in the CCC this year.
Pomperaug – The Panthers won 14 games last year before falling to eventual champions Stratford in the state tournament. They return their top six players from that team including leading scorer Brent Pelella and six-foot-seven senior big man Andre Makris who should be poised for a breakout final season at Pomperaug.
• Lyman Hall returns their entire line-up from last year’s 12 win squad and figures to be among the contenders in the SCC.
• Masuk is a team with no stars but great versatility and depth and should be one of the contenders in the SWC after going 15-8 a year ago.
• Kennedy returns Trevon Seymore, Jordan Bayon, Brian Overton, and Devon Petty from last season’s 18-8 squad.
• Middletown is young but talented in the backcourt where Steve Santavenere and Shawn Strickland return to lead the team.
• Sheehan loses a lot from last year’s state championship squad but still has big man Christian Collette and swingman Mike Vallone.
• Cyrus James should be a man among boys for Cheney Tech during the regular season but he will need backcourt help if they’re to make a run in the state tournament.
• The defending SCC tournament champions face significant losses meaning that junior forward Brian McDonald will have to take his game to the next level for North Haven.
• A deep Maloney squad has weapons at multiple positions with Zack Milsagle up front and Darrius Edwards in the backcourt.
The rest of Class L – Avon, Berlin, Branford, Bristol Central, Bristol Eastern, Bunnell, Darien, E.O. Smith, East Lyme, Fairfield Ludlowe, Fairfield Warde, Farmington, Fermi, Fitch, Guilford, Hand, Naugatuck, New Canaan, New Fairfield, Platt, Platt Tech, RHAM, Rockville, Torrington, Waterford, Wethersfield, Wilby, Wilton, Wolcott Tech, Woodstock Academy
Weaver – Jerome Harris’ decision to transfer gives Weaver a huge boost. Harris will be joined by the big man in the middle OShawn Bannister, who is coming off a breakout summer, as well as scoring guard Shaquille Ricketts to give Weaver a team that is expected to contend both in the CCC as well as in class M.
Career – They listened to the doubters all summer long after losing a pair of important transfers but responded in a big way on opening night as they scored an upset over top ranked Hillhouse. K.C. Hoff and Brandyn Benson give the team a senior tandem to build around while the supporting cast includes Greg Johnson, Kenny Armstead, and Treyvon Moore.
Trinity Catholic – The Crusaders are back…or at least that’s the word in their corner of the state as Trinity has a talented, but young, roster. Jonathan Boykin, Tyler Watson, Aaron Spence, and Brandon Wheeler all return from a year ago while the team will feel the injection of two highly talented youngsters in Schadarac Casimir and Chukwu Pascal Chiediebere, a seven-foot-one transfer from Nigeria.
Hyde – Coming off their undefeated 27-0 state championship season, Hyde is still the overwhelming favorite in the Shoreline Conference and should be able to make a run in Class M as six-foot-three guard Hashiem Robeson will lead the way for head coach Steve Jefferson’s squad while Tim Rogers and Robert Fairweather control the paint.
Notre Dame Fairfield – Arkel Miles will need to get healthy before this team is capable of making their run but there is definite talent around the big man including a very dangerous three-guard rotation of junior playmaker Trey McPherson and sophomores Danny Upchurch and Earl Coleman. The best is definitely yet to come as Marcus Ortiz is the team’s only impact senior.
Stonington – Maine transfer Will Defanti will be a huge addition for Stonington. He will team with Sam Donahue to form as potent of a backcourt combination as you will find in a small public school in Connecticut. Also look out for Donahue’s younger brother, Jackson Donahue, who looks to be one of the top freshmen in Connecticut.
• University has a young and talented upcoming team with sophomore Kadian Hall a potential star in the making in the Hartford region.
• Joel Barlow returns three starting guards from a season ago and promises to be much improved in 2010-2011
• Zach Askew should be absolutely dominant in his senior campaign for Vinal Tech and gives them a chance to win each time they take the court.
The rest of Class M – Abbott Tech, Ansonia, Bacon Academy, Bethel, Bloomfield, Brookfield, Bullard Havens, Cromwell, East Haven, Ellington, Ellis Tech, Enfield, Foran, Granby, Immaculate, Joel Barlow, Law, Kaynor Tech, Ledyard, Lewis Mills, Montville, Nonnewaug, Northwestern, Norwich Tech, Plainfield, Plainville, Rocky Hill, Sacred Heart, SMSA, Suffield, Tolland, Watertown, Weston, Wilcox Tech, Windham, Wolcott, Woodland
Capital Prep – Kahlil Dukes put up monster numbers in his freshman campaign and returns atop a Capital Prep program that has a chance to take the Class S crown. Dukes will have plenty of help in junior swingman DeWayne Wynn, who put up big numbers of his own last year, and Levy Gillespie Jr., another of the state’s top freshmen.
Kolbe Cathedral – Former UConn guard Chris Smith returns to the helm of the program for his second season coming off a 20-3 debut. Guards Troy Owens and Calvin Wade lead the way for a squad that is likely to overwhelm the majority of the class S competition with their quickness and athleticism.
Prince Tech – They return Phil Starks, who averaged 27 points per game last year in lead Prince Tech to the finals of the Class S state tournament. They hope to get over the hump this year but will need Quan Jennings to lead the supporting cast.
Windsor Locks – Tim Putnam returns to run the show for a Windsor Locks team that advanced to the semi-finals of the class S tournament a year ago. They also have size up front with Taylor Gorzkowski and a potentially high impact swingman in Donovan Ford-Hayes.
The rest of Class S – Amistad Academy, Bolton, Canton, Classical Magnet, Coginchaug, Coventry, Derby, East Granby, East Hampton, East Windsor, Gilbert, Goodwin Tech, Grasso Tech, Griswold, Haddam-Killingworth, Hale Ray, Housatonic, Killingly, Litchfield, Lyman Memorial, Morgan, North Branford, O’Brien Tech, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, Oxford, Parish Hill, Portland, Putnam, Seymour, Shepaug Valley, Somers, St. Bernard, St. Paul, Stafford, Terryville, Thomaston, Tourtellotte, Valley Regional, Wamogo, Westbrook, Wheeler, Whitney Tech, Windham Tech, Windsor Locks