CIAC Week in Review
- Only four schools remain undefeated in the state of Connecticut this season. St Joseph-Trumbull remains perfect this week behind the best starting five in the state - Timajh Parker-Rivera, Quincey McKnight, James Jennings, Pat Hopkins and Jonathon Dzurenda - after beating Stamford 74-56 and suffocating Greenwich in a 71-41 victory. Hillhouse never lost their early season momentum and still holds the coveted top spot in Class LL with a 19-0 record heading into their final game with Career on Monday night. Hartford Public (19-0) can be the third LL team heading into their conference tourney with an unblemished mark as long as they finish off Bloomfield in their finale. Class M Enfield is the only school outside of the state's largest Class that remains undefeated. Behind the school's all-time leading scorer, Tra Preston, the Raiders are 19-0 and only have Windsor Locks sitting between them and a perfect regular season mark.
- Fresh off being named a McDonald All-American, Kris Dunn reached the 2,000 point mark for his career at New London during an 84-59 win over Woodstock Academy. After deciding to return to New London for his senior season, he remained the unquestioned leader of the team and the hands down best player in the state throughout the season for the Whalers (18-2). After a dominant performance against Northwest Catholic in last year's Class L title game, in which his New London squad easily won, Dunn is in the hunt for his second state title. But this time it's in LL, where the competition will be even better. Dunn's supporting cast, led by Keith Porter and Doug Henton, will surely be up for the challenge. As for Dunn? All he's done is climb the 2012 point guard ladder and cement himself among the top three players at his position in the national class.
- Ebrahim Jallow has been a huge part of Hartford Public's success all season long but still has remained one of the most unheralded big men in the state. He's averaged 16 points and 8 rebounds, but more importantly has anchored the middle for a Public team that didn't know where they were going to get their paint production from at the beginning of the season. Coach Kurt Reis, who recently won his 100th game as coach at Hartford Public, has been impressed with his performance thus far: "Ebrahaim has gotten better each and every day, to his credit. He is a coachable athlete who has become one of the top bigs in the state through hard work and dedicating himself to the game. He'll need to step up in the postseason, but I have the utmost confidence that he will do just that based on the way he's carried himself throughout the season." Daylon Ore, who has been the most consistent scorer for the Owls this season, still carries the brunt of the load offensively, averaging 18ppg while being covered by the opposing team's top defender night in and night out. 6'2" sophomore, Tarchee Brown, has also stepped up late in the season. He's averaged close to 10 rebounds a game over the last nine games and has become a force down low for Reis' squad.
- Northwest Catholic (17-2) lost their first game of the season to an in-state opponent this week, falling 78-71 at the hands of Windsor (18-1). Kuran Iverson finished the game with 28 points but it was Windsor guard Andy Hurd who made the big plays late to seal a Windsor victory. After ripping Tyler Huffman late in the fourth, leading to a Windsor bucket, Hurd snatched the ball from Iverson with under a minute to play to ice the game for the Warriors. With their only loss coming to East Catholic (12-7) in the middle of the year, Windsor looks poised not only to make a serious run to the CCC title but make a lot of noise in the LL tourney as well, something Ken Smith's program has grown accustomed to over the years. Northwest missed 11 lay-ups and turned the ball over 28 times but still found themselves in position to win late, something John Mirabello's squad can take solace in heading into the CCC and Class L tourneys in the upcoming weeks.
- Two head coaches, Kolbe Cathedral's Chris Smith (UConn's all-time leading scorer) and Immaculate's Nelson Mingachos, couldn't have asked for a better primer for their teams heading into the upcoming state tournament. While Mingachos found out a lot about his team, Smith realized there is a lot to be desired for his Kolbe squad. After a slow start for both teams, Immacuate seized control and came out on top, 61-43. While Ian Gardner led Kolbe with 19 points, it was Sheldon Irving who finished off the Cougars with 18 big points as Immaculate (18-1) outscored Kolbe (17-2) 32-18 in the second half.
- Fairfield Prep started the season 5-2 but has ripped off twelve straight wins, guaranteeing themselves a top-7 seed in the state tournament. Sitting at 17-2, the Jesuits face a good Chesire squad on Monday to finish the season before facing their conference foes in the SCC tourney. Terry Tarpey didn't need a huge performance in his home finale to cement himself as one of the best players in the history of the program, but his 29 points left no doubt as to where he ultimately fits in the school's list of all-time greats, and that is at or near the top. Tarpey has been one of the most consistently dominant performers in the state this year and if it weren't for Kris Dunn, he'd probably be considered the favorite to win the Gatorade State Player of the Year award. If things work out though, fans across the state might be blessed with a Tarpey-Dunn matchup at some point in the LL tournament.
- Wilcox Tech sophomore Roosevelt Shider has been one of the most dynamic scorers in the state throughout the season. Shider has averaged a league-high 23.1 points per game while leading Wilcox to a 14-5 record thus far. Shider may only stand about 5'7" but he's no stranger to the paint, scoring most of his points while attacking opposing big men and putting enough space between him and his man to hit open outside jumpers. Shider has two more years to do damage, something Constitution State Conference coaches will undoubtedly lose sleep over.
- Kahlil Dukes was the highest-scoring freshman in the country two years ago but took on a different role last year while leading Capital Prep deep into the tournament. He decided to distribute more often and proved to college coaches that he could be a lead guard at the college level. Now that he's set aside any doubt about his game and spent the summer playing alongside some of the best players in the country with the Connecticut Basketball Club, there's a more pressure-free feel to Dukes' game and his teammates and coaches are reaping the benefits. He's led Capital (17-2) to 12 straight victories and the Longhorns looked ready to make yet another run in Class S. After Dukes dropped 37 points against city rival Weaver, it was apparent to opposing coaches and players that you have to pick your poison with this year's Capital squad. Not only can Dukes beat you in multiple ways but Levy Gillespie Jr., DeWayne Wynn (a recent addition to the school's 1,000-point club) and Brandon Marshall (who is also close to the milestone) are all legitimate matchup problems. Nobody would be surprised if Class S stays true to their seeds and #1-#4 all reach the final four. Immaculate, Kolbe, Capital and Classical all have a terrific chance to make it deep into March, with each having their own terrific go-to player.
- Shane Gibson was one of the most over-looked recruits in New England a few years ago, but has settled in to his role at Sacred Heart University quite nicely, to say the least. The 6'2" shooting guard from Killingly, CT has combined a smooth stroke and an unrelenting style of play en route to becoming the leading scorer in the Northeast Conference. Gibson has averaged over 20 points per and had a season-high 41 against Mount Saint Mary's, shooting 16-28 from the field on January 28th. He's also gotten hot at the right time, averaging over 27 ppg over the last four games as Sacred Heart heads into the NEC tournament. He hasn't been affected by the big boys this season either, scoring 25 and 22 respectively against Notre Dame and Boston College.