Connecticut State Championships Will Be Decided Saturday
Class LL - #5 Trinity Catholic vs. #3 Crosby, 8:15pm at UConn’s Gampel Pavilion
Trinity Catholic High School (Stamford, Connecticut) will meet Crosby High School (Waterbury, Connecticut) on Saturday night for Connecticut’s most prestigious title. This is the third time in the last five years that these two storied programs have met up in the state final with each team owning one victory.
This season, Crosby has certainly been more dominant as of late, riding a 21 game winning streak into Saturday’s game. But Trinity Catholic has been better challenged, especially in the semi-finals when they knocked off top ranked Windsor.
In fact, Trinity’s road to the finals has been full of tests, and they have passed each one. In the second round they faced off against Torrington High School and their dominant big man Jordan Williams. With Torrington holding a slim lead in the game’s final seconds, Trinity point guard Eric Jean-Guillaume went the full length of the floor and converted a buzzer beater that allowed his team to play another day. After defeating Notre Dame (West Haven, Connecticut) in the quarterfinals, Trinity locked up with the top seed, Windsor High School, in Wednesday’s semi-finals. In a game that thrilled the crowd at the New Haven Athletic Center, Trinity survived and advanced 56-52. They are led into Saturday’s final by their junior big man Tevin Baskin. After having already scored his 1000th point and earned scholarship offers from a variety of program in the A-10 and Big East, Baskin is the next in a long line of star players to come out of Trinity including Craig Austrie (UConn), David McClure (Duke), and Rashamel Jones (UConn).
In Duquesne bound swingman B.J. Monteiro, Crosby has a star of their own to rely on. Monteiro is likely the state’s best pure scorer as his ability to create his own shot is virtually unrivaled. But he is far from a one man show as sharp-shooting junior point guard Anthony Ireland, along with Lavor Moore, must also be given special attention. Crosby has advanced to Saturday’s final without having played in a game decided by less than 8 points. On Wednesday they defeated Harding (Bridgeport, Connecticut) 84-75 in the semi-final behind 22 from Monteiro, 20 from Ireland, and 19 from Moore.
Class L - #8 Lyman Hall vs. #6 Maloney, 5:45pm at UConn’s Gampel Pavilion
Cinderella is still dancing in the CIAC! Lyman Hall’s (Wallingford, Connecticut) improbable run has taken them all the way to the state finals where they will meet Maloney (Meriden, Connecticut) who returns to the championship game for the second consecutive year. Although the two teams don’t play each other in the regular season, it is a bit of a local rivalry with the schools being separated by about 10 miles.
Lyman Hall’s run began in the first round where they defeated Kennedy (Waterbury, Connecticut) 43-37, then in the second round they defeated Avon High School in overtime 71-69, in the quarterfinals they shocked top seeded Wilbur Cross (New Haven, Connecticut) 55-52. It was more dramatics in Wednesday’s semi-finals as they knocked off E.O. Smith (Mansfield, Connecticut) by only 1 point, 43-42. Lyman Hall will be led by sophomore forward Jefferson Lora, junior guard Zach Russo, and senior guard Dan Weidmann.
For Maloney, Saturday’s final is a chance for redemption. Last year they brought their undefeated record into the final before losing to Weaver High School (Hartford, Connecticut). This year they are hoping that their experience will help them get over the hump. They have a balanced line-up led by an explosive guard in Rashamell Vereen, a do-it-all wing player in Johrone Bunch, and a powerful big man in Shoquan Stevens. They have been dominant thus far in the tournament, winning by an average margin of 18 points per game, including a 72-50 outcome against Florida bound big man Allan Chaney and New London in the semi-finals.
Class M - #5 Stratford vs. #2 Hartford Public, 2pm, CCSU’s Detrick Gymnasium
Stratford has won 13 games in a row while earning only the school’s second trip to the state finals. But they have a major challenge ahead of them on Saturday as they run into a battle tested Hartford Public team. Although both teams are exceptionally well balanced there are certainly plenty of talented players in this game. Stratford has seniors Tim Martin and Joseph Charles along with a trio of talented sophomores in Russell Payton, Jason Charles, and Brandon Sherod. Hartford Public has an explosive backcourt (senior Rasheem McCoy, junior Arshad Jackson, and sophomores Danny Lawhorn and Lamar Burgess) to go along with terrific size in the middle (6’9” junior Daryl McCoy and 6’7” senior Brandon Mann). Stratford enters the game with a record of 18-6, while Hartford Public is 19-4.
Class S - #7 Kolbe Cathedral vs. #21 Bloomfield, 11am, CCSU’s Detrick Gymnasium
The fact that Kolbe Cathedral (Bridgeport, Connecticut) and Bloomfield came into this tournament with the 7th and 21st seeds just goes to show you how inaccurate the CIAC’s seeding system continues to be. Kolbe has been the overwhelming favorite ever since the tournament draw was announced, and those expectations remain going into Saturday’s final. Although Dominique Langston and Andrae Beckford continue to drive Kolbe, they are hoping for another big performance from sophomore Ronnie Underwood who scored 21 in the semi-final victory over Ansonia. Another sophomore, Rashad Moore, will lead a Bloomfield squad that isn’t likely to be overwhelmed by Kolbe’s pressure defense after competing in the CCC all year long.