Hillhouse and Notre Dame-West Haven played the most anticipated game for the entire boys basketball season: two undefeated teams facing off for the SCC tournament championship at the TD Bank Sports Center at Quinnipiac University in Hamden.
The game was sold out at 3,421 people three hours before game time. Tickets were being scalped outside the arena. Hillhouse won 70-62 and went on to win its 24th CIAC state championship.
Hillhouse lost four starters, including two to prep school (Byron Breland III and Christian Adams), but is still the favorite. We won’t have a game as anticipated this season, but will someone be able to match the Academics? Could it be Wilbur Cross? Notre Dame-West Haven? Someone else?
5 TEAMS TO WATCH
Few teams in the entire state, if any, could lose four starters and still be the conference favorite. But depth isn’t an issue for the Academics: players ready to step in and contribute to try and win a 25th CIAC championship.
Last season ended on a sour note, losing to Fairfield Prep in the Class LL state tournament opening round at home 70-48. Behind co-captains Will Antrum, Jaykeen Foreman and Kwane Taylor, the Governors should be among the league favorites.
Notre Dame-West Haven
Guards Tremont Waters (LSU) and Tim Dawson (Hamden Hall), along with Jalanni White (Canisius) have moved on, but starters Mike Brooks and Connor Raines are a good starting point. The Green Knights won’t go undefeated during the regular season, but they won’t be to far off, either.
The Spartans lost several starters but return Tyler Thomas, arguably the league’s best returning player, and fellow co-captain Jack Nolan, a good nucleus for a program that will make some noise.
Returns four starters from a team that won 16 games. Indians will have to figure out how to replace point guard and leading scorer Jordan Krause and deal with Fairfield Prep and Xavier in its own division. Success in those categories and the Indians will be there in March.
5 PLAYERS TO WATCH
Silky smooth guard, can fill up the stat column for points, rebounds and assists. Unselfish player who can lead Amity to new heights.
Mekhi Warren, Hillhouse, 6-5, F, Sr.
Power forward and only returning starter from the two-time Class LL state champs should be an automatic double-double.
Connor Raines, Notre Dame-West Haven, 6-5, G, Jr.
Becomes the go-to guy for the Green Knights. Can get his points in the paint and can shoot it from three-point range.
Josiah Steinman, West Haven, 5-10, G, Sr.
Can the Westies be a power to be reckoned with in the SCC? If so, this underrated guard leads the way.
Will Antrum, Wilbur Cross, 6-0, G, Sr.
Governors will need him night in, night out on the offensive end. Averaged 14.0 ppg. last season.
5 GAMES TO WATCH
Wilbur Cross at Hillhouse (Floyd Little Athletic Center), Wednesday, 7 p.m.: Every other year it seems, these two Elm City rivals meet up early in the season. Hillhouse trying to adjust after losing four starters. Interestingly, the rematch falls on Valentine’s Day.
Windsor vs. Hillhouse at Wilbur Cross, Dec. 27, 5:30 p.m.: Marquee game of the third annual Saulsbury Invitational.
Trinity Catholic vs. Career at Wilbur Cross, Dec. 30, 3 p.m.: Trinity Catholic moves up to Division I after winning Class S last season. Career looking to try and be an SCC contender once again.
Notre Dame-West Haven at West Haven, Jan. 12, 7 p.m.: Notre Dame survived the upset bid by the Westies in this game last season.
Notre Dame-West Haven at Wilbur Cross, Jan. 24, 7 p.m.: Cross came close a couple times, but couldn’t knock off Notre Dame. Will the outcome be different this season between these Oronoque Division rivals?