— Joe Morelli (@nhrJoeMorelli) December 17, 2017
HARTFORD – The two-time champs are primed and ready for a three-peat it seems — albeit in a different division, so to speak.
Fourth-ranked Hillhouse dismantled No. 10 Weaver 80-56 at Stan Ogrodnik Court Saturday at Trinity College. It was the final game of five at the third annual GHPA Spirit of Doc Classic.
Hillhouse won the last two Class LL state championships. The Academics are now one of 21 teams in Division I in this new five-division format. Weaver is also in the division.
Hillhouse lost four starters from last year’s team, but appears to be ready for another banner season in pursuit of that 25th CIAC state championship banner.
“I’ve got some young guys who aren’t as disciplined as they should be,” Hillhouse coach Renard Sutton said. “The more we get in shape, the more settled down, relaxed and we get comfortable with the fact of being out here playing in these big games.”
Davon Warner was the game MVP with 18 points. Mekhi Warren, the one returning starter, finished with 15 points and five blocks.
“It’s defense first,” Warren said. “It’s all of us together. Whoever is down, we have to pick him up. Senior or not, we’ve got to play together.”
Tristian Reid led Weaver with 15 points.
“We knew it was going to be a tough matchup,” Weaver coach Reggie Hatchett said. “Our starting point guard is ineligible until Jan. 18 (Armani Anderson), probably our best ballhandler. The way the schedule worked out, we had to take teams that would agree to play us. Hillhouse is a team we would rather play later in the season as opposed to a first game. I have a lot of young guys.”
Hillhouse now gets to face Wilbur Cross Wednesday.
“We’ll use these first five games and come out strong,” Sutton said. Hillhouse follows up with Middletown, Windsor and Career. “For us, it’s representing 480 Sherman Parkway (the school’s address), coming out and trying to execute our stuff. Use these as gauge games until February.”
No. 1 East Catholic 89, Middletown 62: Joey Reilly led six players in double figures with 16 points for top-ranked East Catholic defeated fellow Central Connecticut Conference rival Middletown.
Will Pineo added 16 points for the Eagles.
“We shared the ball and were able to execute. We settled in and got the jitters out. I thought we played well,” East Catholic coach Luke Reilly said. :They have been in a lot of big games and this was an awesome atmosphere. It was a great game for a lot of different guys. I just think we need to tighten things up defensively.”
Reilly dismissed the notion of extra pressure of being preseason No. 1.
“The polls don’t really matter until the end,” Reilly said. “They do a good job staying detached from that, keeping their egos in check and come ready to work.”
Middletown coach Rick Privott liked the way his team competed in the early going.
“We are going to have to fine-tune a whole lot of things, stop the turnovers, box out better on defense and work to help each other out,” Privott said.
Prince Tech 67, Bloomfield 55: Delshawn Jackson poured in 31 points and added six rebounds to earn game MVP honors for Prince Tech.
Kazell Stewart added 13 points for Prince Tech. Alfonzo Stokes led the Warhawks, a Class M state finalist last season, with 17 points.
Ledyard 43, Northwest Catholic 35: Ken Turner had 10 points and eight rebounds as Ledyard came from behind to win the opener at the Classic.
Northwest Catholic led 14-2 after the first quarter.
“Trevor (Hutchins) and Kenny are the only ones out there that really had varsity experience,” Ledyard coach Dave Cornish said. “The other guys, it was just nerves (for the slow start). That’s all it was. … I would say it will take eight games to figure it out. I don’t know who will start the next game. We’re going to try and put the rest of the pieces together.”