New London has come a long way from last year’s Class L championship loss to Capital Prep.
Bumped to Class LL this season, senior forward India Pagan and the rest of the Whalers encountered only a speed bump or two on their road to the second state championship in school history.
Career ended their bid for a perfect regular season, then rival Norwich Free Academy bested them in the season finale.
But New London righted itself. It avenged its loss NFA to claim the ECC Division I title. In the state tournament, the Whaler knocked off defending state champion Stamford, CCC champion Enfield and FCIAC champion Trumbull to claim its first Class LL title.
Add in early season victories over eventual Class L champion Hand and Class M finalist Bacon Academy, the Whalers finished 26-2 and had one of the state’s best resumes.
“We don’t really follow it much in the beginning of the season because it doesn’t really mean much,” New London coach Holly Misto said. “We haven’t seen anybody really play. As long as we’re No. 1 on March 20, that’s what we care about.”
On Tuesday, voters unanimously agreed: New London is the No. 1 girls basketball team in Connecticut.
This is the first No. 1 ranking in program history.
“It feels amazing,” Pagan said. It’s been back and forth, back and forth, so not anybody really knows who’s No. 1 throughout the year, but now everybody knows New London High School is the No. 1 team in the state.”
The Whalers have now won two state titles in three years. Their first was in Class M in 2014.
Class L champion Hand vaulted to No. 2. Class LL runner-up Trumbull, which held the top spot heading into the postseason, was voted No. 3. Class L runner-up Holy Cross leaped from unranked to No. 4.
Capital Prep, which has been No. 1 the last two seasons, finished this year No. 5 after losing to Holy Cross in the Class L semifinals. SCC champion and Class LL semifinalist Mercy finishes sixth. Class M champion New Fairfield chimes in at No. 7.
Final 2016-17 Girls Basketball Top 10
|1. NEW LONDON||26-2||15||450||3||LL|
Bottom Line: India Pagan scored 18 points and had 11 rebounds to lead the Whalers over previous No. 1 Trumbull in the Class LL championship and to their second state title.
Bottom Line: Gabby Egidio and Emma Sullivan scored 12 apiece to rally Hand past Holy Cross in the Class L final, the Tigers’ first championship since 1999.
Bottom Line: Julie Keckler scored 12 points, but the FCIAC champions were stymied in the fourth quarter of their Class LL championship loss to New London.
|4. HOLY CROSS||25-2||0||313||NR||L|
Bottom Line: The Crusaders rallied from their NVL title loss by knocking off Capital Prep in the semifinals. But they fell victim to a Hand rally in the Class L championship game.
|5. CAPITAL PREP||21-6||0||294||2||L|
Bottom Line: The Trailblazers’ 90-game, in-state win streak and their four-year run as state champions came to an end thanks to Holy Cross in the Class L semifinals.
Bottom Line: The SCC Champions took Trumbull to overtime in the Class LL semifinals, but fell short of playing for a state title with a 45-38 loss.
|7. NEW FAIRFIELD||24-4||0||280||NR||M|
Botton Line: Kristen Teklits etched her name into New Fairfield lore, scoring 24 points with seven rebounds and four steals to lead the Rebels to their first title since 1992.
Bottom Line: The CCC champions got within a game of playing for the Class LL championship, but fell to No. 1 New London, 57-36 in the semifinals.
Bottom Line: The ECC runners up, and one of two teams to solve New London this year, fell to Trumbull, 45-40, in the Class LL quarterfinals.
|10. BACON ACADEMY||20-7||0||179||NR||M|
Bottom Line: The 11th-seeded Bobcats rolled all the way to the Class M championship game, only to lose a close, 41-38, decision to New Fairfield.
Dropped out: Stamford (8), Middletown (9), Bethel (10).
First-place votes in parentheses and points tabulated on a 30-28-26-24-22-20-18-16-14-12-11-10-9-8-7 basis.
Others receiving votes
Stamford (20-6), 168; Canton (23-4), 146; Career (20-5), 115; Middletown (23-4), 88; Waterford, 70 (20-6); Bethel (20-3), 40; Thomaston (23-5), 29; Glastonbury (20-5), 24; Notre Dame-Fairfield (20-5), 37; E.O. Smith (17-7), 19; Fairfield Warde (16-6), 27; Suffield (22-3), 15; St. Paul, 8 (22-4).
The following voted
Marc Allard, Norwich Bulletin; David Danko, Fairfield Warde; Eric DeMarco, Notre Dame-Fairfield; Vickie Fulkerson, The Day of New London; Tim Jensen, Patch; Ken Lipshez, Meriden Record-Journal; Mike Madera, New Haven Register; Scott Nails, Rye; Dave Phillips, Shoreline Newspapers; Lori Riley, Hartford Courant; Mike Suppe, HAN Network; Derek Turner, GameTimeCT; Fred Williams, Northwestern; Rick Wilson, Waterbury Republican-American; Richard Zalusky, Willimantic Chronicle.
Poll Compiled by Sean Patrick Bowley