Girls basketball beat: 10 reasons why you should care about the state tournament

1. CAN MERCY REPEAT? >> After three tough losses in state championship games, the Tigers

 The Mercy girls basketball team enjoys their SCC Championship trophy at the TD Bank Sports Center at Quinnipiac University in Hamden. The Tigers head into the Class LL tournament as one of the favorites.  (Arnold Gold-New Haven Register)

The Mercy girls basketball team enjoys their SCC Championship trophy at the TD Bank Sports Center at Quinnipiac University in Hamden. The Tigers head into the Class LL tournament as one of the favorites. (Arnold Gold-New Haven Register)

finally won a state crown courtesy of a Maria Weselyj buzzer-beating 3-pointer. Weselyj is now playing at Southern Connecticut State, and the Tigers best player is Division I prospect Maura Fitzpatrick. However, Class LL is loaded with teams like Career, Danbury, last year’s finalist Lauralton Hall and South Windsor. Can the Tigers get back to the final for a fifth straight year and win back-to-back titles?

DID YOU KNOW ?>> The last team to repeat was Norwich Free Academy in 2009 and 2010. NFA won the second of those two titles against Mercy by three points.

2. WILL WE SEE A REMATCH ?>> Two rivalry games could take place in Class LL. Mercy and Career could meet in the finals after splitting the season series before Mercy trounced Career by 24 in the SCC final. Also, Mercy could face Lauralton Hall, the team it beat last season in the Class LL final. If the Crusaders and Tigers win out, they’ll face each other in the semifinals.

DID YOU KNOW ?>> The last time two teams that played in the previous season’s final, played again in the next year’s final was 2000 when Norwalk avenged a loss to Norwich Free Academy in 1999.

3. CAN DANBURY DO IT? >> The FCIAC has not had a Class LL finalist since Fairfield High School lost to Windsor in 2004. However, the Hatters survived a tough season in the FCIAC, which featured contenders like Stamford, Westhill, Greenwich and Trumbull. The Hatters are the No. 1 seed in the upcoming tournament.

DID YOU KNOW ?>> The last time an FCIAC team won Class LL was Norwalk in 2000. The last time two FCIAC teams played each other in the Class LL title game was 1995 when Staples topped Bridgeport Central.

4. WILL ANYONE BEAT CAPITAL PREP? >> So far the answer has been no. The Trailblazers have

Capital Prep celebrates its seventh-straight CSC title on Thursday (via @CEOBIGMIKE on Twitter) Capital Prep is the only undefeated team in the state.

Capital Prep celebrates its seventh-straight CSC title on Thursday (via @CEOBIGMIKE on Twitter) Capital Prep is the only undefeated team in the state.

caught some flak for playing out-of-state opponents, but now they have to prove they are the state’s best among a strong Class L field. Weaver, which is led by Capital Prep transfers DeJane “Snoop” James and Shaq Edwards, highlights a class full of teams eager to top the Trailblazers. Defending Class L champion Farmington came on strong at season’s end and finished with an 18-2 record. Ledyard and Avon have also been steady all season.

DID YOU KNOW? >> If Capital Prep wins the Class L title, it will be the first team to win back-to-back titles in two different classes since Kolbe Cathedral won Class S in 2007 and then won Class L in 2008.

5. WHAT ABOUT WEAVER? >> Weaver has been one of the hottest teams in Class L. With a fast-paced style of play, led by DeJane “Snoop” Edwards, Shaq Edwards and Alyssa Stewart, the Beavers are a strong favorite to make the title game.
Did you know? >> Weaver won the CCC title, its first ever in school history.

6. IS HOLY CROSS FOR REAL? >> The Crusaders have had to deal with the “they play a weak schedule” talk all season. Holy Cross lost its last game of the season 55-29 to Lauralton Hall. Heading into the state tournament, Holy Cross has to contend with the likes of defending champ Cromwell, which has not lost since Dec. 13, along with New London and Shoreline Conference finalist Morgan.

DID YOU KNOW? >> Holy Cross hasn’t won a state title since 2007.

Peter Casolino-New Haven Register Cromwell's Janelle Harrison puts up a shot as Morgan's Josie Sullivan defends during the second quarter of the SLC Championship.  The Panthers are looking to repeat in Class M

Peter Casolino-New Haven Register
Cromwell’s Janelle Harrison puts up a shot as Morgan’s Josie Sullivan defends during the second quarter of the SLC Championship. The Panthers are looking to repeat in Class M

7. CAN CROMWELL REPEAT? >> The Panthers have not lost a game since falling to Morgan on Dec. 13. The Panthers topped the Huskies again in overtime to win the Shoreline championship. Morgan is in Class M. Sensing a trend? If both teams win out, they would meet in the semifinals. If Cromwell is to repeat as champs, it might have to do one of the toughest things in basketball, beat a team three times in one season.

DID YOU KNOW? >> Cromwell has made it to the state title game in two out of the last three seasons.

Thomaston's girls basketball team celebrates its third-straight BL title. Thomaston has a chance to take Class S.  (Photo Peter Paguaga)

Thomaston’s girls basketball team celebrates its third-straight BL title. Thomaston has a chance to take Class S. (Photo Peter Paguaga)

8. WHO WILL TAKE A WIDE OPEN CLASS S? >> No Capital Prep means anybody can take Class S. The Trailblazers made a mockery of the class last season, winning each game by more than 20 points. This season St. Paul, Sacred Heart, last season’s finalist Thomaston and Bolton are all in the driver’s seat heading into the tournament.

DID YOU KNOW? >> With Capital Prep moving up, this will be the ninth straight season that no team will repeat as Class S champion. The last team to do it was Kolbe Cathedral in 2004 and 2005.

9. WHO IS THE STATE’S BEST PLAYER? >> Stats aside, the best players make their names in the playoffs. Kiah Gillespie at Capital Prep, Tanaya Atkinson at Career, Maura Fitzpatrick at Mercy, Janelle Harrison at Cromwell, Sarah Veilleuz of RHAM and many others will have not just the weight of their teams on their shoulders, but will also have to prove yet again why they are the state’s best.

DID YOU KNOW? >> In a fan poll taken this preseason on GametimeCT.com, 49 percent of the 1,389 people that voted thought that Gillespie was the state’s best. Right behind her was her teammate Desiree Elmore with 39 percent. Third was Atkinson who received 56 votes.

10. WILL THE NEW PLAYOFF SYSTEM CHANGE ANYTHING? >> Capital Prep is now in Class L due to a rule moving school’s of choice up depending on success in the state tournament. So far, it seems like the rule change might make for an entertaining tournament. Class L is loaded with talent from Capital Prep to Lyman Hall and Class S is more balanced than it was last season.

Also, if the Trailblazers advance to the quarterfinals again this season, that would move them up to Class LL next season. So there’s a chance we might get to see Capital Prep play Mercy after all.

DID YOU KNOW? >> Even with the rule changes, three of the four champions from last season are still favored to win the title again. Mercy in Class LL, Capital Prep in Class L and Cromwell in Class M. If all those teams, and Thomaston in Class S, advance to the final, four of the eight teams that played in the final last season will be back in it again this season.

Comments

  1. McG says

    You guys continue to give little credit to Danbury. Has anyone seem them play this year? They are a very strong team in a very tough division (FCIAC). Give them credit and maybe post a picture or two. Go Hatters!!

  2. ciacfan says

    Danbury is my pick to win LL…Seniors make a big difference, and they are well coached.

    Also, not sure why the “Did you Know” does not include Farmington and Lauralton Hall, considering they are the #2 seed in L and LL.

    There’s a chance we see 6 of the same 8 teams…who knows maybe even ND makes a run in S.

    • hchoops fan says

      i think danbury is a very good team, but i think its tough to guage how they compare against the best teams from other conferences given the past history of fciac over the past 10 yrs. They tend to get knocked out in state tournaments relatively early, that may change this year? Maybe the fciac is improved

  3. Commenter says

    Danbury is very good, and the twins are really fantastic. But they don’t score a lot and really are not that deep. Do they have the finishers to benefit from their great guard play, like say Weaver? One team is going to get hot from outside and that will be their end.

    • McG says

      Yet another who has not seen Danbury play this year. The defense is huge part of their game (averaging 30 pts. against in 23 matches) The Gartners are a big part of the offense but the rebounding and blocked shots by both Handberry and A. Smith are another reason why they won their division and are #1 going into the States. They will win the LL this year!

      • Ballerfan says

        I guess Danbury gets somewhat ignored because year after year they have strong teams, win their conference and don’t get as far as expected in the State tournament. …this year may be different.

        • sportsfan says

          I haven’t seen Danbury play this year but I’m surprised the Simsbury (8-6 in the CCC West 4th place )game was so close. Within 6 with a minute to go. I’ve seen the Gartner’s play in AAU they are very good. Anybody see the game!

          • FCIAC Fan 1 says

            I was at the Danbury / Simsbury game. Simsbury was on fire from 3pt land which is why it was so close but in the end Danbury’s defense came alive as they usually do late in the game. It seemed like an off night for Danbury

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