A number of Southern Connecticut Conference teams are on the verge of qualifying for both the state and league tournaments.
One of those teams is West Haven. After falling short the previous three seasons, the Westies are on a four-game winning streak and stand one victory away from reaching the postseason.
That could come today against East Haven, but coach Harry Bosley said despite no one on the current team having ever played in the postseason, the bar is set higher than that.
“I don’t know if the guys will celebrate. It’s part of the business at hand,” Bosley said. “We haven’t made it in the last few years, but the mission is to get a good standing in the (LL) tournament. You don’t want to play the No. 1 team right away. You want to win 13, 14, 15 games.”
Those numbers aren’t out of the realm of possibility, even in the toughest division in the SCC. More interesting than West Haven’s seven victories are two of its losses.
The Blue Devils blew a 10-point lead with just over 3 minutes to play at Notre Dame-West Haven and lost at the buzzer on a 3-pointer by Alex Puzone. Less than a week later, West Haven had the state’s top-ranked team on the ropes, building a 10-point lead against Fairfield Prep in the second half before the Jesuits rallied.
“We missed a defensive assignment and the kid hits a three and we lose,” Bosley said. “Our guys played great against the No. 1 team in the state. We’ve taken that and run with it.”
The Westies also have a two-point loss at home to Xavier, another SCC Quinnipiac team that was ranked in the top 10 until this week.
Bosley said the team has used the losses as “character builders.” It’s a group that he said has remained “focused and disciplined” so far.
The captains have had plenty to do with that. Senior guard Gary Dudley leads the team at 18.8 ppg. Senior forward Thomas Brim (6-0) and senior center Ken Graham (6-3) may be a little undersized at their positions, but the Westies need both to continue to have success.
“Gary has expanded his game to a whole different level. He’s not just a 3-point shooter,” Bosley said. “Ken is really the nucleus of the team. He can come out and handle the ball and makes good decisions. Against Prep, he almost had a triple-double (10 points, 10 rebounds, nine assists). Brim anticipates well and rebounds well.”
Add in guards Eric Singleton and Aaron Spann and the Westies can certainly be a factor once the postseason begins.