Jeff Nielsen quickly remembered the last time Amity was the No. 2 seed in the SCC boys basketball tournament.
It was 18 years ago, in 2001, when the tournament was just an eight-team field. North Haven’s Frank Suppa hit the winning shot and the Indians moved on.
The Spartans are back in the No. 2 spot again this season, sporting a 15-5 regular-season record. They have already earned a bye into Saturday’s quarterfinals.
“We ave a good group of guys. We don’t rely on one guy to do the scoring or to be the lead player like Tyler (Thomas) last year,” Nielsen said. “We have a more balanced attack.”
Last season, Thomas led the Spartans to the CIAC Division II state championship game, the program’s first appearance in a state final. Some of the cast has returned in hopes of having another successful postseason.
“It’s definitely hard not for the kids to think about making another postseason run,” Nielsen said. “They are thinking long-term and big picture and we are all for that. They know what it takes to get there. No matter what videos you can show them or stories you can tell them, there is no substitute for having that experience.”
Senior co-captains Joe Benedetti, a forward, and Mike Young, the point guard, have helped lead the way. Tanner Thomas, Tyler’s younger brother, and James Van Hise are the top two scoring options for the Spartans.
“Tanner is a solid player inside and a super rebounder. He is the back line of our defense,” Nielsen said. “James usually guards a tough player on the other team. There are plenty of good guards in the SCC. James is a quiet leader who wants to take the big shot at the end of the game. He wants the ball in his hands.”
Cole Wissink was Amity’s sixth man last season. He completes the starting five and has contributed on both ends of the floor.
The highlight of the regular season was sweeping Wilbur Cross and winning the SCC Housatonic Division. Amity won’t know its quarterfinal opponent until the first round is completed Thursday.
Situation handled well
— Mike Madera (@MikeMadera2) February 16, 2019
You will often see Buddy Chernovetz out watching his officials work New Haven area basketball games. As the commissioner of the International Association of Approved Basketball Officials Board 10, it comes with the territory.
Chernovetz was there at Wilbur Cross High Friday night to watch the Governors hand Notre Dame-West Haven its first loss in the regular-season finale for both teams. He was also there to see a hard foul lead to some pushing and shoving and both benches emptying.
The incident occurred with 14 seconds left in overtime. Fans also made their way onto the court. When order was restored, the referees deemed just one ejection, Notre Dame’s Bangaly Cherif. So just one set of technical free throws was shot.
“I sat there and watched the entire game. (The officials) did a magnificent job. They didn’t do one thing wrong,” Chernovetz said. “New Haven (security and police) did a tremendous job making sure this didn’t get out of hand.”
Said Notre Dame coach Jason Shea after Friday’s loss: “It was a very intense game. Both teams made some poor choices and got a little out of control. At the end of the game we shook hands. Cross deserved to win. It was a good basketball game.”
Chernovetz noted the officials got together and collectively deemed that it wasn’t a fight. Had they done so, every single player who left the bench would have been ejected.
Since both teams have completed their regular seasons and both will receive a first-round bye in the SCC tournament, all of those players would have had to sit out the quarterfinal games on Saturday.
But, more importantly, both teams would have been disqualified from the CIAC Division I state tournament.
On page 92 of the CIAC handbook, under the disqualification criteria, it states, in bold letters: “Any CIAC team that accumulates five (5) or more disqualifications during the regular season, including the league’s tournament will be barred from CIAC post-season competition.”
“Everyone left the bench,” Chernovetz said. “You don’t eject them unless you have to. If my guys started throwing people out, Wilbur Cross and Notre Dame would not be in the (state) tournament. You have to apply the rule with common sense.”
Chernovetz said as of Sunday the only people he has spoken with about the incident was the officials, no one from either team. Also, once the officials leave the arena, CIAC considers the matter closed and there is no room for an appeal.
This incident comes on the heels of another altercation between Newington and host Rocky Hill on Feb. 7. It occurred in the fourth quarter, also the result of a hard foul. Adults also came onto the court.
There were two differences: one player from each team was ejected and the game was suspended with Newington leading. The final 5 minutes were completed last Wednesday in front of no spectators.