Two years ago on the same night in the same city, Bassick and Weaver played for league tournament titles in boys basketball.
Bassick won the final Constitution State Conference tournament crown, winning at Prince Tech in Hartford. Weaver played for the Central Connecticut Conference title, losing to East Catholic at Bulkeley High.
Both teams have had to fill its regular season schedules the last two seasons as independents — including playing one another both seasons. And in most cases, it’s been a road trip.
“We’ve been to Hartford five times (over the two years), we’ve been to Fitch (in Groton, this year) and we’ve been to Danbury. It’s been a grueling, long season,” Bassick coach Bernie Lofton said.
Two of those trips to Hartford were to play Weaver at Classical Magnet. Bassick, the state’s third ranked team, won 84-65 this year.
“I think the hardest part is when you have a history of being a great team, it’s hard to find teams who want to play you,” Weaver coach Reggie Hatchett said. “Most of the teams who want to play you are perennial powerhouses like the Bassicks, the Windsors and the East Catholics. You wind up with a record not being as strong, but still better than some of the 15-6 or 16-4 teams.”
Weaver has been without a true home court since the 2014-15 season. The Beavers are expected to have a new home gym for next season. But the scheduling likely won’t change.
Both teams also played in a December tournament in Waterbury. Bassick defeated Upper Room Christian (N.Y.) while Weaver lost to Sacred Heart..
Bassick has eight regular-season home games this season, including both East Catholic and Hillhouse. Because of its success, the Lions won’t even get to host a game in the Division I state tournament.
And, while other teams are playing for league titles, the Lions will play their city rival Harding — another independent — on Tuesday to conclude the regular season.
“I like the toughness of our schedule, but the kids miss out on the conference tournament. We would have had a good shot to win any league this year,” Lofton said. “We miss out on that, but you can’t throw anything at us that we aren’t prepared for.”
Amistad out of New Haven has been an independent school since beginning its varsity program in the 2009-10 season. The Wolves had 10 home games and have played the likes of Weaver, Norwalk, Stratford, Kolbe Cathedral and New London and plays at one-loss Classical Magnet on Tuesday.
“The primary benefit is the flexibility to build a challenging schedule against diverse competition. Amistad kids get to play top teams and top players from around the state every year,” Amistad coach Ryan Ott said. “When you do not face regular conference opponents, it requires a lot of traveling around the state to scout new teams each year.”
State tournament outlook
The CIAC state tournament pairings are due to come out on Wednesday. Let’s take a brief sneak peak:
East Catholic will be the top seed in Division I, followed by Notre Dame-West Haven. Bassick still had two games left at press time that could impact its seeding – and Sacred Heart as well.
Since there are just 20 teams in this stacked division, the top 12 seeds get byes into the second round on March 6 — and none of them will get to play a home game. All second-round games will be played at neutral sites. One of the notable first-round games on March 4: Hillhouse at Wilbur Cross.
Waterford, last year’s Division III state champion, is now the top seed in Division II and will receive a first-round bye, as will Glastonbury, Wilton and Manchester. Amity, which advanced to the Division II final last season, is the No. 5 seed and will host Kennedy on March 5.
Some dangerous mid-level seeds lurking in this bracket include Stamford (10), Crosby (11) and WCA (13).
Wamogo, one of three remaining undefeated teams, is the top seed in Division III. The Warriors were a Division V finalist last season. Prince Tech and Farmington will be the No. 2 and 3 seeds, respectively.
The top eight seeds will receive a bye into the second round. Dangerous lower seeds that can make a run are Newtown (11), Stratford (12) and West Haven (13).
Another unbeaten, Cromwell, last year’s Division V state champion, is the top seed in Division IV. Classical Magnet, which has only lost at Wamogo, is the No. 2 seed, followed by Granby and New Canaan, all of who will receive first-round byes.
The top five seeds in Division V — Innovation, Somers, Old Lyme, Nonnewaug and Valley Regional — all receive first-round byes. Morgan, the No. 6 seed, will host Haddam-Killingworth in the third matchup of the season between Shoreline Conference rivals.
CIAC coaches clinic at Mohegan
Prior to the CIAC state finals on March 16-17, the CIAC will be holding the Connecticut High School Basketball Coaching Clinic on March 15 at 7 p.m.
The three-hour event will feature presentations from three state collegiate coaches: Sacred Heart University men’s head coach Anthony Latina, Eastern Connecticut State women’s head coach Denise Bierly and Coast Guard Academy men’s head coach Kevin Jaskiewicz. There will also be a question-and-answer session on National Federation High School (NFHS) rules.
Any high school basketball coach can attend the clinic for $15. This also includes a complimentary ticket for all three sessions of the state finals.
For more information, contact FCIAC commissioner Dave Schulz at 203-650-5765 or firstname.lastname@example.org.