There was never a sense of panic when the Guilford boys basketball team started the season 1-5. In fact, there was more annoyance for the longtime head coach having two weeks off in between Games 1 and 2.
“I’ve never had that long of a break before,” said Guilford coach Jeff DeMaio, now in his 11th season piloting the Indians’ program and 21st overall as a head coach. “Game 2 almost felt like another Game 1. I normally get a non-conference game or two in there, but we were not able to make those dates work. I reached out to a few coaches in the SCC to see if they could move a game, but that didn’t work out, either.”
So after losing the opener by 24 to Xavier, the Indians waited 14 days for loss No. 2 against Hand.
After that rough stretch, here Guilford is at 8-9, qualified for both the SCC and CIAC Division II state tournaments after beating Platt Tech 60-50 on Thursday.
“I still think there is a sense of relief, I don’t care how long you have been doing it for, when you hit eight wins,” DeMaio said. “At least you catch your breath and enjoy the night. Now, the message is, ‘Ok, now you have to get greedy and you have to win some more to increase our seeding. That’s what we will try to do.”
The Indians became the 13th team to qualify for the SCC tournament. Amity became team No. 14 after winning 53-50 at Career Friday night. The Spartans have won three of their last four games.
“We are definitely playing better than a few weeks ago,” Amity coach Jeff Nielsen said. “There’s been daily reminders to stay focused, leave it all out on the floor for your teammates, not yourself, and defend no matter what, no matter how you’re shooting, no matter how the offense is working, no matter what gym you’re in.”
That loss eliminated Career from postseason consideration. Both Hand and Branford need wins in its final two games in order to qualify for the SCC tournament.
So there will either be one or two first-round byes. Notre Dame-West Haven and Hillhouse are the top two seeds at this time. The tournament begins Feb. 27 at the site of the higher seed.
“We’ve played just about everybody at the top end over the last couple of years,” DeMaio said. “I think there are two team a cut above, Hillhouse and Notre Dame. I think the league overall is better this year. There have been some really competitive games if you look at the scores.”
On top in the FCIAC, SWC
After weeks of teams jumping in and out of the top spot, it looks like there seems to be some semblance of order at the top of the FCIAC standings.
Ridgefield has managed to stay atop the standings with just one loss. The Tigers control their destiny to claim the top seed in defense of their tournament championship.
As of Monday morning, Trinity Catholic and Fairfield Warde are tied for second one game behind Ridgefield. Trinity Catholic holds the tiebreaker over both Ridgefield and Warde.
Fairfield Ludlowe is currently in the fourth spot and holds the tiebreaker over St. Joseph, which sits a game behind. The top eight seeds start the tournament at Fairfield Warde on Feb. 29.
Immaculate will likely once again be the top seed when the SWC tournament quarterfinals begin on Feb. 28. The Mustangs haven’t lost yet and own a two-game lead on Kolbe Cathedral and Weston.
Weston holds the tiebreaker over Kolbe if the two teams remain tied through the regular season. Pomperaug, Newtown and Barlow are a game behind Weston and Kolbe going into Monday’s action.
Bunnell is currently in danger of missing a chance to defend its championship after getting swept last week by Stratford and New Milford.
Trumbull senior guard Quentar Taylor missed Thursday’s loss to Wilton. Trumbull coach Buddy Bray said Taylor, one of the key holdovers from last year’s run to the CIAC Division I state semifinals, would miss Monday’s game against Danbury, but didn’t say if he would be out for longer that that.
The Eagles also were without junior guard Mileeq Green against Danbury. Green was ejected from the Wilton game.
Hamden senior guard Jayvon Chapman has missed the last four games. Hamden athletic director Tom Dyer did not return a text message seeking comment whether Chapman would return or not this season.