There’s no substitute for experience, especially when most of those experienced boys basketball players are seniors.
Fairfield Ludlowe has eight seniors in its rotation, five of whom start. The Falcons won their first four games and should be an FCIAC contender.
“Two of them were starters as sophomores, two others played significant minutes as sophomores We went 2-18,” said John Dailey, a former player at the former Fairfield High two decades ago before the school split back into Ludlowe and Warde. “I told them after we won the (Fairfield) holiday tournament that we have had so many close losses, that you have to go through tough times to be successful.”
All eight seniors serve as captains,.All got to experience winning the Fairfield Holiday Tournament. Ludlowe defeated Warde 54-42, its first title since 2009. A year ago, Warde edged Ludlowe 38-37 in the championship game.
“We’ve had a lot of tough nights in that building,” Dailey said. “To win on the last night of the tournament being held there in the original Alumni Hall was so special.”
The holiday tournament is scheduled to be held at Warde next season and then, possibly, at the new Convocation Center being built on Fairfield University’s campus in 2021.
Forward Ian Bentley, a 6-foot-6 southpaw, was the tournament MVP. He will play at Skidmore College next season. Bentley is averaging a double-double thus far for the Falcons.
Guard James Borque is a three-year starter. He is a “great athlete, our glue guy who holds the others accountable. A really great leader,” Dailey said.
The other six captains are: guards Patrick Kilbride, Patrick Leverty, Sam Sweeney, Michael Lynch and Chris Carlucci and forward Rowan Keeser.
Ludlowe also beat Bassick, the preseason No. 4 team in the Register/GameTimeCT top 10 poll. The Falcons did drop their FCIAC opener Friday against Trumbull, a CIAC Division I state semifinalist last season.
“Trumbull took it to us. We got killed on the glass and played very little defense,” Dailey said. “Trumbull is very good and they shot the lights out. I’m confident the kids will use this loss as fuel moving forward.”
Put North Haven in to a similar category with Ludlowe: senior experience leads to a quick start of the season.
The Indians are 5-0 — already equaling last year’s win total.
“The nice thing is we brought back four starters (seniors) from last year. Experience helps,” fifth-year North Haven coach Justin Falcon said. “I think any team that has some success leads to confidence. But we also know there is a long way ahead of us.”
The Indians defeated Platt to win its own Christmas tournament for the second consecutive year. Last year, the team ended the season with eight straight losses and missed the postseason. That is a good enough reason to avoid looking ahead.
“We learn from that what to do to get better,” Falcon said.
North Haven battled Branford in a close game throughout Friday night. The Indians managed to escape with a 61-60 victory on the road.
Senior guard R.J. Hager has scored over 30 points twice this season. Dave Christoforo’s future is playing baseball at UConn but right now, he brings the rebounding North Haven will need in the rugged SCC — especially this week with games against Hamden and Sheehan.
Former Trinity Catholic star guard Torey Thomas had his number 00 retired last Friday at halftime of the Crusaders’ win over New Canaan.
Thomas, a point guard who went on to play at Holy Cross, finished with 1,041 points, 532 assists — still a school record — and 512 rebounds.
More importantly, Thomas finished with a 85-12 record, four appearances in a CIAC state final and two championships each in the FCIACs and states. He was the New Haven Register’s State Player of the Year for the 2002-03 season.
“It was the best decision I ever made to become the man I am today, was to come to Trinity Catholic. I really feel that from the bottom of my heart,” said Thomas, who commuted from White Plains, New York.
Thomas still plays overseas, currently for the Quimper-UJA team in France,
“He made it work because he wanted it, which is really the story of his entire career,” said Mike Walsh, his former head coach at Trinity Catholic.
First time for everything
There has been very little Ken Smith hasn’t experienced now in his 31st season as Windsor’s head coach. Flying to play games was one of those things.
Smith can now scratch that off his list. The Warriors flew to Ocala, Florida over the Christmas break to play in the Battle of the Villages Tournament.
The results didn’t go as planned for Windsor: the team lost all three games and finished last. But it’s the experience that will carry on further than the results.
“Every kid should experience something like this,” said Smith, 62. “The bonding part, what it’s all about. Wins or losses are now what defines you. I want to see how you come together, how you handle it.”
Smith said the school committed to playing in the tournament over the summer, then did the necessary fund-raising for the trip.
Windsor fell to three Florida teams: Calvary Christian (84-65), Seffner Christian Academy (86-74) and to Blanche Ely (73-56). Smith noted that all of those teams had begun practice more than a month before Connecticut does.
“The scores (all double-digit losses), were not indicative of how the games were played,” Smith said. “This will only make us better, real deal is how you test yourself, makes you get better quicker.”
Staff writer Dave Stewart contributed to this story.