1. Hearts on Fire
Plot Line: Sacred Heart has been the top team in the Register/GameTimeCT poll since the start of the season. The Hearts are the defending Class S state champions and returned all five starters from a year ago, including guard Mustapha Heron, who has already committed to Pittsburgh, and forward Malik Petteway.
You should know: Sacred Heart, and any other team, could have petitioned to play in the Class LL division. But the Hearts chose to remain in Class S.
2. Whale of a Time
Plot line: With Sacred Heart dominating almost every game, New London has flown under the radar during its undefeated season. Led by Colin Sawyer and Seth Lake, the Whalers beat Ledyard, its chief competition in the ECC, not once but twice, the latter for the ECC tournament title Friday.
You should know: New London won it seventh ECC title in the last eight seasons.
3. Kane Very Able
Plot line: UConn-bound Steve Enoch may have departed for prep school, but 6-foot-6 senior Roy Kane led Norwalk to a very successful season. The Bears are currently 17-6 and come off a run to the FCIAC Tournament final, losing to Westhill on Friday.
You should know: Norwalk hosts Shelton in its LL opener Monday night in what could be a high scoring affair.
4. Fire-Breathing Dragons
Plot line: Hamden handed Fairfield Prep its only regular-season loss this season. A balanced team behind Dylan Noble, Blair Johnson and C.J. Seaforth, the Green Dragons have plenty of offensive options and can pressure you defensively into mistakes. Middletown has put together a fine season behind junior guards Makai Hunter and Caylen Williams and senior guard Savon Williams. The Blue Dragons reached the CCC tournament semifinals before falling to Windsor in overtime.
You should know: Hamden has never reached a state final while Middletown hasn’t won a state tournament since 1994 — also its last appearance in a final.
5. Bulldogs run wild
Plot line: Crosby gave Sacred Heart its two best games to date, falling 73-66 during the regular season, then losing at the buzzer in the NVL Tournament final on a shot by Heron. Another set of Bulldogs — Bunnell — split with Crosby during the regular season and won its third straight South-West Conference title. Both like to push the ball on offense and will apply full-court pressure on defense. Neither team is one you would like to see in your bracket.
You should know: Bunnell is not only seeking its third straight appearance in a state semi, but its first appearance in a state final.
6. Third time the charm?
Plot line: Weaver successfully defended its CCC title, beating Windsor in the final on Thursday. KeAndre Fair, Chaslyn Martin & Co. are determined to get back to the Class M state final. The Beavers lost to CCC rival East Catholic last season at the Mohegan Sun Arena and fell to Granby in the 2013 Class S final.
You should know:
Weaver beat East Catholic in all three matchups this season. They could square off for a fourth time in the state semifinals.
7. Weekend Warriors
Plot line: Valley Regional won its second Shoreline Conference title in the past three years. Last year, the Warriors didn’t even reach the final but managed to reach its third state final in the past four years, falling to heavy favorite Sacred Heart. This year, Valley is the No. 6 seed in Class S.
You should know: The Warriors won their other two appearances in a state final, beating Classical Magnet in 2011 (Class S) and Weston in 2013 (M).
8. On Path to Career Success
Plot line: Speaking of state finals appearances, Career has been at the Mohegan in three of the past four seasons. The Panthers are led by guards Tyreek Perkins and Tyrell Eaddy, along with forward Justin Campbell. Career is coming off beating Shelton, West Haven, Hillhouse and defending champion Fairfield Prep in succession to win its third SCC championship.
You should know: Career’s one state championship came in 2012 when it defeated Northwest Catholic 51-49.
9. Kelly’s Heroes
Plot line: The Jesuits lost Paschal Chukwu, the Register State Player of the Year last season, and guard Keith Pettway to graduation off a SCC championship and a run to the Class LL state final. You knew Tommy Nolan and Ryan Foley would provide offense for the Jesuits this season, but the addition of another guard, Rich Kelly, a Shelton resident who transferred in from Montverde Academy in Montverde, Florida, has helped keep the Jesuits among the elite teams by averaging in double digits as well.
You should know: Fairfield Prep has reached the Class LL state final in three of the last four years, but lost all three championship games at Mohegan.
10. Public Eye
Plot line: Hartford Public made its way into the top 10 in January and carried an undefeated record into February. Losing at Windsor and to Weaver were justifiable, but losing in the opening round of the CCC tournament to South Windsor at home wasn’t good and led to a long layoff before its Class LL playoff opener today.
You should know: Remember Marcus Camby? The former NBA standout led the Owls to the 1993 Class LL state championship and was named the Gatorade State Player of the Year.
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