Mercy High alumna Bianca Simmons is going overseas to continue her basketball career, signing with a club named Eisvogel USC Freiberg, in the Premier League in Germany.
She was a star at UMass Lowell, leading all Division II scorers in the country with a 28.2 points per game average. In her senior year, she was named the Northeast 10 Player of the Year, to the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association State Farm All-America first team and was a finalist in the WBCA Division II Player of the Year.
After graduating in 2013, she played at Indias de Mauaquez in Puerto Rico, averaging 16.5 points per game and was named to the all-league team. In her college career, she scored 1,919 points and set four school season records of 762 points, 28.2 point per game, 146 assists and 99 steals.
The no question the winner of this week’s Way To Go Award is Bianca Simmons.
Middletown High’s Brandon Simmons is a very good player. I saw him get 25 points against Maloney last Thursday and can do a lot of things. The Blue Dragons center, O’Brien Watson, is a raw talent, but at 6-8 has a world of potential. His slam-dunk at the end of the Maloney game which sealed the deal in the Dragons’ 55-52 win may have been the most exciting play I’ve seen this season.
Xavier’s Elijah Pemberton is the best player I’ve seen this year, but the Pemberton Injury Saga was borderline bizarre. Follow the bouncing ball.
On Monday, he went down in a heap and was helped off the court. After the game, everybody had long faces. X-rays, hospital visit, orthopedic doc. By Wednesday, Xavier coach Mike Kohs emailed that “it’s not serious” and he is “questionable” for Friday’s game.
On Thursday, I saw Pemberton with his buddy, Dario Highsmith, at the Middletown game. He was in a walking boot. I asked if he was going to play Friday. “No, I am going to miss two games,” he said.
Friday, he was in the stands at Xavier in his boot during the jayvee game. He told game official Kevin Kobelski he wasn’t playing. Before the game, Xavier coach Mike Kohs said he’s a “game-time decision.” Color me bewildered.
Kid came out, no boot, went through pre-game drills, was in the starting lineup and played the whole game. Kohs said that the kid was cleared to play days earlier and that the trainer just had to explain that to Pemberton, an explanation which apparently he bought just before game time.
Best part of the whole night was provided by Br. Tom Fahey, Xavier’s Director of Admissions who is at every game. You’ve heard the Xavier commercials on TV and radio. His is the stentorian voice in the background.
After the game, Br. Fahey said to me in that amazing voice of his: “You know why Pemberton played, don’t you?” I plead ignorance. “I blessed his leg.”
Works for me.
THINGS THAT ANNOY
1. The Miami Heat of the National Boring Association. LeBron James’ jersey says King James on the back. Please. Another guy — says Birdman on his back — has multi-colored tattoos all over his body. Guy looks like he was in a paint store explosion. Ridiculous.
2. A Catholic high school in Washington state, Eastside High in Sammamish. It fired its exemplary swim coach and vice-principal, Mark Zmuda, because he married his boyfriend. Same-sex marriage is legal there. He was then told he could keep his job if he got a divorce.
Uhhh, 60 percent of American Catholics support same-sex marriage (including this Catholic), 56 percent of the U.S. population does, and 40 percent of the US population lives in states in which same-sex marriage is legal. Not one of those states has fallen into the sea.
If the guy’s a good teacher, swim coach and vice-principal, why care about his personal life? Sigh.
3. A-Rod. Obvious reasons.
QUICK CITY HITS
MHS’ swim team is 3-1 and got a big win, 94-90, at Farmington last week … the Farmington vs. Middletown swim rivalry is a good one … both teams are always very good and Farmington coach Scott Ferrigno, former MHS coach George Baldwin and current coach Trevor Charles are great friends … it’s what high school sports should be.
There are several blue-chip swimmers on the team in Jack Doherty, Andrew Gilliland, Matt Dagenais, Michel Ciebielski and Marco Amleto … plus three terrific divers in Dan Kinney, Monica Marcello and Adam Gauthier … top-end swimmers/divers make it possible for a team to do well in state meets when only the best of the best compete … in dual meets, it’s depth that is important and MHS may be a bit short there.
Liam Barnes is a very good diver for Xavier, which is 1-3 and rebuilding … the Falcons got smoked by Glastonbury Friday, 105-79 … coach Chris Haines’ squad is smaller than usual, but he has some very good young swimmers who are a year or two away.
Xavier’s wrestling team (11-0 against in-state foes) is the real deal … Xavier’s Will Chowanec is very impressive … the kid looks like a cat — a lean muscular, big cat — and he appeared to toy with his opponent Wednesday at Xavier before recording the pin. The Falcons are ranked No. 2 in the state and went 4-0 at the Xavier duals Saturday.
Middletown wrestling is 5-6, but has been bedeviled by injuries … the Dragons are rounding into shape and won three of four matches at the Xavier duals Saturday, beating Pomperaug (43-31), Ridgefield (39-21) and Norwich Free Academy (58-18) … and losing to Greenwich (47-22). MHS and Xavier did not wrestle each other in the 10-team event.
MHS is led by Nate Roy, Jacob Grasis, Jamar Jones and Cody Carrillo. who is undefeated this season … former state and New England champion — and All-American — MHS alum Devon Carrillo is not wrestling at Wesleyan this winter.
Mercy keeps rolling along … the Tigers are 9-0 … make your Mohegan Sun reservations … the WCNXradio Internet broadcast of the Mercy vs. Sacred heart game Friday drew 2,398 listeners … the Middletown High girls are 5-3 following their impressive 20-point win over Plainville Saturday … MHS leads the CCC South at 4-0 and is home tonight with Bristol Central.
Fairfield Prep will be ranked No. 1 in the boys basketball poll due out tomorrow … Xavier (6-1) plays at Prep on Friday, the second of a tough three-game road trip for Xavier that includes Hand and Wilbur Cross.
Things are looking brighter at MHS now that the Dragons are 3-4 following the 61-50 win over Plainville Saturday … that win over 4-1 Maloney Thursday was a big one … MHS played that game without starter Antonio White (sprained ankle) but he played Saturday and got 10 points … maybe Br. Fahey paid him a visit?
Xavier’s ice hockey team got a big win 5-2 last week over previously undefeated Hamden … but got beat 5-1 by St. John’s of Shrewsbury, Mass. Saturday to fall to 3-4.
Vinal Tech’s boys team is 2-5, while the girls hoopsters are 1-4 with their win coming against Norwich Tech, 39-27, Friday.
KIDS IN COLLEGE
Mercy alums Amber Bepko averages 23 minutes and 8.6 points per game for the University of Hartford … Maria Weselyj averages 28 minutes and 9.8 ppg as a freshman for Southern Connecticut State … Maggie Schumann — who set the school record for tennis wins at Mercy — plays and is team captain at the University of Chicago and brother Max, a Xavier alum and star lineman, plays football at the same school.
THINGS THAT PLEASE
1. A set of parents struck up a conversation with me the other night. They talked about their two high school aged sons, both of whom play sports and both of whom are academically talented. The eldest goes to Xavier. Mom, dad and the kid love the place.
The second son goes to Middletown High. Mom, dad and the kid love the place. “The teachers are so good at Middletown,” said mom. “We couldn’t be happier with the academics and the sports.”
I’ve said it many times: no matter where you send your kid in this town, it’s tough to make a mistake.
2. Good game officials. You get Kevin Kobelski. Mike Infantino, Tim Vincent and
the others on the area board to officiate your basketball game, you’re in luck.
3. Fans who get it. I see MHS fans at Xavier/Mercy games, Xavier/Mercy fans at MHS games. All good stuff.
BY THE NUMBERS
The CIAC uses enrollments to determine in which class a team plays. It varies from sport to sport because the number of schools that have a given sport changes and the CIAC keeps the classes balanced. Classes are determined by the previous year’s Oct. 1 enrollment.
Some interesting numbers. In girls basketball, the break between Class L and LL is 634 girls. If a school has 634 or more, it’s Class LL, if it has 633 or fewer it’s Class L. Why important? Mercy has 638, so it’s Class LL by five kids. Middletown has 633, the ceiling for Class L. If one more girl showed up at MHS by the cutoff date, MHS would be LL this year.
In football, Class LL was 702 and up. Xavier, with 870 boys, is firmly in LL. Middletown, with 674 boys, fell just 28 short of playing in LL this past fall. In boys basketball, the LL cutoff is 685, which meant that MHS was just 11 boys from being in LL this winter.
Overall, MHS is the 39th largest (out of 178) high school in Connecticut. In terms of boy enrollment, Xavier is the 17th largest school in the state. The largest school? Danbury with 2,865 kids, then comes Greenwich (2,666), New Britain (2,556), Norwich Free Academy (2,260) and Glastonbury (2,231).
If you’re ever on Jeopardy and the category is CT School Enrollment, you can thank me.
AROUND THE AREA
The Cromwell boys hoopsters are 6-1, the girls are 8-1 … the beat goes on in Rosetown … the H-K boys are 3-3, the girls are 7-2 … the Portland boys are 2-4, the girls are in a character-building year at 1-9 … the Valley boys are 4-2 and girls are 1-6 … the Hale-Ray boys are 1-6 and the girls are 2-6 … the Coginchaug boys are 2-3 and the girls are 6-2 … the Rocky Hill/Middletown/RHAM hockey team is 0-4 … one of those years … the Haddam-Killingworth/Lyman Hall ice hockey team is 3-4 … the H-K swim results are not on the CIAC website, so we can’t tell you … it’s a secret.
The Walter Camp Foundation Football Player of the Year was Arkeel Newsome of Ansonia, the Hartford Courant Player of the Year was Southington quarterback Stephen Barmore and the Gatorade Player of the Year was MHS’ Dario Highsmith. No argument with any. All are tremendous players.
HALL OF FAME
The Middletown Sports Hall of Fame induction dinner at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Cromwell is just two and a half weeks away. Some 13 individuals and two teams will be inducted. Tickets are $50 and may be purchased through Johanna Bond at the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce on Main St.
The number is 860-347-6924 and the email is Johanna@middlesexchamber.com. Closing date for reservations is this Friday, Jan. 17.