1. The FCIAC Invitational
Plot line: Ten FCIAC teams make up the 32-team CIAC Class LL field. Of those 10, three, Stamford, Fairfield Warde and Wilton, all were in the GameTimeCT.com/Register top 10 Poll. However, Ridgefield, a team that could never quite crack the Top 10, won the conference. A finish like that one personified how wide open the conference was this season. With the aforementioned competitors making up an already strong field, Greenwich, which boasts highly recruited 6-foot-3 forward Abbie Wolf, lost in the FCIAC final by a point. An FCIAC team could be cutting the nets at Mohegan when all is said and done.
You should know:Y It has been 11 years since an FCIAC team played in the Class LL final. Fairfield, which lost to Windsor 53-38 in 2004, was the last FCIAC team to do it. The last time an FCIAC team won Class LL was in 2000 when Norwalk defeated Norwich Free Academy 47-45.
2. No Mercy?
Plot line: The Tigers ran through their regular-season Southern Connecticut Conference schedule, finishing the season 19-0 against conference foes. The Tigers lone loss was to Capital Prep. Mercy proceeded to run through the SCC tournament before finding itself in a dog fight with Hand. The Tigers eventually won 57-52, and has won 25 straight games against SCC teams. However, does the Tigers dominance just highlight that the SCC was down this year? Does its tightly contested contest with Hand show the Tigers are beatable? Mercy’s side of the bracket may not post too many challenges, and with no Lauralton Hall hell-bent on revenge, Mercy could end up back in the title game again.
You should know: In the past 10 years, Mercy has been the Class LL Final five times, only winning once in 2013, much to the chagrin of the Crusaders who eventually got their revenge in 2014.
3. Capital Prep and everyone else.
Plot line: Class L’s field got a whole lot smaller when Capital Prep decided to stay in the Division. With a chance to move up to Class LL due to its success, the Tralblazers instead stayed in Class L and since Capital Prep only played 19 games, the best team in Connecticut is the No. 4 seed in Class L. Not only does that take some steam away from what had the makings of an entertaining tourney throughout, Farmington, the one-seed, and Hand, the five-seed, are all in the top half of the bracket, meaning they’ll all have a chance to play before the final. Hand, Farmington and Capital Prep are arguably the best three teams the Class has to offer, but only one will make it to Mohegan.
You should know: If Capital Prep wins Class L, it’ll be the first team to repeat in the Class since Hillhouse did it in 2011. Also, the Trailblazers will be the first team to three-peat, winning at least one of the titles in a different class, since Southington way back in 1994 before anyone on Capital Prep was born yet. The Knights won back-to-back titles in Class LL and won the last in Class.
4. Seriously, does anyone really have a shot in Class L?
Plot line: Farimington seemed fairly confident it could play with Capital Prep. All-State forward Sophie Borg and All-State guard Cheray Saunders were joined by Taft-transfer Hannah Friend, who committed to Delaware, and went onto capture the Central Connecticut Conference for the first time in school history. The Indians also went undefeated, as the only perfect team in Class L and one of just two perfect teams in the state, Morgan is the other one. And what about Hand? The Tigers almost upset Mercy in the SCC Final. When hot from the outside, guards Cori Ouelllete and Paula Materin can fill it up. GeGe Catalano is good for a double-double a night with rebounds and points and Gabby Martin at point guard is well on her way to being one of the best players in the state, not just the SCC. Maybe the field isn’t so closed after all. Then again, maybe it is.
You should know: Farmington has achieved Class L success, winning the state title in 2013.
5. Morgan will never lose
Plot line: Okay, maybe never is strong word, but the Huskies seem to work their way out of every jam they get themselves into. That being said, the Huskies haven’t been in many jams, routing conference foes by an average of 35 points per game. That average would have been even higher had it not been for a pair of three-point victories over Cromwell. In the Shoreline Conference final, Morgan coughed up a five-point lead with about a minute and a half left only to rebound and defeat the Panthers by a point. So the Huskies rout SLC teams, not a big deal, right? Actually it is. As the No. 1 seed, Morgan could face SLC teams in the second round (No. 16 Coginchaug), quarterfinals (No. 9 East Hampton) and semifinals (No. 4 Cromwell). They may never lose.
You should know: Morgan has not lost since falling in the Class M Final last season, dropping the contest to New London 57-52.
6. Is New London good enough to repeat?
Plot line: Losing to a team in a higher class that plays in the same conference doesn’t necessarily mean a team is not good enough to win its class. However, New London, which won last year’s Class M title, has looked shaky in losses to Class L, but Eastern Connecticut Conferen foe, Norwich Free Academy. The Wildcats defeated the Whalers by 11 in the regualr season and topped New London again in the ECC Final. New London also lost to Class M contender St. Joseph. Coming into the tournament as the No. 3 seed, the Whalers will need to get through the No. 11 Cadets and No. 2 NVL runner-up Holy Cross.
You should know: The Whalers only had three seniors on its 2014 title winning team.
7. Catholic Schools run Class S
Plot line: Typically Class S is for the small public schools. The schools that have all the heart and talent, but not a high number of talented players coming in from other towns. This season that could change. St. Paul, which lost in last year’s title game in double-overtime to Thomaston, is the two-seed and has all the talent to return to the Sun. Meanwhile, Notre Dame has 2013 All-State center Taylor Ceballos, who transferred in from Foran. The Lancers have been hitting their stride at the right time, in spite of a South-West Conference loss to New Fairfield. The Lancers are also the No. 5 team in Class S, so if Notre Dame can oust top seeds Bolton, which is No. 4 and top-seeded Canton if they play, maybe they can get to the Sun, too.
You should know: The last time two Catholic Schools played in the Class S final was 2007 when rivals Kolbe-Cathedral and the Lancers did battle. the Cougars won 67-57.
8. So what about Thomaston?
Plot line: Thomaston has ended its season at Mohegan in eahc of the last two seasons. The Golden Bears fell to Capital Prep in 2013, then edged St. Paul last season. Coming in as the three-seed, the Golden Bears could face St. Paul in the semifinals with a chance to return to the Class S final for the third straight season, looking for back-to-back titles. Thomaston also won the Berkshire League again, carrying a good amount of momentum into states.
You should know: Thomaston became the first team to lose a state title by double-digits the previous season and then win the state crown the next season since Capital Prep in 2013 when it routed Thomaston.
9. Just want to be successful?
Plot line: The success rule, which determines which schools of choice get moved up to the large school class could move some teams up if they have strong postseasons. St. Paul could be on the move in Class S. St. Bernard, also in Class S, went to the quarterfinals last season, another strong showing this season and it could be moving upwards as well. In Class M, Holy Cross and St. Joseph went to the quarterfinals last season. The rule could push those schools up into Class L if they continue to prosper in the smaller enrollment divisions.
You should know: Weaver was in Class M in 2013, and has since played up in Class L, losing in the final last year.
10. Who’s the best?
Plot line: The CIAC tournament doesn’t just provide teams the chance to win a state crown, but also players an opportunity to be seen on a statewide platform. From Trumbull’s Amanda Pfohl to Cromwell’s Mya Villard, there are tons of players who have not been grabbing headlines, but could make a name for themselves during states.
You should know: Log onto www.GameTimeCT.com and comment on who think will have the biggest impact for their teams this postseason.
2015 CIAC Girls Basketball Tournament
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- The 5 Most Important Players in the CIAC Tournament: Kiah Gillespie’s on the list, but you knew that already.
- Everything You Need To Know About the CIAC Tournament: So Larry Bird walks into a locker room…
- GameTimeCT.com/Register Top 10: A couple new teams join in!
- Success?: Coaches not too happy with CIAC Tournament Success Rule.
- Big Turnaround: Gilbert came a long way. Find out where it ended up.
- 2015 Conference Tournament Recap