The basketball season finally resumes and so does Southern Connecticut Conference divisional play.
One of the state’s toughest conferences boasts talented players like Career’s Tanaya Atkinson, and talented teams like Mercy.
Here are some of the top stories from interdivisional play and some things to look for during divisional play.
The best of interdivisional play
Mercy mercy me
To most girls basketball observers in the state Mercy will always be good. Regardless of the reason behind it — Tim Kohs is the best coach in the state, they’re a private school and have access to a much deeper talent poll, whatever — the Tigers are yet again the top team in the SCC.
Mercy ran through interdivisional play, stands at 7-0, and is the No. 1 ranked team in Class LL, just one win shy of a state playoff spot. The Tigers have also won all seven of their games by double digits. Mercy is currently the top team in the area in scoring differential, with an average of 32.3.
The Tigers are second in the area in scoring, dropping 61.5 points per game, second only to Career’s 68.5. Mercy is also getting it done defensively, giving up an area-best 29.2 points per game.
Maura Fitzpatrick has proven that she is as good as advertised, scoring 15.8 points per game. Sarah Gallo is chipping in with 12.7 points per game.
Ceballos out for the season
The only freshman to make last season’s New Haven Register All-Area team, Foran’s Taylor Ceballos will miss the rest of the season and playoffs. The center, who also made the All-State team last season, will miss the remainder of the season due to a surgery she had over the summer.
Ceballos tried to play through the pain and averaged 10.8 points per game, but her family and the athletic program decided it was best the star sophomore sit out. Ceballos averaged a double-double last season with 15.3 points and 14.2 rebounds per game.
She had 17 double-doubles last season and six games with 20 or more rebounds. Foran is 3-4 and 0-2 in her absence.
Johnson goes off
Jill Johnson scored a career-high and school record 40 points in a 61-50 Dec. 20 loss to Hand. Johnson tore two ligaments in her ankle and bruised the bone late last season, but she’s come back strong this season and is one of the area’s top scorers.
Johnson performed well at the start of last season, nailing a buzzer-beater in a win over Guilford before going down with the injury. This season, the junior guard has improved her perimeter shot and passing and has her team at 4-2. Johnson is averaging 20.8 points per game.
Have to Hand it to you
Hand may have given up 40 points to Johnson, but in a game against a sharp-shooting Lyman Hall team that is averaging 57 points per game, the Tigers held the Trojans to just 48 points and only one 3-pointer in a 55-48 overtime victory. Hand currently is scoring 55 points per game and giving up 55 points per game. However, Dec. 19, the 4-3 Tigers defense did just enough to stop Nicole and Taylor Mierzejewski and Krista Peterson.
What to look for in divisional play
Career transfer Brooklin Davis had to sit out 10 games per CIAC transfer rules and will return on Jan. 21 in against Guilford. However, her first SCC Oronoque game will be against her former school North Haven on Jan. 31. Davis said she left the school after dealing with bullying in her sophomore year, now a junior she will take on Johnson and the Indians wearing Career purple and gold.
The Housatonic Division could be the most competitive division in the SCC this season. Lyman Hall, Cheshire and Amity probably can’t beat the Quinnipiac division’s Mercy or the Oronoque division’s Career, but the Housy will be fun to watch. Amity and Cheshire face each other Friday at 7. Meanwhile Lyman Hall (6-1) topped Cheshire (6-2) Saturday and will battle Amity on Jan. 17.
Hammonasset up for grabs
Foran went into the season as the best team in the Hammonasset division. With Assumption College bound point guard Teneya McLaughlin and Ceballos, the Lions seemed poised to not only take the division, but also compete for the conference.
However, Ceballos is down for the year and McLaughlin missed two game with a swollen knee. McLaughlin was always the leader of the team and now she’ll have to shoulder the bulk of the scoring load from the point guard position.
While Foran tries to figure things out, Hand (4-3), Guilford (3-3), Law (3-4) and Hillhouse (2-4) all have a legitimate shot at stealing the division away.
Can anyone beat Mercy?
No. No they cannot. Mercy has not lost a division game since the 2006-07 season and that most likely will not change this season. Quinnipiac division foes Sacred Heart Academy (2-4), Hamden (1-6) and West Haven (0-7), all of which have new coaches, challenge the defending Class LL champion Tigers.
Contact Henry Chisholm at email@example.com. Follow Henry on Twitter