Staff writer Scott Ericson takes a look at this month’s CIAC girls basketball tournaments.
Overview: Girls basketball fans have been waiting for this tournament all season and with good reason.
The brackets are loaded with juicy potential matchups and all-state caliber players.
No. 1 seed Norwalk is the lone unbeaten team in the state. The Bears are joined at the top of draw by ECC D-1 champions New London, FCIAC rival Trumbull and SCC finalist Hamden as the 2, 3 and 4 seeds respectively.
That’s not all, SWC finalist No. 5 Newtown as well CCC championship game participant in No. 6 E.O. Smith.
Oh, and defending champion Mercy is lurking as the No. 9 seed, opening at home against No. 24 NFA.
With so many good teams up top, it will be tough for a double-digit seed to break through into the quarterfinals.
Seeded upsets on the horizon?: No. 21 Warde over No. 12 Wethersfield; In the second round, senior-led No. 11 Wilbur Cross gets past No. 6 E.O. Smith and No. 9 Mercy beats No. 8 East Hartford
The final four: No. 1 Norwalk, No. 4 Hamden, No. 2 New London, No. 11 Wilbur Cross
Overview: Class L is the only one with two defending state champions in the draw. No. 14 RHAM won Class L a season ago while No. 5 East Haven moved up to L this season after winning Class M in 2018. RHAM faces No. 19 Hand in the opening round in a rematch of last season’s semifinal.
No. 3 Bullard Havens gets a SCC opponent in No. 30 North Haven with the winner getting the RHAM/Hand victor.
No. 2 Windsor did not lose to an in-state opponent all season until falling to E.O. Smith in the CCC semifinals.
The bottom half of the bracket could open up for a talented No. 6 Pomperaug team coming out of the tough SWC.
Seeded upsets on the horizon?: No. 19 Hand over No. 14 RHAM; No. 22 Branford against No. 11 Watertown; In the second round, if seeds hold, No. 10 East Lyme, led by Megan Bauman, over No. 7 Suffield.
The final four: No. 1 Notre Dame-Fairfield, No. 5 East Haven, No. 10 East Lyme, No. 6 Pomperaug
Champion: East Haven
Overview: No. 2 Cromwell has played in four state title games the last eight years, winning twice. This year’s team certainly looks good enough to make another run to the Sun.
On the other hand, No. 1 Northwestern has not played in a state championship game since 2003 and has not won a title since winning its one and only in 1990.
There are nine conferences represented in Class M plus one independent in Capital Prep but it is the only class without a team from the FCIAC.
No. 3 Kolbe Cathedral has won six state titles since 2000 but none since 2010. The path to reaching the final this year will be treacherous with Bacon and Bethel looming in that part of the draw.
Seeded upsets on the horizon?: In the second round, No. 11 Bethel has caught fire and is tested coming out of the SWC and will beat No. 6 Bacon Academy; Also in the second round, No. 12 Holy Cross over No. 5 Stonington. Sorry, ECC. Second round, No. 13 Sheehan out of the SCC over No. 4 Sacred Heart.
The final four: No. 8 Berlin, No. 13 Sheehan, No. 2 Cromwell, No. 11 Bethel
Overview: Mike Walsh has coached plenty of boys state tournament games but this will be his first go-round on the girls side with No. 7 Trinity Catholic. What better introduction than facing a team that appeared in four-straight finals, winning two, from 2014-17 in No. 26 Thomaston.
No. 1 Canton is no stranger to playing at Mohegan Sun with Class S titles in 2016 and 17.
Defending Class S champions Coginchaug come in as the No. 13 seed and will host No. 20 Portland.
Runner-up SMSA is back and in a prime position as the No. 5 seed.
Seeded upsets on the horizon?: No. 19 East Granby over No. 14 Parish Hill; In the second round, Coginchaug over No. 4 East Hampton;
The final four: No. 1 Canton, No. 5 SMSA, No. 7 Trinity Catholic, No. 3 St. Paul
Champion: Trinity Catholic