Here is an idea: Find a high school gymnasium somewhere in the middle of the state, invite the top four teams in the GameTimeCT Girls Basketball Poll including their coaches and trainers, nine officials to work 3 games, a scoreboard operator and someone to do the scorebook.
Nobody else. Then roll the ball out and decide on the court who is the No. 1 team in Connecticut.
Semifinals are No. 1 NFA vs No. 4 Newington and No. 2 Notre Dame-Fairfield vs No. 3 Ridgefield. Championship to follow.
Sounds great, right?
Unfortunately, it’s not going to happen. But it’s fun to dream.
The four teams all deserve it. Each has a legitimate case to be made for why they are No. 1.
But after the votes were cast and counted, it is NFA finishing the 2021 season as the No. 1 team in the GameTimeCT Girls Basketball Poll.
The Wildcats (13-0) picked up 10 first-place votes and 490 total points to claim the top spot after a convincing run through the ECC tournament, culminating in a 57-33 win in the final over Waterford.
The closest game the Wildcats played all season was a 57-46 win over Fitch in the ECC semifinals. They won nine games by more than 20 points.
To say they dominated the ECC would be an understatement.
“It means a lot to the program,” NFA coach Courtney Gomez told the GameDayCT broadcast when asked what it would mean to be voted No. 1. “It’s obviously a different year. We’ve done well in the ECC, we’re ECC champs and that means a lot. I’d love to play in a state tournament, but that’s not going to happen. … I think these girls played this year to earn that No. 1 rating and, even though it might be a little bit different if you played different competition, I don’t want it to take away from what they accomplished this year.”
No. 2 Notre Dame’s (12-1) lone loss this year came without any varsity players in uniform due to a violation of school protocols. The Lancers got three first-place votes and 470 points.
To make their case as the No. 1 team, the Lancers dismantled the competition in the SWC tournament, winning by an average of 22 points, including a 30-point win in the SWC championship game for the second year in-a-row.
“In a year like this, knowing you’re not going to play for a state championship, they could have gone through the motions this year and not cared, but these girls came to work every single day,” Notre Dame coach Maria Conlon said. “I am extremely proud to be their coach and be a part of this program.”
No. 3 Ridgefield (16-0) scored more than 60 points seven times and held seven opponents under 30 and three under 20, playing arguably the toughest schedule of the top 4.
The Tigers twice beat No. 7 Trumbull, including in the FCIAC championship game and also beat then-ranked teams Danbury and Staples during the regular season. Ridgefield picked up four first-place votes and 462 points.
Ridgefield won the FCIAC tournament playing its final two games without All-FCIAC guard Katie Flynn, who was out with an illness.
“That’s up to you guys to decide,” Ridgefield coach Rob Coloney said when asked if his team was No. 1. “They are number one in my heart, that’s for sure.”
Newington (15-0) did not pick up any first-place votes, but the run the team made through the CCC this season puts it directly in the No. 1 conversation.
They won their CCC tournament games by an average of 16.3 points.
During the regular season, the only team to finish within 10 points of them was then-No. 10 ranked Middletown, which took the game to overtime before Newington prevailed 48-44.
In this unusual season, there were more unbeaten teams than in previous years.
Along with the three unbeatens among the top four, No. 10 Thomaston (15-0), East Hampton (15-0), Holy Cross (14-0), Parish Hill (13-0) and Killingly (13-0) did not lose.
The Final 2021 GameTimeCT Girls Basketball Poll
|TEAM (1st place votes)|
|1. NFA (10)||13-0||490||1|
|Final result: Def. Waterford 57-33 in ECC Championship.
Bottom Line: The Wildcats dominated the ECC start-to-finish with the dynamic backcourt of Jenissa Verela and Sarah Ericson.
|2. NOTRE DAME-FAIRFIELD (3)||12-1||470||2|
|Final result: Def. Pomperaug 57-27 in SWC Championship.
Bottom Line: For the second-straight season the Lancers won the SWC title game by 30 points.
|3. RIDGEFIELD (4)||16-0||462||3|
|Final result: Def. Trumbull 46-43 in FCIAC Championship.
Bottom Line: The Tigers won back-to-back FCIAC titles despite playing without Katie Flynn in semifinals or final.
|Final result: Def. Windsor 52-40 in CCC D-1 Championship.
Bottom Line: Double-digit wins in every tournament game nicely capped an unbeaten CCC season.
|5. SACRED HEART ACADEMY||14-1||287||NR|
| Final result: Def. West Haven 55-39 in SCC D-II Championship.
Bottom Line: The Sharks would have felt right at home in the SCC D-I tournament. They won every game in D-II by at least 15 points, closing the year with 11-straight victories -- including wins over both SCC D-I finalists.
| Final result: Def. Wilbur Cross 55-52 in SCC D-I Championship.
Bottom Line: The Green Dragons won the SCC for the third-straight season behind big tournament from Diamond White.
|Final results: Lost to Ridgefield 46-43 in FCIAC Championship.
Bottom Line: The Eagles lost three games this season, two to No. 3 Ridgefield and other to Staples.
| Final result: Def. Wethersfield 55-21 in CCC D-II Championship.
Bottom Line: Took out their frustrations on missing a spot in the championship bracket thanks to a tiebreaker by rolling through CCC D-II, winning by an average of 21 points a game.
| Final result: Lost to Hamden 51-41 in SCC semifinals.
Bottom Line: Not the ending the Titans had hoped for as a talented senior class leaves without an SCC title.
| Final results: Def. Nonnewaug 57-42 in Berkshire League Championship
Bottom Line: The Bears completed their first undefeated season, winning the Berkshire for the first time since 2017.
|Dropped out: East Hartford (5), Hand (7), Staples (9), Kolbe Cathedral (10).
First-place votes in parentheses and points tabulated on a 30-28-26-24-22-20-18-16-14-12-11-10-9-8-7 basis.
|Others receiving votes: Hand (12-2), 149; Holy Cross (14-0), 142; Staples (11-3), 119; East Hampton (15-0), 112; East Hartford (10-2), 112; Suffield (14-1), 93; Pomperaug (13-2), 87; Windsor (12-2), 79; EO Smith (10-2), 45; Seymour (13-1), 41; Parish Hill (13-0), 36; Killingly (13-0), 22; Kolbe Cathedral (11-2), 16; Middletown (11-3), 14; Southington (11-3), 10; Simsbury (12-2), 8; Danbury (9-5), 8; Bacon Academy (6-2), 7; Windsor Locks (12-3), 7.|
|The following voted: Lori Riley, Hartford Courant; Mike Madera, Walter Camp Foundation/New Haven Register; Vickie Fulkerson, The New London Day; Dave Phillips, Shoreline Newspapers; Dave Ruden, The Ruden Report; Jimmy Zanor, Norwich Bulletin; Tim Jensen, Patch; Brian Medeiros, Canton; Fred Williams, Northwestern; Rick Wilson, Waterbury Republican American; Sean Krofssik, Record-Journal; Matt Hornick, Bristol Press; Rich Zalusky, The Chronicle; Dave Danko, Fairfield Warde; Adam Betz, Journal Inquirer; Scotty Nails RCDS; Scott Ericson, GameTimeCT.
Poll compiled by Scott Ericson