You could make the case that the Southern Connecticut Conference is the state’s most competitive conference.
The SCC sports the state’s top two teams– and three of the top 10. With that
as a backdrop, the SCC Tournament will kick off Saturday at Branford High School.
Top-seeded Hillhouse– the state’s No. 2 team– will lead the tournament when the Academics face off against Cheshire at 11 a.m. No. 4 ND-West Haven will follow against Amity at around 1 p.m.
No. 2 Fairfield Prep will meet seventh-seeded Career for the third straight year– this time in the quarters. The Panthers eliminated the Jesuits in the semis each of the last two years, but Prep has beaten Career twice– 73-57 on Jan. 8 in New Haven and 67-47 on Feb. 13 in Fairfield.
Third-seeded Wilbur Cross will duel Xavier in the final game Saturday. The Falcons pushed Cross to overtime in their first matchup on Jan. 8. Wilbur Cross held off Xavier 57-51 in their second meeting last Saturday.
Hillhouse has reached the SCC Finals four straight years, and the Academics are the favorite to make that five straight years. Hillhouse has only lost once– to Prep on Feb. 5– and play a stingy style of defense that generates baskets in transition.
The Jesuits are the only squad to beat the Academics this year and are also among the state’s quickest teams. Despite its No. 2 seed, Prep enters the SCC Tournament as the state’s No. 1 team having won 10 straight games.
Two of Wilbur Cross’ losses this year were to Hillhouse. Cross and Prep have not met this year, but they would in the tournament’s semis if each squad wins its respective tournament opener.
Oh, by the way, ND is making its first SCC quarterfinal appearance since 2010. The Green Knights were 14-5 this year, just one year removed from a 1-19 season.
ND-West Haven has not reached the SCC semis since 2002.
The tournament is a sprint– the champion will have to win three games in four days. The semifinals will be Monday at 6 and 7:45 p.m. at East Haven.
The SCC Final will be Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Quinnipiac’s TD Bank Sports Center.
Pat Pickens is the sports editor of the Fairfield Citizen, a Hearst Connecticut Newspaper. Follow him on Twitter here.