Tonight we’ll crown a pair of league champions, with the FCIAC and SWC boys basketball finals tipping off a few miles apart in Fairfield and Stratford.
In the FCIAC Trinity Catholic meets Central at 7 at Fairfield Warde, while Bunnell and Bethel play for the SWC crown on the Bulldogs’ homecourt in Stratford at 7:30.
Below are my capsules that ran in Thursday’s print editions, so I’ll stick with what I wrote there.
Feel free to offer your opinion on the games or vote in the polls. Both should be good games. Shame they’re being played up against each other.
No. 2 Trinity Catholic (21-1) vs. No. 4 Central (18-4)
WHAT: FCIAC boys basketball final
WHEN: Thursday, 7; WHERE: Fairfield Warde
ROAD TO FINAL: Trinity Catholic beat No. 7 Norwalk 71-52; beat No. 6 Wilton 62-47; Central beat No. 5 Ridgefield 72-56; beat No. 1 St. Joseph 70-67
PLAYERS TO WATCH: TC: Sr. 5-10 G Schadrac Casimir; Sr. 6-4 F Brandon Wheeler; Jr. 6-2 G Tremane Frasier; C: Jr. 5-7 G Tyler Ancrum; Jr. 6-3 F ShaQuan Bretoux; Soph. 6-2 F Marcus Blackwell.
SKINNY: Trinity Catholic won on Dec. 12 66-64 in Stamford — the season opener for both teams. … Central won its lone FCIAC title in 2010. … The Crusaders have won the league six times, most recently in 2008. … Trinity has won 13 straight. … Central has won seven straight games in the span of 12 days. Thursday’ final will be the Hilltoppers’ eighth games in two weeks. … Trinity Catholic is the No. 1 seed in the Class L tournament, earning a first-round bye. … Central is the No. 10 seed in Class LL and will host No. 23 Bristol Central on Monday.
OUTLOOK: By the middle of the season pretty much everybody around the FCIAC figured the league’s championship game would be a showdown between Trinity Catholic and St. Joseph. Central had other ideas. The Hilltoppers may prove a more difficult matchup for the Crusaders considering all five players can score in the half court. It also helps that Tyler Ancrum has matured into the league best pass-and-shoot point guard. He can get his own shot on the perimeter or drive past anybody. It could mean Crusaders’ star Shadrac Casimir — the FCIAC MVP in most opinions — will have his hands full defensively. Casimir has done almost everything possible for the Crusaders this year, so stopping Ancrum — which in turn would stop the Hilltoppers — shouldn’t be out of the question. Ancrum won’t have to do it alone since ShaQuan Bretoux is scoring close to 20 points per game down the stretch, which means Brandon Wheeler, too, will have to put in extra work on the defensive end for Trinity. The overriding storyline here seems to be if Casimir will finish his standout FCIAC career with a title or if Central — a team without any seniors — takes a step forward and put its stamp on the league for the coming years. Trinity does have a knack for winning close games and Central does struggle from the foul line, but the Hilltoppers appear to be a team on one of those proverbial “magic carpet rides,” peaking at the right time and showing no ill effects of playing so many games in a short amount of time.
THE PICK: Central 64, Trinity Catholic 59
No. 1 Bunnell (20-2) vs. No. 2 Bethel (20-2)
WHAT: SWC boys basketball final
WHEN: Thursday, 7:30; WHERE: Bunnell High, Stratford
ROAD TO FINAL: Bunnell: beat No. 8 Newtown 54-47; beat No. 4 Kolbe Cathedral 80-52; Bethel beat No. 7 Weston 58-40; beat No. 3 ND-Fairfield 75-67.
SKINNY: Bunnell won the regular season game 77-58 on Jan. 15. … The Bulldogs have won 11 straight. … Bunnell won its lone SWC title in 2009. … Bunnell is the No. 3 seed in the Class L tournament and has a first-round bye. … Bethel has won seven straight. … The Wildcats are the No. 3 seed in Class M and host No. 30 Vinal Tech in Monday’s first round. … Garvin will play at Bryant. … This is Bethel’s first trip to the SWC championship game.
OUTLOOK: The SWC final should prove a study in if two heads are indeed better than one. Garvin has arguably been the league’s best player throughout the season and a threat for 30 points on any given night. Bunnell, meanwhile, in Nolting and Vann, have two players averaging 20 points. The top-seeded Bulldogs shook off their narrow quarterfinal win over Newtown with a rout of Kolbe in the semifinals. Playing on their homecourt in front of what figures to be an amped up student section should play into the Bulldogs hands, as they have the habit of scoring points in bunches. Bethel knows this is the school’s best shot to cut down the SWC nets with Garvin’s standout career — along with those of five other seniors — coming to an end. Will that drive be enough to offset Bunnell’s depth and homecourt advantage?
THE PICK: Bunnell 76, Bethel 65