By: Contributing PAL Parents and Players
While snow storms and school vacations conspired to sap momentum from several of the Westport PAL travel basketball teams as they completed their regular seasons, it is now FCBL playoff time. With the playoffs starting this Friday (3/1):
Can 5G complete an incredible first travel season undefeated?
Can 7B continue its incredible turn-around from bottom of the pack to top of the heap?
Can 8G repeat last season’s playoff championship?
How many Westport PAL teams can make it through the first playoff weekend to championship games next weekend (March 9 and 10)?
With school back in session and the playoffs upon us, throw out those regular season records and let’s play some elimination hoops.
Westport PAL 5G
The Westport PAL 5G girls completed an incredible undefeated regular season with their 18th consecutive victory in New Fairfield (24-13) on Saturday (2/16).
Following the winter school break, Coach Karen Puskas’ squad will practice twice this week before beginning its playoff push on Friday evening (3/1) in Weston against Shelton. Win or lose, 5G will play again on Saturday in a single elimination game. With a victory on Saturday, 5G would play again on Sunday – and a chance to move to a championship game next Sunday (3/10) in Danbury.
Westport PAL 5B
After a seven game winning streak was ended earlier in February, the Westport PAL 5B boys completed the regular season with three consecutive road games, winning one and losing two for a final regular season record of 15 wins and 7 losses.
Coach Charles Connor’s squad headed into the school break with a tough loss to the Darien YMCA Blue (31-33). Following the break, 5B lost a second consecutive close game, this time to Ridgefield (55-60); however, 5B ended the regular season on a high note by defeating the Greenwich Flame (47-38).
5B secured a first round playoff bye and will play the winner of the Fairfield PAL Celtics and Weston Gold on Saturday (3/2) in Easton. With a victory, 5B would play again on Sunday at Chelsea Piers-Stamford – and a chance to move to a championship game next Saturday (3/9) in Darien.
Westport PAL 6G
As a result of cancellations due to the snow storm, along with the school vacation break, the Westport PAL 6G girls have played just one game in the last three weeks – a final regular season loss to Wilton (18-31) on Wednesday (2/13). Coach Johanna McNelis and Assistant Andy Lipman are looking to shake out the cobwebs this week in advance of this weekend’s playoffs.
6G begins its playoff run on Friday evening (3/1) in Stamford against the Stamford YMCA. With a victory, 6G would play again on Sunday in Darien – and a chance to move to a championship game next Sunday (3/10) in Ridgefield.
Westport PAL 6B
Coach Shuan Malone and the Westport PAL 6B boys have experienced the thrill of victory (a five game winning streak through early February) and the agony of defeat (a recent three game losing streak) to end the FCBL A East division regular season at 11 victories and 7 defeats.
6B hopes that the school break, short memories and a week of playoff preparations will have the squad poised to make a playoff run. 6B’s playoffs start Saturday (3/2) against St. Marks-Stratford at St. Joseph’s High School in Trumbull. With a victory on Saturday, 6B would play again on Sunday in Weston – and a chance to move to a championship game next Saturday (3/9) in Darien.
Westport PAL 7G
With a rare mid-season break, along with snow storm cancellations and the winter school break, the Westport PAL 7G girls played just three games in February. Unfortunately, three close defeats to Trumbull Travel (33-39), Wilton White (39-41) and Norwalk Black (36-39) pushed 7G back in the FCBL A division and a regular season record of 9 wins and 8 losses.
Coach Chris Scholz is among the most experienced PAL coaches and, with a week of practices, 7G hopes for a successful playoff run. 7G’s playoffs start on Saturday (3/2) in Danbury against Bethel. With a victory on Saturday, 7G would play again on Sunday in Newtown – and a chance to move to a championship game next Sunday (3/10) in Danbury.
Westport PAL 7B
In the category of “feel good team of the year”, the Westport PAL 7B boys are the runaway winners. After losing its first eight games of the season, 7B finished the regular season on an incredible nine game winning streak that catapulted the squad all the way to first place in the FCBL B Jim Callahan division (12 victories and 10 losses, including 10 wins and 2 losses in division).
7B’s eighth and ninth consecutive victories, over Weston Gold (32-23) and Monroe 7B (42.-17), preceded the winter school break. Coaches Vinnie Rissolo and Andrew Strauss have this week of practice to reignite the boys of 7B for a playoff dash.
7B receives a first round bye and will begin its playoffs on Saturday (3/2) in Stamford against the winner of Kings Kids-Bridgeport and Southbury. With a victory on Saturday, 7B would play again on Sunday at Chelsea Piers-Stamford – and a chance to move to a championship game next Sunday (3/10) in Westport.
Westport PAL 8G
The ladies of Westport PAL 8G have tended to play up or down to their competition during the season. That trend continued in 8G’s regular season finale as 8G again went outside of the FCBL B division to take on A division opponent Wilton. In a nip and tuck contest throughout, 8G was more consistent down the stretch and pulled out a satisfying victory (48-41), finishing the regular season with 15 victories, 5 defeats and 1 tie (including 5 victories and 4 defeats in division).
Coaches Sam DiLeo and Kasey Keegan will spend practice time this week getting 8G primed to make another deep playoff run. With a victory on Saturday, 8G would play again at St. Joseph’s on Sunday – with a chance to move to a championship game next Saturday (3/9) in Ridgefield.
Westport PAL 8B
Injuries, illnesses and inconsistency have plagued the Westport PAL 8B boys throughout a long and rugged regular season in the FCBL A division. Coach Glenn O’Neill’s squad wrapped up the regular season with two victories and two defeats, finishing at 12 victories and 13 defeats overall.
On Friday evening (2/15), 8B defeated Ridgefield (65-34). In the win, 8B was led by Justin Seideman (22 points, a rebound and a steal); however, contributions came from all, including Ben Casparius (9 points, 3 rebounds and 3 steals), Mack Muller (9 points, 2 rebounds and a steal), Ryan Fitton (5 points and 5 rebounds), Fritz Schemel (6 points on two three-point bombs), Jesse Levinson (4 points, 3 rebounds and 2 steals), Brendan Massoud (4 points, 2 rebounds and 2 steals), Josh Berman (4 points and 2 rebounds), Kenny Brill (2 points) and Matty Fair (2 rebounds).
On Sunday (2/17), with a limited squad of just five players and two road games, 8B defeated St. Mary’s Ridgefield (54-45) before falling to Norwalk (70-74). On Sunday (2/24), Ridgefield exacted revenge on its home floor and defeated a limited squad of just six 8B players (34-46).
With regular season records now thrown out, the potential return of talented forward Sean Pritchett following an ankle injury and a fresh playoff season ahead, 8B looks to start a winning streak this Saturday (3/2) in Weston against the winner of Friday evening’s game between the Waterbury Ballers and Norwalk Youth Green. With a victory on Saturday, 8B would play again on Sunday at St. Joseph’s High School in Trumbull – with a chance to move to a championship game next Saturday (3/9) in Weston.