After three seasons as a precocious looking shooting guard who was part of an ensemble, Trinity Catholic guard Schadrac Casimir has a warning for the rest of the FCIAC: “I can’t be the quiet, cute kid anymore.”
As the Crusaders’ only returning full-time starter, Casimir knows he has to step up and play a more prominent role this year for the team to maintain its success.
And if the first week of the season is any indication, Casimir is more than up to the task. After scoring 26 points in an opening-night win over Bridgeport Central, Casimir erupted for 50 points in Friday’s double overtime win over Greenwich. Casimir hit 3-point shots to force both overtime periods.
Fittingly, Casimir’s performance came in front of some of the luminaries from Trinity’s past: former UConn players Rashamel Jones and Craig Austrie, guard Torey Thomas, who played at Holy Cross and now professionally overseas, and John Smyth, who is an assistant coach and almost saw his school-record of 51 points in a game expunged.
“I’ve seen a lot of great performances and that certainly ranks with the best,” Trinity coach Mike Walsh said. “We need Schadr
ac to play his A game every game for us to be successful.”
Casimir said he is coming off an AAU season in which he scored 53 points in one game and 45 in another.
Of the win over Greenwich, Casimir said, “I was just open and my teammates got me the ball.”
But Walsh said there was a lot more to the performance.
“As John Smyth said, it was a quiet 50, if you can believe that,” Walsh said. “They played a box and one. Every shot was contested. He had a hand in his face. He was unselfish too. A couple of times he gave the ball up when I wish he hadn’t.”
It still is difficult this early to get a read on the Crusaders. Their fortunes may lie less on Casimir, a given, and more on his supporting cast stepping up and making significant contributions. They have to adjust to the loss of two starters who transferred: Paschal Chukwu and Jason Boswell.
However, in a season in which the top of the league is down from years past, and greater parity, Trinity has the pieces to remain a contender.
“It was a good way to start the season,” Casimir said. “Everyone thought we would lose to Central. It was a good confidence builder.”
A good start for St. Joseph
Ridgefield by most accounts was the FCIAC preseason favorite, in large part because it has one of the strongest returning casts. In contrast, defending Class LL champion St. Joseph was expected to take a step back after losing the heart of its starting lineup and, just as importantly, Vito Montelli, the only coach in school history.
In an opening game many think could be a preview of the FCIAC championship game, St. Joseph traveled to one of the league’s toughest gyms and came away with a 48-42 win over the Tigers in a rematch of last year’s state quarterfinal game.
Four Cadets scored between 7 and 11 points. Quincy McKnight, who finished with 10, is being counted on to take a starring role this year, but there is some hidden talent expected to emerge. One of the players being hyped is Raekwon Reid.
In the grand scheme of things, the outcome means little in the long run, but it would have been a nice confidence builder for the Tigers, who got a 26-point effort out of Kurt Steidl but little from anyone else. The biggest question for the team is can it effectively replace graduated point guard Seth von Kuhn.
The Starting 5
1. ST. JOSEPH (2-0): The Cadets’ win over Ridgefield means they are the top team in the FCIAC until proven otherwise.
2. RIDGEFIELD (0-1): It would have been nice if the Tigers could have opened the year winning a big game, but don’t read too much into the loss just yet.
3. TRINITY CATHOLIC (2-0): Here is where it starts getting tricky. After the first two teams it is almost impossible to order the next four or five at this point. We will go with the Crusaders based on the quality of competition it beat and their ability to win two close games.
4. NORWALK (2-0): These Bears won’t be hibernating this winter. Roy Kane Jr. is ready to make the leap into one of the league’s most dominant players.
5. STAPLES (1-0): You could easily plug in Bassick or Central into this spot. For now we will go with the Wreckers, who will play fundamentally sound ball all season and have a go-to star in Peter Rankowitz.
(Special thanks to Steph Hausman, a graphic designer for Westhill High School’s student newspaper, The Westword, for designing the new Second-Chance Points logo)