Sizing up Friday night’s key contests

We all are guilty — fans, players and coaches, especially the media — of calling particular games the biggest one of the season.

Just to use FCIAC boys basketball as an example of what happens in every sport, at every level, every game counts the same 1/20th toward the standings and state seedings, league games 1/18th toward trying to qualify for the conference tournament.

The BIG game on the last day of the regular season is predicated on what happened in the 19 before it. December wins and losses carry the same weight as those in February.

Still, the perspective of sports comes from a prism focused on the present. And heading into Friday night’s slate of games, just two games separate the seven teams that are currently battling for the final three spots in the league tournament.

Five of Friday’s nine games have a direct bearing on the playoff picture, assuming the top three schools — Westhill, Trinity Catholic and St. Joseph — are secure in qualifying.

Here’s a look at the games to watch (all are 7 p.m. starts).


Ridgefield (10-3) at Bridgeport Central (9-3): I’ve heard a number of people write off the Tigers after they were picked apart in every way by Trinity Catholic on Tuesday night. I’m not one of them, though Ridgefield has demonstrated some flaws — lack of speed, the need for better point guard play, allowing top teams to dictate tempo — that need to be addressed. This is an opportunity for the Tigers to at least temporarily silence the skeptics on the road against a Central team that, despite inconsistent tendencies, I consider a viable championship contender.


Fairfield Ludlowe (6-7) at Bassick (8-6): Few gave the Falcons any chance of being within sniffing range of reaching the FCIAC Tournament, yet they sit just one game out of a spot. They are at matchup disadvantages on many nights, but have compensated by slowing down games and forcing opponents to play at a methodical pace. What to make of the Lions, the two-time defending champions and February darlings annually? They have lost three straight games, albeit to Ridgefield, Central and St. Joseph. They really need a win here badly.

Greenwich (7-7) at Westhill (12-1): People keep waiting for the Vikings to fall, but with their 32-minutes-of-hell trapping defense it has yet to happen. They are the paradigm of a team where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. The Cardinals are in the pack of teams trying to get into the league playoffs. It will be interesting to see if they look to pound the ball inside to center Alex Wolf, who could create matchup problems, if the Greenwich guards are able to get by the traps.

Norwalk (10-4) at New Canaan (5-8): Are the Bears a legitimate championship threat or just a very good team? They lack a true playmaker to make it easier to create chances for Roy Kane, Jabari Dear and company. New Canaan is actually closer to qualifying for a league than a state playoff spot.