The FCIAC Tournament resumes Tuesday night with a pair of intriguing games between the league’s three best teams and this year’s Cinderella.
A week ago, the pick here was that Bridgeport Central would win the title. Then seeing the Hilltoppers facing the most difficult draw, I turned my attention to St. Joseph. Then contemplating it has the easiest draw of the three, I looked to Trinity Catholic.
You can make a case for all three schools. Wilton, in its first tournament appearance since 2000, certainly has a chance against Trinity Catholic, but it is hard to see the Warriors then coming back and winning against the St. Joseph-Central winner.
The quarterfinals were disappointing in terms of drama. Expect that to change Tuesday night. Here is a look at the two semifinals games, at Fairfield Warde.
Wilton (14-7) vs. Trinity Catholic (20-1), 6 p.m. The Warriors have gone 14-4 since an 0-3 start and have won nine of their last 11 games, riding a five-game winning streak since a 70-65 loss to the Crusaders three weeks ago. Eric Houska finished with 26 points in the Warriors’ semifinal win over Westhill, but on any given night the leader could be Weston Wilbur, Matt Shifrin, Max Maudsley, Olandi LeGrand, Chris Curtis….
In other words, Wilton needs a balanced effort, not to mention sharp 3-point shooting, its lifeblood. The Warriors are unspectacular but solid in almost every area, and coach Joel Geriak’s greatest attribute has probably been picking the right defense for the given opponent.
Geriak will have a difficult task because no one has stopped Schadrac Casimir, the FCIAC’s best player, yet. Right now he is playing on as high a level as any of the Crusaders’ other previous stars did for the school. Expect Casimir to face some box and one and other defenses to contain him. There could be some triangle and two, straight man to man, assorted zones.
The key player for Trinity could be Brandon Wheeler; Wilton will likely prioritize shutting down Casimir and Tremaine Fraiser. That gives Wheeler greater operating room against an undersized Wilton interior.
It has been four years since the Crusaders last won an FCIAC championship. The prospect of ending that streak seemed unlikely in early December. Not it is firmly within their reach.
Bridgeport Central (17-4) vs. St. Joseph (20-1), 7:45 p.m. The two teams’ first meeting ended with the Cadets holding on for an 85-81 win. Expect another high-energy battle.
The Cadets will have to slow down Tyler Ancrum, the dynamic point guard who is the catalyst for the Hilltoppers’ offense and is usually stopped only when he gets out of control. Ancrum has a nice arsenal of players to set up: ShaQuan Bretoux, Marcus Blackwell, Antoin Pettway.
Central’s defense was a dominant factor in the quarterfinal win over Ridgefield, but the Cadets are much more adept handling the ball. Quincy McKnight can control a game without scoring a point, but St. Joseph will need a good output from him in order to win. Jake Pelletier and Jon Dzurenda sometimes get overshadowed, but have had solid seasons.
It is still hard to believe that the Cadets have only won one FCIAC title, in 2000. They have the pieces but are going to have to put in hard work to get No. 2.