If you like drama in your high school sports, this weekend was a good one for you.
In each of the boys basketball tournaments, a top-five seed lost. The No. 1 team in the state, St. Joseph, was picked off by the FCIAC tournament by an unassuming assassin, Bridgeport Central. The Cadets lost for the second straight year in the conference quarters.
In the SCC, top-seeded Hillhouse narrowly averted a similar fate to St. Joes, by holding off upstart No. 8 seed and rival Wilbur Cross 66-65 in overtime. The top-three seeds in the SCC, including No. 2 Fairfield Prep, advanced, but only won their games by an average of 6.5 points and No. 5 Amity fell by 12 to the 13-seed Lyman Hall.
The SWC Tournament opened up for ND-Fairfield, as the Lancers’ nemesis Kolbe Cathedral was knocked off by No. 7 Masuk. Two of ND’s four losses this year came against the Cougars, and now the tournament is wide open for the Lancers to get back to the SWC finals for the second straight year.
But let’s start where I was this weekend.
Prep’s boys basketball team is really starting to play as a team.
The Jesuits rolled through the first 15 or so games of their schedule, with the star senior Terry Tarpey carrying much of the load. Teams have adjusted to Tarpey’s ability and Prep’s countered with role players contributions.
For much of this stretch, it’s been freshman point guard Tommy Nolan and junior Tim Butala who’ve picked up the slack. But Butala got in foul trouble in the early going in Prep’s game with Xavier, picking up three calls against Jovan Santos-Knox in the first quarter. Cue Ben Sullivan, who frustrated Santos-Knox, grabbed 10 rebounds and even scored eight points.
“I’m not an offensive player,” Sullivan said after the game. “But I got my career high in points.”
For the full gamer on this, see my story here. Prep will play No. 3 Career in the conference semis for the second straight year. Jesuits were routed by the Panthers 65-44 at Quinnipiac a year ago.
Prep’s role players are making it extremely difficult to beat. Tarpey is still going to go off– he had 31 points, 18 rebounds, seven assists, six steals and three blocks on Saturday– but if Jesuits’ opponents can’t double him because guys like Sullivan or Ryan Blake (eight points on Saturday) are making layups, it frees the William & Mary bound guard to roam.
Tarpey fouled out with 1:05 left, and Prep up six and the Jesuits ext Leo Redgate has told me all season his team needs to be a team by this time of the year, and sure enough it is. Credit must go to him for that.
Speaking of Redgate, he delivered the line of the year on Saturday.
Good catch by Rich Pittera getting this on video. Redgate emailed me the link early Sunday morning. If you want a laugh, watch it. You need a Facebook account to view it, but who doesn’t have one of those these days?
State Open wrestling this weekend was dominated by Xavier, Hand and Danbury. The Falcons took top honors, netting 132 points, holding off the second-place Tigers and third-slotted Hatters.
But Fairfield Warde’s Mike Money (285) and Pharoh Eaton (132) still had successful days, as each finished third at his respective weight class. Warde placed 11th in the state with 50 points.
Ludlowe’s Henry Wales went 1-2, reaching the 126 quarters before losing his final two matches. Eric Kirchgasser and Ben Batulanon each competed for Ludlowe as well. Prep’s Conor Ward, Shane Dempsey and Joseph Roberts each were 2-2 as the Jesuits finished with 20 points.
Eaton and Money will wrestle at New Englands on Saturday in Providence, R.I.
Prep hockey should thank David White if it remains the New Haven Register’s No. 1 team in the state.
The senior potted four goals on Saturday, including one late in the third, and the game-winner in OT as the Jesuits stunned Hamden 4-3.
I missed this because I was at Prep hoops instead, but according to a Prep coach the Jesuits “were sloppy at times, but overall played well.”
The Jesuits are still in line, with a win over East Haven on Tuesday, to be the Division I No. 1 seed, but don’t seem to be playing their best hockey doing so. They were shut out by ND-West Haven last week and probably should have lost to Hamden.
Prep is an extremely good tournament team, every year, so expect the best to come out when the tournament begins next week.
My good buddy Brian Fitzsimmons is speaking at Sacred Heart University on Wednesday.
He’s a web editor at MSG Varsity and just finished his first book “Celtic Pride” about the prestigious St. Patrick’s (N.J.) High School boys basketball program. You can buy your copy here.
Full disclosure, Fitzsimmons has been one of my best friends since we went to Sacred Heart together. But still, there aren’t any state or conference tournament games on Wednesday night and the event is free, so why not go over there and see a published author speak?
And if nothing else, I’ll be there!
Where ELSE I’ll be this week
A lot depends on who advances, but here’s a tentative schedule through Thursday at least.
Tonight: Prep vs. Career, SCC boys basketball semis, tonight, East Haven High School, 6
Tuesday: Either Prep in SCC Finals, 7 or ND vs. Masuk, SWC boys basketball semis, 6
Thursday: Class LL girls basketball tournament game, TBA (if nec) or ND in SWC Finals (if nec)
Pat Pickens is the sports editor of the Fairfield Citizen, a Hearst Connecticut Newspaper organization. Follow him on Twitter here.