Fairfield has the state’s top hockey team, one of the top wrestling programs, and, evidently, one of the state’s top defensive teams in boys basketball.
Let’s recap the past week and touch on some storylines.
Prep Hockey is No. 1
The Jesuits will trek to Smithfield, R.I. to play LaSalle Academy Saturday. Prep plays road games at West Haven and Cheshire next week and, barring a loss to either, should remain atop the state.
Warde Wrestling remains undefeated
It’s interesting that Warde is still undefeated, because Mustangs’ coach Jason Shaughnessy is actually trying to get losses for his wrestlers.
Nevertheless, the Mustangs improved to 8-0 with a 52-21 win over crosstown rival Ludlowe.
The logic behind trying to get losses is, in order to win state and league titles, a wrestling team needs finishers.
“My goal throughout the season is to get my undefeated kids losses,” he said. “If I can get them a loss and respect the outcome and work hard, then that’ll help us win states.”
There’ll be ample opportunity for Warde’s grapplers to falter, though. The Mustangs wrestle at the Merrimack Invitational in New Hampshire this weekend, has Bristol Eastern coming to town next Friday, then will trek to Ledyard and Danbury the following week.
“We have a tough schedule,” Shaughnessy said.
It’s all part of Shaughnessy’s master plan.
“We’re here to win state championships,” he said, “not lose in the semifinal of states.”
Prep’s showdown looms
The Jesuits pummeled Career Magnet on Tuesday in New Haven.
But Prep’s first real test is coming Tuesday.
Paschal Chukwu and the Jesuits will host the state’s No. 1 team, Hillhouse, at 7. Considering No. 2 Windsor was just upended Tuesday by East Catholic, expect the Academics and Jesuits to meet as the state’s top- and No. 2 ranked teams.
Also expect a strong, vociferous Bomb Squad at Alumni Hall. This is the first of at least two– and as many as four– meetings between Prep and Hillhouse. The game will go a long way to determine whether the Jesuits belong on the stage as one of the state’s best.
Ludlowe’s success lies in its defense
The Falcons’ boys basketball squad has scored 67 points in its last eight-and-a-half quarters.
Yet, Ludlowe hasn’t lost.
Somehow the Falcons have won two straight, without their leading scorer Connor Peterson, and have stolen victories over Brien McMahon and Staples.
“We’re missing Connor big time,” Ludlowe coach Brian Silvestro told me Friday.
Silvestro told me he expects Peterson to return next Friday when Ludlowe hosts Norwalk.
Ludlowe held down the Senators and Wreckers mostly by playing a 2-3 zone defense. Silvestro admitted it isn’t glamorous, but he’ll take it.
“It’d be easy to explain if we were playing this great man-to-man defense, but we’ve been playing zone this whole time,” he said. “Our game (against Staples) played out just as I hoped it would.”
Falcons girls on the brink of states
Consider Ludlowe’s girls basketball team the surprise squad of the season.
The Falcons play mostly sophomores and juniors, yet have won five of six after a 2-3 start, and are now 7-4 after their 44-24 win over Staples.
Caroline Pangallo’s had a breakout year scoring, and the Falcons embrace the team concept. Ludlowe sits, presently, as the No. 8 seed in the FCIAC playoffs and have an interesting next five games that will likely determine whether the Falcons reach the FCIAC tournament.
Ludlowe wrestling coach Nick Garoffolo told me he likes where his squad is headed, saying “We came to wrestle, we wrestled hard, we didn’t roll over for them.” …. Warde wrestler Gabe Dias, who upset Garoffolo’s son Matt at 220-pounds with a 1:00 pin on Wednesday, admitted that heavyweight Amed Hourani has been a big influence on him. Dias said “I think working with Amed has been helping a lot … I was proud of myself.” … Fairfield co-op hockey dropped its first home game Wednesday, 4-2 to Greenwich. The Mustangs will take on the state’s No. 4 team Darien on Saturday at Wonderland of Ice…. Our Mike Cardillo did a story about ND basketball players Dan Upchurch and Earl Coleman, which ran in the Connecticut Post on Friday.
Upcoming coverage schedule
Friday: Weston at ND, boys basketball, 7
Saturday: Darien at Fairfield, boys ice hockey, 2:30
Tuesday: Westhill at Ludlowe, girls basketball, 7
Wednesday: ND-Fairfield at Hamden, boys ice hockey, 7
Pat Pickens is the sports editor of the Fairfield Citizen, a Hearst Connecticut Newspaper organization. Follow him on Twitter here.