CHESHIRE, Conn. – The CIAC will kick-off a weekend of basketball championships culminating the “Run to the Sun” with the 2017 Boys and Girls State Basketball Championships Dedication at The Cabaret Theater at the Mohegan Sun on Saturday March 18.
The dedication ceremony on Saturday will begin the weekend of basketball at 9 a.m. by honoring seven individuals who have made significant contributions to high school basketball in Connecticut. George Synnott, the Director of CIAC Unified Sports and longtime coach and administrator is the recipient of the 2017 CIAC Boys & Girls Basketball Dedication Award. In addition officials Gary Liberatore and Peter Palermino, coaches Sheila McCabe-King and John Mirabello, and administrators Paula Fitzgerald and Tom Malin will receive the 2017 Merit Awards. The ceremony will begin at 9 a.m. in The Cabaret Theater the Mohegan Sun Convention Center and is open to the public and the media.
- Synnott enjoyed lengthy and decorated career as a teacher, coach and administrator at St. Paul Catholic High School in Bristol and then as Principal at Berlin High School where he was a committed part of CAS-CIAC serving as a representative on numerous committees including a tenure as chair of the CIAC Board of Control. He then joined the CIAC Unified Sports staff first as Assistant Director in 2010 and then assumed the Director position in the summer of 2014. He has been a significant contributor to high school athletics and the boys and girls basketball tournaments, including helping to bring Unified basketball participation to the finals at Mohegan Sun.
- Liberatore has been a basketball official since 1980 after his own standout high school and collegiate athletic career that earned him numerous accolades. Since joining IAABO Board #9 (Fairfield County) he has excelled as an official, working several CIAC and FCIAC tournament games and finals and earning recognition for his efforts.
- Fellow official Palermino serves a vital role as CT IAABO State Rules Interpreter while continuing his career as an official which began in 1983. He has worked five CIAC basketball finals and has held several leadership positions within IAABO Board #6 as well as being elected IAABO State President in 2014.
- McCabe-King has been a fixture of the coaching landscape at Berlin High School since 1983 coaching many different sports and assuming the girls basketball head coaching position in 2004. Her teams have produced four seasons with more than 20 wins and boast three state semifinal and one finals appearance as well as four conference championships during her tenure.
- For 30 years Mirabello has led the Northwest Catholic boys basketball program to incredible success. He guided the team to a state title in 1998 his 11th season as coach, and then earned three more titles and another four runner-up plaques in 29 years. His teams have produced 15 20-win seasons and 10 conference titles as well.
- Fitzgerald served as the athletics director for the Westbrook schools for 33 years along with a decorated career as a coach at Westbrook helping to elevate the sport of girls basketball during her career. She helped build an incredibly successful athletic program at the school and served several leadership positions for the Connecticut Association of Athletic Directors, and was honored with the groups Distinguished Service Award in 2002 for her contributions.
- Malin has been a valuable contributor to CIAC and along with other leadership associations throughout his lengthy career as athletic director and coach at East Catholic High School. He serves as tournament director for two CIAC sports, and has willingly hosted many CIAC tournament contests and his contributions to high schools sports has earned him the CAAD Distinguished Service Award along with induction into the CHSCA Hall of Fame.
The dedication ceremony will begin a weekend of tournament titles as four boys and four girls basketball finals will be played at Mohegan Sun Arena Saturday and Sunday. The eight games will be played in three sessions beginning Saturday morning with the session and game schedule as follows:
Session 1, Saturday March 18
Game 1: 10 a.m.
Game 2: 12:30 p.m.
Game 3: 3 p.m.
Session 2, Saturday March 18
Game 1: 6:15 p.m.
Game 2: 8:15 p.m.
Session 3, Sunday March 19
Game 1: 12:30 p.m.
Game 2: 3 p.m.
Game 3: 5:30 p.m.
The announcement for which championship game will be played at each time slot will be announced following the conclusion of the semifinal rounds. Separate tickets will be sold for each session, with one ticket good for each of the games in that session. Presale tickets are available online for fans who know they want to attend specific sessions and can be found at this link: “Click Here for Presale Ticket Info” but fans of specific teams may want to wait to purchase online tickets until the game schedule is finalized as ticket sales will be for specific sessions.
The championship weekend also provides a showcase for Unified Sports basketball as a Unified game is scheduled to take place at halftime of four of the championship games. The two afternoon games on both Saturday and Sunday will feature Unified Sports teams competing on the Mohegan Sun court during halftime.