CHESHIRE, Conn. – The CIAC will kick-off a weekend of basketball championships culminating the “Run to the Sun” with the 2019 Boys and Girls State Basketball Championships Dedication at The Cabaret Theater at the Mohegan Sun on Saturday March 16.
The dedication ceremony on Saturday will begin the weekend of basketball by honoring seven individuals that have made significant contributions to high school basketball in Connecticut. Dr. Karissa Niehoff, former CAS-CIAC Executive Director and current Executive Director of the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) will be recognized with the CIAC Boys & Girls Basketball Dedication Award. In addition officials Anthony Gigliotti and Ted Lombardo, coaches Mike Fritch and Mike Walsh, and contributors Lori Riley and David Sousa will receive the 2019 Merit Awards. The ceremony will begin at 8:30 a.m. in The Cabaret Theater the Mohegan Sun Convention Center and is open to the public and the media.
- Karissa Niehoff was already an accomplished figure in the world of Connecticut high school athletics and education when she assumed the role of CAS-CIAC Executive Director in January of 2011. She was previously an accomplished high school coach, teacher, and administrator including leading Lewis Mills to a field hockey state title before becoming the organization’s Executive Director, where she was the sixth woman in 2010 to lead a state association on a full-time basis. Her tenure featured an emphasis on student-athlete well-being and health and safety, communication and transparency with its membership and prioritizing participation. Her poise and leadership helped bring the organization forward and led to her groundbreaking hire as the first female Executive Director in the history of the NFHS in April of 2018. CIAC is proud to honor her contributions to the association, high school basketball, and Connecticut high school athletics and education.
- Official Anthony Gigliotti has been a leader in the officiating community and a stellar performer on the court for Eastern IAABO Board 8 for decades. He has officiated 86 CIAC tournament games including eight semifinals and four finals, has represented Board 8 on its Executive Committee and has consistently given his time and effort to evaluate and mentor new officials.
- Fellow official Ted Lombardo has been an influential figure in high school athletics in numerous capacities including teaching, coaching and serving as an athletics director. From 1975-2009 he served as an official for Hartford IAABO Board 6 where he worked numerous league and state championship games, culminating by working the Class LL final in 2009 in his final season.
- Mike Fritch completed his 34thseason as a girls basketball coach and has helmed the Torrington program for 28 seasons withj more than 430 wins. He has guided teams to four quarterfinal and two semifinal appearances and his impact on Torrington was recognized with his selection as the Gold T Award recipient in 1988, which is an honor voted on by the school’s student-athletes.
- Mike Walsh has been associated with Trinity Catholic since 1973 and during his long tenure as the boys basketball program’s head coach he produced a remarkable record of 633-294. His teams won seven state state championships while making 13 finals appearances, and his program won 68-consecutive games over a three-year period.
- For 25 years, Lori Riley has told the stories of, and been a proponent for high school athletics and athletes in her role as a sportswriter for the Hartford Courant. She has covered everything from high school to UConn women’s basketball and has been honored by many organizations for her work including induction into the Connecticut High School Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
- David Sousa has served and mentored students in eastern Connecticut for decades in a variety of roles. He was teacher, coach and athletics administrator in Colchester and would go on to have a highly-successful tenure as athletic director at his alma mater Waterford High School. He held several leadership positions within his affiliated organizations and had a profound impact on the athletes and coaches he worked with and the organizations he served.
The dedication ceremony will begin a weekend of tournament action as five boys and four girls basketball finals will be played at Mohegan Sun Arena Saturday and Sunday. The nine games will be played in three sessions beginning Saturday morning with the session and game schedule as follows:
Session 1, Saturday March 16
Game 1: 10 a.m.
Game 2: 12:30 p.m.
Game 3: 3 p.m.
Session 2, Saturday March 16
Game 1: 6:15 p.m.
Game 2: 8:15 p.m.
Session 3, Sunday March 17
Game 1: 10:30 a.m.
Game 2: 1 p.m.
Game 3: 3:30 p.m.
Game 4: 6 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: http://casci.ac/4384 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. Games on both Saturday and Sunday will feature Unified Sports teams competing on the Mohegan Sun court during halftime.