It seems nature has decided nary a CIAC Tournament can take place this year without some sort of weather disruption. Despite numerous postponements late last week, the winter tournaments are mostly back on schedule with the girls basketball final berths earned Monday night, and the boys basketball and hockey finalists will be secured in the coming days. This week’s Eye On The CIAC features a quick look at each of the tournament brackets and highlights some of the noteworthy results. No Ratings Watch this week, but plenty of tournament action to keep an eye on.
- The bottom half of the Class L bracket had some upheaval in the quarterfinals as both the second and third seeds were eliminated. Tenth seed Farmington got past second-seed Pomperaug by eight, and sixth-seed RHAM advanced in overtime by knocking off Berlin. The semi-finals will feature three double-digit seeds as 12th-seed Tolland also advanced to play top-seed Bacon Academy. One of those double-digit seeds went on to reach the final as 10th-seed Farmington continued its unlikely tourney run and will battle Bacon Academy in the final. Bacon Academy prevailed in a defensive duel against Tolland, winning 33-27. Farmington downed RHAM by nine and has knocked off the second and sixth-seeded teams in the past two rounds.
The Class S bracket has nearly completely held to form into the semi-final round, with each of the top three seeds reaching that point. The lone exception is 10th-seed East Windsor which upset second-seed Cheney Tech by four points in the quarterfinal. Third-seed Thomaston got all it could handle from Hyde Leadership in the quarterfinals, eventually prevailing by four points to reach the semi-finals. Top seed Capital Prep continued its march through the bracket in the semi-finals with a convincing victory, earning a right to play third-seed Thomaston in the finals. Thomaston claimed a 12-point win over East Windsor, which had knocked off the number-two seed in the quarterfinal round.
- In class LL the semi-finals will feature the top four seeds as the favorites have cruised through the field with Lauralton Hall’s six-point win over Danbury ranking as the tightest game of the quarterfinal round. The four semi-finalists have a combined six losses on the season and Lauralton Hall’s quarterfinal win was the only game featuring the four teams in the tournament decided by six points or fewer.
- Weaver is serving as the party-crasher in Class M as the 12th-seed upended fourth-seed Nonnewaug in the quarterfinals to earn a match-up with top-seed Cromwell in the semi-finals. Weaver won by three in overtime to earn the semi-final spot, while the remaining semi-finalists are the top three seeds in the bracket. Notre Dame-Fairfield had the other toughest game in the quarters, topping Montville by six points in that contest.
- Action kicked off on Monday evening in boys basketball in Class LL with a few upsets and some tight games. The biggest was with Newtown as the 29th seed knocking off the top seed in action in round one in fourth-seed Crosby. It was a tight three-point win for Newtown, which was not the tightest game of the year New London claimed a one-point win over Glastonbury and Cheshire got past Simsbury by one point. Those two games were also the other upsets of round one as Glastonbury and Cheshire are seeded 21st and 26th respectively. The surprising and tight results continued moving into the quarterfinals. Nineteenth-seed Xavier ousted defending champions St. Joseph by a 62-60 score to rank as the highest seeded team to reach the quarterfinals. One second-round contest was decided in overtime as Ridgefield earned a shot at top-seed Fairfield Prep by downing New Britain 63-57 in overtime. Nine seed Ridgefield are one of four teams seeded higher than eighth to reach the quarterfinal round along with Xavier, Bridgeport Central and Westhill. Xavier followed up its second-round shocker with an overtime win over Windsor in the quarterfinals to earn a match-up with Hillhouse in the semi-final round. Fifth-seed East Hartford got past Westhill by two points in the other tight quarterfinal and will now meet top seed Fairfield Prep.
- One of the top games of the first round came in Class M with Goodwin Tech downing Suffield 60-58 in double overtime. There was another one-point game with Weston getting past University 54-53 in round one. Twenty-sixth seed Tolland provided the biggest upset of round one, knocking off seventh-seed Windham by 10. The higher seeds won 12 of the 16 games in round one, and 20th seed Stonington and 12th-seed Cromwell both also had two-point wins in the round. The game between eight and nine seeds in M also went to overtime with ninth-seed Bloomfield topping Notre Dame-Fairfield earning an 84-79 win. The tightest game was the 3/19 match-up, which resulted in an upset with 19th-seed Berlin topping third-seed Bethel by one. Twenty-third seed Weston is still alive after a second-round win, and is the highest remaining seed in the bracket. The M bracket has been the most turbulent for the top seeds as the semi-finals feature the fifth, sixth, ninth and 23rd seeds. Weston’s improbable run continues into the semi-finals after stopping second-seed Kaynor Tech by eight in the quarterfinals. Valley Regional claimed a six-point win in the other quarterfinal that was decided by less than 10 points, earning a shot at ninth-seed Bloomfield which blitzed top-seed Northwestern in the quarters.
- The only first-round upset in Class L was a thrilling contest with Farmington knocking off sixth-seed Avon 57-56 in triple overtime. Four other opening round games were decided by four points or fewer, including a two-point win from Middletown over Naugatuck. Tenth-seed Wilton also went to overtime in the first round before getting past Wethersfield by 10 points. The second round saw the majority of top seeds advancing as five of the eight quarterfinal spots belong to the top eight seeds. Wilton played another tight game in the second round, upsetting Maloney 67-64 to earn its spot in the quarterfinals. RHAM earned a six-point win over Farmington and as the 11th-seed is the highest seeded team in Class L to reach the quarterfinals.
- The rough overtime night for sixth seeds in the first round also was a factor in Class S with 27-seed Old Saybrook getting past sixth-seed Coventry 64-62 in double overtime. Two other games came down to the wire with Woodland claiming a three-point win over St. Bernard and East Hampton winning the battle of Easts with a four-point victory over East Windsor. The first round also stuck mainly to seeding form with only two upsets. Along with Old Saybrook’s triumph 25th-seed Weaver put up 94 points in a win over eighth-seed Gilbert. Six of the eight highest seeded teams have reached the quarterfinals in Class S, with Old Saybrook and Weaver continuing their runs into the quarterfinals. All but three of the second-round games in Class S were decided by seven points or fewer, with Old Lyme getting past Nonnewaug in overtime. The tightest was Old Saybrook pulling off another upset with a three-point win over Westbrook.
- Qualifying round play opened in Division II with a high scoring performance in one game. Newtown topped Conard in an 8-6 offensive explosion to advance to the first round where it will play top-seed Amity. Newtown then followed it up on Tuesday by knocking off the top seed 2-1 to reach the quarterfinals. Trinity Catholic also won in the qualifying round by a 3-0 margin, earning the right to face second-seed East Catholic. Also earning an upset in the first round was Fairfield Warde/Ludlowe downing fourth-seed Watertown-Pomperaug by a 3-2 score. Northwest Catholic went to overtime in its opening round game, eventually getting past Daniel Hand by a 2-1 score in overtime for the seventh seed to advance. The quarterfinals saw more drama with Fairfield Warde/Ludlowe continuing the run of upsets with a 4-3 double-overtime win over Branford to reach the semi-finals. In the lower part of the bracket Brookfield-Bethel-Danbury also went to two overtimes to upend Guilford 4-3. The bottom half of the bracket stayed true to seeding, while the top half as the ninth and 13th seeds in the semi-finals.
- In Division III, New Fairfield-Immaculate earned a match-up with top-seed Newington-Berlin-Manchester thanks to a 3-2 opening-round win over Housatonic-Northwestern-Wamogo. The bracket has generally progressed as expected by seeding with only five-seed Masuk breaking up the top seeds. Number-two seed NFA-St. Bernard-Bacon had a battle in the quarterfinals, but outlasted Sheehan 1-0 in overtime to reach the semi-finals.
- The Division I opening round dropped the puck on Wednesday night with several stellar games taking place. Second-seed Notre Dame-West Haven was pushed to the brink before coming up with a 5-4 overtime win over East Haven to reach the quarterfinals. Other one-goal contests included sixth-seed St. Joseph getting past New Canaan by a 3-2 score, and number-four Xavier skated past 13th-seed West Haven 2-1 in overtime. The fifth seed is the only one to break up the top-4 in Division I as Ridgefield topped Xavier to reach the semi-finals and earn a spot against top-seed Fairfield Prep. That was the only quarterfinal decided by two goals or less as the higher seeds had little trouble reaching the semi-finals.
- The swimming postseason got underway on Wednesday with the diving finals in Class L and Class M. Darien and Middletown both had a pair of divers place in the top-five, led by Darien’s Lee Christensen who placed first with a score of 450.75. Class M was more balanced with five different teams represented among the top-five finishers though New Canaan and New Fairfield each had two divers in the top-10. Dean Conte of Branford was the top individual finisher with a point total of 426.80. The qualifying meets for the class championships all took place over the weekend, setting up the class meets for this week. The diving finals in LL and S will be held on Monday, and the class championship meets will be Tuesday (LL, L) and Wednesday (M, S).
- It isn’t a Connecticut Tournament but Eye On The CIAC would be remiss not to mention a pair of national championships for track and field standouts. Precious Holmes of Hillhouse crossed the line first in the 400-meter race at the New Balance Indoor Track Nationals at The Armory in New York City, running a time of 53.43 which ranks as the fastest in the nation this year. Also earning a victory was Staples standout Henry Wynne who placed first in the mile, crossing the line in 4:08.15 to narrowly claim the win. The Hillhouse girls 1,600 sprint medley relay also claimed a victory at the meet, and the Staples boys distance medley relay also captured a victory.
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