I’m under the weather today and sitting at a desk makes me dizzy, so please excuse the brevity of this preview of Thursday’s FCIAC boys basketball final between Bridgeport Central and Greenwich.
I didn’t want to not have any post.
This may have been a year of parity, but it was definitely in the middle class of the league. There have been six playoff games and the higher seed has won five. The lone exception was a 5 seed (Stamford) defeating a 4 (Westhill).
I would say there have been four distinct classes in the sport this year. Central and Greenwich were alone at the top. Next came a tier with Ridgefield, Westhill and Stamford. Below them were all but the few teams at the very lowest level.
If you were hoping for a surprise finalist, you are disappointed. If you want to see the two best teams play for the title, Fairfield Warde is the place to be Thursday night.
With that being said…
No. 1 Bridgeport Central (21-1) vs. No. 2 Greenwich (20-2), 7 p.m. The teams’ first meeting was an ugly 53-45 Central win. Hilltoppers coach Barry McLeod also said it was his team’s best defensive effort of the season. On the one hand, this analysis is simple: Central, the defending champion, is the most talented team in the league, and if it brings its A game will not be touched. Flip that: Greenwich is the team best equipped to deny the Hilltoppers of their A game. FCIAC Player of the Year Tyler Ancrum is the heart of Central. When he missed half of Saturday’s quarterfinal win over St. Joseph, the Hilltoppers were stagnant. In Tuesday’s semifinal win over Stamford, Ancrum was held scoreless until the third quarter but still dominated with 12 assists. Marcus Blackwell and Sha’Quan Bretoux have had great tournaments. McLeod called Bretoux the toughest matchup in the conference because of his versatility. That is hard to argue. While the Hilltoppers’ do it with an in-your-face approach, the Cardinals have the best defensive team, employing a variety of looks and executing them well. Greenwich won’t win without big games from CJ Byrd and Alex Wolf, who fouled out late in the semifinal win over Ridgefield. It won’t win without a player like Tommy Povinelli, Griffin Golden or Leonel Hyatt stepping up in a large supporting role. The one given: Jonathan Palmer will be giving one Central player a miserable time getting the ball or open looks. Greenwich has a tough but not impossible task. The Cardinals’ best chance is to deny penetration, pressure the perimeter as best they can and try to force Central to beat them from outside. If they can do this, as Golden said Tuesday night, the team will get to hang its first banner of any kind in the sport.