Boys Basketball

Second-Chance Points: If FCIAC Teams Were Stocks, A Few Strong Buys

Fairfield Ludlowe’s Rowan Keesser tries to stop St. Joseph’s Glenn Manigault on Monday night. Both teams are in the hunt for high playoff seeds. (Mark Conrad)

Getting a grasp on this FCIAC season is like trying to clutch an eel with your hands covered in mayonnaise. Contenders win and lose games against other contenders by 20 or more points, sometimes in the same week.

Right now it appears the champion will likely come from one of three schools, with a number of teams capable of winning twice in the league tournament and almost everyone holding a realistic hope of making it to Wilton.

If I were broker and you wanted to buy team stocks, here’s my advice. As with any volatile market, some of these may be best shorted.

Buy Up

Trinity Catholic. Malcolm Newman is the real deal, the missing piece the Crusaders have needed for a year and a half. Andrew St. Louis has been very unsung and now the team has the league’s best backcourt.

Akim Joseph provides a strong presence inside and he is surrounded by complementary players.

The Crusaders only go six deep — they need to stay out of trouble — and are dependent on dictating tempo. Their halfcourt game is a questions mark.

With all that, the Crusaders are the team to beat solely on talent.

A Solid Purchase

Ridgefield. The good: the Tigers have navigated a difficult road and have suffered just one loss in league play. The bad: the loss was to Trinity — by 29 points.

It remains to be seen if that margin was an aberration or not because the Tigers play the kind of disciplined game that could cause the Crusaders difficulty.

Ridgefield lacks the big-time stud of recent years, but this is basically the same product. Strong defense. Mistake-free. Disciplined. And balanced scoring, led by Chris Knachel, is a positive.

I am really looking forward to Monday night because…

Fairfield Warde. If you took some of the ingredients from Trinity, some from Ridgefield and blended for three minutes…you would get the Mustangs, who visit the Tigers in six days.

The Mustangs have good depth and can play an inside-outside game, especially when Brendan McMahon is on from the perimeter. Twins Jordyn and Justyn Davis can take over games at times, and look like the sophomores they are at others.

If they play like upperclassmen, Warde is going to be a handful in the postseason.

Worth A Few Shares

Fairfield Ludlowe. The Falcons spanked St. Joseph by 29 points last night — a week after losing by 24 to Fairfield Warde. Welcome to FCIAC boys basketball this season.

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I’m not sure a team that could be, say, a No. 4 seed would be considered a sleeper, but the Falcons are capable of winning two games and then who knows what happens in the final.

When Ian Bentley and Rowan Keesser are on, the Falcons have a dynamic few others possess. Guard James Bourque is the quarterback and his play is critical to Ludlowe’s success.

Staples. The Wreckers have been a surprise so far but they are 2-4 against opponents in playoff contention. One of the wins is against the pre-Newman Crusaders, which is still a quality outcome.

The 1-2 punch of Jake Thaw and Lucas Basich is dangerous, and there are other players that can score. Can the Wreckers live by the 3 through the postseason?

Maybe???

Wilton. I look at Wilton’s personnel and wonder how it was 4-4 in league play a week and a half ago. I have no idea right now if the Warriors have underachieved or if they were overrated in my eyes.

They have won three in a row, but their best FCIAC decision is against Brien McMahon. They have lost to St. Joseph, New Canaan, Fairfield Warde and Trinity Catholic.

The Warriors finish against five likely or potential playoff teams. I’m checking them out Thursday night against Trumbull, a game they need to win.

Too Risky

New Canaan, Trumbull, St. Joseph, Stamford, Brien McMahon. There are 11 teams still in the race for eight spots. And depending on the opponent each may be capable of pulling a first-round upset if they qualify.

The Rams would have been in the hunt for a four through six seed if not for the injury to Alex Gibbens, who was one of the league’s best players until suffering a hip injury. His absence made points hard to find and disrupted chemistry.

The Cadets rode guard play to a 9-1 start in the league but they have lost two in a row and still have Ridgefield — at home on Friday — and Warde remaining. On the positive side: they won nine games in a row and failed to slip against mostly the bottom half of the league, a cushion that should earn them a decent seed barring a collapse. St. Joseph is one of the few teams I still don’t have a great read on.

The Eagles are 3-4 in their last seven games, which doesn’t breed confidence. They are one of the league’s all-or-nothing teams. They are great when on and, well, play below .500 when not. Is there enough time left to find consistency?

I thought the backcourt of Jay Jaudon and Jaden Bell would make the Black Knights a team on the next tier up than they have been so far. Back to back wins over New Canaan and Trumbull were the high point. Jaudon and Bell could be enough to make Stamford a threat, if it qualifies.

The Senators had a midseason four-game losing streak to playoff teams by an average of 12 points. They need a win over city rival Norwalk on Thursday because they have a very difficult schedule to end the season.

Bracketology

No. 1 Trinity Catholic (10-5, 9-2) vs. No. 8 Trumbull (9-6, 6-5)
No. 2 Ridgefield (13-2, 10-1) vs. No. 7 St. Joseph (11-4, 9-3)
No. 3 Fairfield Warde (12-3, 9-2) vs. No. 6 Wilton (8-7, 7-4)
No. 4 Fairfield Ludlowe (12-3, 8-3) vs. No. 5 Staples (11-4, 7-4)