A rollercoaster-ride of a regular season takes us to the FCIAC boys basketball tournament, which kicks off with four quarterfinal games at Fairfield Ludlowe on Saturday afternoon.
Unbeaten Westhill is the favorite, but don’t discount some lower seeds, considering the parity, from making their way though the bracket.
Trinity Catholic coach Mike Walsh, who has some experience coaching championship teams, agreed to break down the opening-round games for The Ruden Report.
By Mike Walsh
The FCIAC playoffs are interesting because three of the four games match up teams that played each other in the last seven days. Lets see what adjustments the coaches make and see how they change what they did in the past games, I think that will be interesting to see. (Westhill-Danbury is the one exception.)
No. 3 Norwalk (15-5, 13-5) vs. No. 6 Bassick (14-6, 12-6), Noon. Norwalk lost to Bassick in the first game, 75-68, despite a 42-point, 26-rebound effort by Roy Kane. How will Norwalk do? A key will be how well Zaire Wilson plays and Jeremy Linton. If they give Kane any help and support Norwalk should win. Bassick has very good guard play with balance from (Curhone) Baldwin, (Rajohn) James and (Kobe) Ancrum. They’re not going to back down from anyone on the court. I like Norwalk to win, they have the most talent in the league, in my opinion. The question is can they win the pressure game? They haven’t had a great history of winning big games but I feel that they will get by Bassick.
No. 2 Fairfield Ludlowe (15-5, 14-4) vs. No. 7 Wilton (14-6, 12-6), 2 p.m. They played at Ludlowe on Monday and Ludlowe crushed Wilton, and I think Wilton has their work cut out for them, especially if Matt Shifrin isn’t 100 percent. Joel (Geriak) has done a great job with Wilton, but Ludlowe, in my opinion, on its home court is the favorite. They have size and play good defense. Chad Peterson is an excellent defender on the ball and you don’t get any second shots against them. Wilton has to score in the 60s, and I don’t think it will happen.
No. 4 Trumbull (14-6, 12-6) vs. No. 5 Stamford (14-6, 12-6), 5 p.m. The best matchup of the first round. They played Feb. 18 at Trumbull and Stamford lost, 66-48. Trumbull is very tough on their home court but so-so on the road. Buddy Bray has done an excellent job with this group. They really have a good player in (Rashard) Rodriguez, and good support from (Ed) McElroy and (Billy) Brown. Stamford had trouble with the 3-2 zone when they met last week. I’m sure Dan Melzer will make an adjustment to attack it better. The key will be Kwe Askew. He will need to score inside for Stamford to win. It’s a tough one to pick but a slight edge to Stamford on a neutral court.
No. 1 Westhill (19-1, 18-0) vs. No. 8 Danbury (12-8, 11-7), 5 p.m. The first time they met Westhill won at home, 59-54. But since then Danbury has struggled at times while Westhill has finished a wonderful undefeated regular season (in league play). Howard White has done a great job with this team. They have excellent guard play with, in my opinion, and just about everyone else’s too, the FCIAC Player of the Year, Jeremiah Livingston, who along with CJ Donaldson give them two of the best guards in the league. But the unsung hero may be Tyrell Alexander. If he plays to his capabilities they will be tough to beat. They are quick and play great defense and they should win this game. But the FCIAC has a history of the 8th seed beating the No. 1 seed. I don’t see that happening here.