Favorites: Wamogo, Nonnewaug, Shepaug Valley
Players to watch: Charlie Coffey, Wamogo, Jr., G; Nolan Turturo, Wamogo, Jr., F; Jon Khazzaka, Nonnewaug, Sr., G
Outlook: Wamogo actually lost a league game last year — to Terryville — but other than that, it was pretty much the same dominance the Berkshire has seen in recent years. Wamogo won its fourth straight league championship. Which teams can derail the Drive for Five? Nonnewaug, which reached the final last year, could have the best shot.
CENTRAL CONNECTICUT CONFERENCE
2019-20 champion: East Catholic
Favorites: East Catholic, Northwest Catholic, Windsor, Bristol Central, New Britain
Players to watch: Donovan Clingan, Bristol Central, Jr., C; Matt Curtis, Northwest Catholic, Jr., G; Elijah Wilborn, Middletown, Jr., C; Brody Limric, East Catholic, Sr., F; Matt Houde, East Catholic, Sr., G; Troy McCoy, Windsor, So., G; Hayden Abdullah, Northwest Catholic, Jr., C; Jack Hall, Avon, Sr., G
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Outlook: The CCC retained the same regions from the fall sports season for COVID-19 protocol purposes. So we won’t see East Catholic square off against Windsor, or Bristol Central against either team. But we will get Northwest Catholic versus Windsor, East Catholic against East Hartford and New Britain against Bristol Central. Seven-footer Clingan blossomed into a dominant force last year and will do the same again for Bristol Central. He leads quite a list of prospects that include Curtis and Limric. The postseason format is yet to be determined, but it remains possible that we could see just the four regions play for titles.
CAPITOL REGION ATHLETIC LEAGUE
2019-20 champion: Innovation
Favorites: Innovation, Capital Prep, Weaver, Parish Hill
Players to watch: Keyshawn Mitchell, Capital Prep, Jr., F; Gabe Matias, Innovation, Sr., G; Michael Munroe, Parish Hill, Jr., G; Michael Crowe, University, Sr., G; Matt Rivera, Classical Magnet, Sr., G
Outlook: Innovation won its third consecutive championship last year, but lost a large group of players that helped lead the team to the 2019 Division V state championship. Innovation will have to try and win consecutive league title No. 4 against an expanded league to 10 teams that now includes Capital Prep, Weaver and Classical Magnet. Capital Prep looks to be the favorite to dethrone Innovation.
CONNECTICUT TECHNICAL CONFERENCE
2019-20 champion: Prince Tech
Favorites: Prince Tech, Goodwin Tech, Windham Tech
Players to watch: Tyshawn Jackson, Prince Tech, Sr., G; Dajon Nelson, Prince Tech, Jr., G; Dustin Garrison, Windham Tech, Sr., G
Outlook: Prince Tech not only didn’t lose a league game for the fourth straight season, the Falcons didn’t lose any games last season. Goodwin Tech almost was able to pull the huge upset in the CTC tournament final, hanging with Prince Tech the entire way before falling 57-54. The CTC will be split into four divisions this year: West, South, Central and East. Prince Tech and Goodwin Tech are both in the Central Division. The tournament format won’t be determined for at least a few weeks.
EASTERN CONNECTICUT CONFERENCE
2019-20 champion: Norwich Free Academy (Division I), St. Bernard (Division II)
Favorites: Norwich Free Academy, Fitch, Waterford, New London, St. Bernard
Players to watch: Jabari Jones, Ledyard, Sr., G; Tayeshawn Cunningham-Pemberton, New London, Jr., G; Jared Martin, NFA, Sr., G; Sean O’Connell, Waterford, Jr., F; Yaniel Hernandez, Fitch, Jr., G
Outlook: Instead of Division I and Division II, the ECC will break the league into the North and South divisions, based on geography to stay in line with COVID-19 protocols. The Mohegan Sun Arena will not be hosting the final, instead the site of the higher seed. The South Division is loaded, featuring NFA, Waterford, New London, Fitch and St. Bernard. NFA won’t go undefeated like last season, but still has a leg up on the others here. Griswold, Killingly and Plainfield are the contenders in the North.
FAIRFIELD COUNTY INTERSCHOLASTIC ATHLETIC CONFERENCE
2019-20 champion: Ridgefield
Favorites: Ridgefield, Fairfield Warde, Staples
Players to watch: Mileeq Green Trumbull, Sr., G; , Jr., F; Lucas Basich, Staples, Sr., G; Jay Jaudon, Stamford, Sr., G; Amos Grey, Ridgefield, Sr., G; Jason James, St. Joseph, Sr., G; Justyn Davis, Fairfield Warde, Jr., G; Jordyn Davis, Fairfield Warde, Jr., G
Outlook: Ridgefield has now been the league champion three of the last four years, so count the Tigers in once again as a bonafide contender and the favorite in the West Division. Fairfield Warde looks to be the early favorite in the East with Trumbull, St. Joseph and Staples right behind. Trinity Catholic, a multiple-time champion and a tournament finalist last year, has closed. Bassick and Harding have rejoined the league for this season only — the teams are normally independents — due to the COVID-19 pandemic. All three Bridgeport schools had their season canceled the third week of January, only to have the city reverse its decision on Jan. 29, allowing the varsity programs to compete.
NAUGATUCK VALLEY LEAGUE
2019-20 champion: Naugatuck
Favorites: Naugatuck, Sacred Heart, Crosby, Holy Cross
Players to watch: Connor Tierney, Sacred Heart, Sr., C; Avery Hinnant, Naugatuck, So., F; Sheldon Schuler, Ansonia, Sr., G/F; Kyle Lombardi, Holy Cross, Sr., G; Will Barton, St. Paul, Sr., F; Ese Onokpoma, Naugatuck, Sr., G; Dion Perkins, Seymour, Sr., G; Jon Rivera, Crosby, Jr., G; Tre Duncan, Sacred Heart, Fr., G
Outlook: Naugatuck won its first NVL championship since 1969. Sacred Heart had won the last five titles, but was upset in the semis by Holy Cross, having its 125-game NVL winning streak snapped. Sacred Heart lost both Lorenzo Washington and Caleb Sampson to prep schools while Naugatuck lost Robert Sanders (moved to play in Florida). The postseason format is still to be determined, but it will be the usual suspects in contention for whatever is offered: Naugatuck, Sacred Heart, Crosby and Holy Cross.
NORTH CENTRAL CONNECTICUT CONFERENCE
2019-20 champion: Canton
Favorites: SMSA, Granby, Somers, Canton,
Players to watch: Elon Munroe, SMSA, Sr., G; Josh Burke, Canton, Sr., G; Jack Degray, Granby, Sr., G
Outlook: Canton was able to claim its first league championship on Granby’s home floor. Canton will be in contention again behind Burke. SMSA was the regular-season champion a year ago and returns virtually everyone, including Munroe, making it the favorite. This squad lost in the tournament semifinals last year. Classical Magnet moved to the CRAL.
SOUTHERN CONNECTICUT CONFERENCE
2019-20 champion: Wilbur Cross
Favorites: Wilbur Cross, West Haven, Hillhouse, Notre Dame (WH)
Players to watch: Malcolm Duncanson, West Haven, Sr., G; Eli Blackwell, West Haven, Sr., G; Dereyk Grant, Wilbur Cross, Sr., G; Ben Carroll, Notre Dame-West Haven, Sr., C; Emmanuel Brown, Hilhouse, Jr., F; Logan Carey, Fairfield Prep, Jr., G; Jayvon Taylor, Wilbur Cross, Sr., G
Outlook: Wilbur Cross repeated as league champion, denying Notre Dame-West Haven its first title for the second straight time. Behind Grant and Taylor, the Governors are primed for a three-peat, with this one being played in Division I (the SCC will have two champions). West Haven, behind Duncanson and Blackwell, a transfer from Amistad, is right there with Cross, along with Notre Dame. Sheehan and Cheshire look to be the early favorites in Division II.
2019-20 champion: Old Lyme
Favorites: Morgan, Cromwell, Old Lyme, East Hampton
Players to watch: James Grodzicki, Cromwell, Sr., C; Maverick Swaney, Old Lyme, Jr., F Zach Johnson, Morgan, Sr., G Rob Zirlis, Morgan, Sr., F; Jack Naccarato, Westbrook, Sr., G
Outlook: Old Lyme ran the table last season, going undefeated and winning the league championship over Morgan in the final. The Wildcats will come back to the pack this year. Morgan could emerge as the favorite with its top eight players returning. Don’t ever count out Cromwell or East Hampton.
2019-20 champion: Kolbe Cathedral
Favorites: Immaculate, Kolbe Cathedral, Notre Dame-Fairfield
Players to watch: Akim Joseph, Notre Dame-Fairfield, Sr., G; Adbul Rassoul Abakan, Notre Dame-Fairfield, Sr., F; Jojo Wallace, New Milford, So., G; Jake Rosati, Masuk, Sr., G; Kevin Lanham, Bunnell, Sr., G; Jack Petersen, Newtown, Sr., G/F; Sebastian Parenti, Immaculate, Sr., G; Daniel Wellington, Kolbe Cathedral, Sr., G; Ty Staples-Santos, Kolbe Cathedral, Jr., G
Outlook: Immaculate hasn’t lost a regular-season league game in over three years. The Mustangs have reached the final in three of the last four years, but have come up short each time. Last year, it was to Kolbe Cathedral. Both teams will be in the mix for the title this year, joined by Notre Dame-Fairfield, which is poised for a complete turnaround thanks to a new coach (former Trinity Catholic coach Brian Kriftcher) and a number of transfers from Trinity Catholic, which closed at the end of the last school year.
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