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High school season promises wild second half

POSTED January 22, 2012
BY Rick Wilson
Twitter: @scribewilson


                                    High School season promises wild second half        

             A touch more than halfway through the high school basketball season, we have maybe one chance for a race on the NVL girls hoop scene and some good solid battles in both Berkshire League boys and girls and NVL boys.

            Some observations as one of the first snowfalls of the season throws a white blanket on the area.

            Let’s start with the NVL girls. While the title will be settle in the end of the season tournament, we will get an indication next week if there is any chance a team can challenge the Holy Cross juggernaut.

            The Crusaders will travel to the Connie Donahue Gymnasium Jan. 31 with the idea of duplicating an impressive 65-46 early season win over the Red Raiders. Holy Cross’ only loss this season has been to state top-10 team Mercy-Middletown, 60-52.

            There are no teams in the NVL that can match Holy Cross’ front line of Brianna Bradford, Kiera O’Donnell and Danielle Dorsett. Angelica Ariola is one of the NVL’s top guards. Torrington, however, has been receiving fine play from Ali Otis and Caycee Williams can be a force.

            Of course there is also the memory of last season’s miracle when Sarah Royals hit a half-court shot and was fouled; completing a four-point play for one of the most unlikely wins you will see anywhere.

            Holy Cross has received little competition in the NVL this season. We will see if that changes.

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            On the Berkshire League side, parity clearly is the rule and the title will probably be decided on the last night of the season. Remember the BL decide its title during the regular season and does not play off ties so that possibility is very real.

            Nonnewaug would sitting pretty if not for a poor fourth quarter which saw Wamogo rally from a nine-point deficit for an early season win. Wamogo would be in better shape if not for an overtime loss to Thomaston. The Golden Bears were handled by Nonnewaug early in the season.

            Friday night, Wamogo barely scraped by Lewis Mills while Thomaston needed some good fourth quarter stuff to overcome Shepaug. And then there is Northwestern who has beaten Wamogo.

            You get the picture, this is a given night league this year. Nonnewaug has two of the top players in the league who go strong to the basket in Katie Burke and Caitlin Drakeley. By the way, Drakeley went over the 1,000 point mark for her career Friday night in a win over Litchfield so congratulations to her.

            Wamogo has Kerri Stolle, as good a player as there is in the league and Megan Layman. Thomaston offers junior Maggie Eberhardt and then gets it from here, there and everywhere.

            Down the stretch, Wamogo plays at Nonnewaug and Thomaston hosts Nonnewaug.  If you want mystery and excitement, this is as good it gets.

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            There is also a huge degree of parity on the Berkshire League boys side. The most talented team in the league may very well be Northwestern Regional. But, Nonnewaug and Gilbert are clearly right there.

            The Highlanders lone league loss was a bitter one as Gilbert rallied from 19 points down at the half to squeeze out a one-point win. If the Highlanders can avoid letdowns, the title could be heading their way.

            Northwestern’s John Stevens may be the most dynamic player in the league and with Connor Guiheen there is a formidable duo for opponents to deal with.  In year’s past however, the Highlanders have had trouble closing the deal. Friday night they had to struggle to get by Housatonic (5-6), 79-74 in overtime.

            “We feel really good about (the race) now,’ said Stevens after the Highlanders took Nonnewaug to the woodshed, 46-26 earlier this week, handing the Chiefs their first loss of the season. “We still have Gilbert, Nonnewaug and Housatonic but it looks good for us now.”

            Nonnewaug has one of the hardest working players in the league in Dylan Martland and coach Tim Drakeley seems to always get the best out of his players.  The Chiefs will be there until the last day and look forward to the second time around against Northwestern.

            Meanwhile across town from Northwestern sits Mark Douglass’ Gilbert club. Any team that can throw 6-foot-4 Austin Brochu and lightning like guard Robert Skinner at you will be in the mix.

            Like the girls race, this is going to be a given night second half of the season and this race could go any way.

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            In the NVL boys race, Crosby’s brilliance has provided plenty of thrills over the years, racking up nine straight titles.  But this year the entertainment is coming from parity. Yep, there is that word again.

            Oh, Augelli’s club is still there led by Tyshon Rogers. But, lo and behold it is Watertown leading the Brass Division behind the play of Jon Mitchell and Ed Hill to name a few of the Indian stalwarts. 

            Coach Ed Generali’s Holy Cross Crusaders are down a bit this season particularly with the injury to top player Mike Mallory. But, the Crusaders are still Holy Cross and are 8-4. Friday night they took Watertown down to the wire on the road.

            Oh, did we forget about Wilby. Not really. Coach Alan Piccolo’s club has established itself as the team to beat behind the play of Walter Wright, Mike Omagbon and Thomas King.  Despite some close calls, only once have the Wildcats been tripped up, that by St. Paul, 62-54.

            Add it all up folks and the first half of the season should only have increased your desire to get out to a gym the second half of the season. The next month is going to be a beauty.

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