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Between The Lines 2/12/13

POSTED February 12, 2013
BY John Nestor
Twitter: @nestorjdn

Between The Lines

It's mid-February and despite all the snow outside, the local basketball season is starting to heat up. If you like to follow good local teams or are a fan of 

Northwestern Regional you really haven't missed much because for all intents and purposes the Highlanders' season starts right now.

I am not trying to diminish the start Northwestern is off to, not at all. The Highlanders are 15-0 and the only unbeaten boys basketball team in the state. They are 

five wins away from being the top seed in Class M while winning a second straight Berkshire League regular-season title. But if you would have been told back in 

December that this is where Northwestern would be today, it hardly would have been a surprise.

Northwestern's season essentially starts tonight when it hosts Winsted rival Gilbert. The Highlanders have a two-game lead on the Yellowjackets and can clinch at least 

a share of the BL regular-season title with a win. That will be step one for Northwestern which has been targeting the postseason pretty much it was eliminated from 

the Class S tournament in the semifinals by eventual champion Immaculate last March.

Talking to Northwestern stars John Stevens and Connor Guiheen early in the season, it was obvious that they had their sights set on some lofty goals this season and so far they have done nothing to make anyone think they can't be accomplished.

After the regular season title gets wrapped up, the Highlanders should be a motivated group come BL Tournament time. Northwestern lost in the final to Gilbert last season in overtime and it was a stinging defeat. The Yellowjackets ended up beating the Highlanders three times last season winning the league tournament title in the process.

Northwestern already has one win over Gilbert this season and isn't likely to be satisfied.

It's not fair to just judge a season on the playoffs, but what happens over the next month will go a ong way in determining the legacy that the 2012-13 Highlanders leave behind. A BL regular season title seems a certainty and they will be the favorites to win the BL Tournament as well.

That double would put the Highlanders somewhere near 22-0 if they run the table entering the Class M tournament, in which they would be the top seed. Last year Northwestern ran into a buzzsaw in Immaculate, which had it all, size, speed and shooting. That sounds a lot like this year's Northwestern team.

They don't have a monster in the middle, but few high school teams in the state outside of Fairfield Prep do. What they have is length and athleticism which they use to force the pace with a trapping defense that has been way too much for just about every opponent they have faced. Guiheen and Stevens are as potent a one-two scoring punch as you'll see and Arthur LeFevre, Mike Jeffko and Jimi Phillips are all capable of piling up points in Northwestern's fast-paced style.

Not every game has been a laugher. Terryville put up a fight and Nonnewaug took the air out of the ball and Guiheen had to hit a three at the buzzer for a 44-41 victory. Gilbert won't go down quietly tonight either and that will serve the Highlanders well as they need to be tested before tournament time.

Because that's when the real season starts for one of the best teams the BL has seen in a long time.

DOUBLE DECCY: Lewis Mills senior Stephanie Deccy is two-for-two as far as state titles go this year. Two seasons, two titles.

Last week Deccy won the 3,200 meters at the state Class M indoor track championships. She very nearly pulled off a double, finishing second in the 1,600 to Kellie Davis of Hillhouse, who passed Deccy in the final few meters.

In the fall Deccy won the Class M cross country title at Wickham Park by 18 seconds over Davis, who finished second.

SUNDAY IS IN PLAY: With many schools in Connecticut still out, the CIAC announced it will be allowing the scheduling of Sunday makeup contests for Winter sports for the remainder of the regular season.

The conditions of scheduling Sunday games are that they are mutually agreed upon by both schools and do not start prior to 12:30 p.m. The CIAC is hoping that allowing Sunday games will help schools complete their regular season schedules prior to the last date to count for state tournament berths.

NEWS AND NOTES: Whenever they actually play I'll take the Thomaston girls over Nonnewaug in what will be quite a game for the Berkshire League regular season title. When it comes down to it, the Bears will have the best player on the floor in Maggie Eberhardt and that will be the difference. ... Congrats to former Tlorrington star Brenden Lytton, who signed to play football at Central Connecticut on National Signing Day. Lytton, who played at Milford Academy in the fall, has enrolled at Central for the Spring Semester and is the only running back in the Blue Devils' 17-member recruiting class... Question or comment, email and follow on Twitter @nestorjdn.

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