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CIAC Basketball Press Conference Notebook

POSTED March 15, 2013
BY John Nestor
Twitter: @nestorjdn

CIAC Basketball Press Conference Notebook: 

PLANTSVILLE - Capital Prep has been on a march toward its Saturday date with Thomaston in the Class S girls basketball title game all season but the journey really began at Mohegan Sun at the end of last season.

Capital Prep lost the Class S championship game to Coginchaug, 58-48, in March of 2012 and it was an eye-opener for coach Tammy Millsaps. What Millsaps took away from that loss was that the Trailblazers needed to be tested before they were on the big stage and that just wasn't the case last season.

"We learned last year that our competition just wasn't good enough on our schedule," Millsaps said of the takeaway from the Coginchaug loss. "So we made a concerted effort to go out and play some stiff competition and we beefed up the schedule quite a bit."

Did they ever.

The new and improved schedule included games with Archbishop Malloy (NY), Immaculate Conception (NJ), Bishop Ford Central Catholic (NY), Bishop Laughlin (NY) and St. John The Baptist (NY). Prep lost close games to Malloy, 55-50, and Bishop Ford Central Catholic, 66-64, for its only losses of the year. The closest anyone in 

Connecticut has come to the Trailblazers is Career Magnet, the preseason No. 1 team in the state that Prep beat  76-57 in the second game of the season in a statement game that gave a glimpse of what was to come.

"It was a great experience for us. We played the No. 1 team in New York City, we had games go down to the wire," Millsaps said. "They were great games for us to be able to learn and win in tough situations and you need that come playoff time."

It was something that the Trailblazers lacked last time they came to the Sun. The toughness, especially mentally, to come through when tested in big moments.

"We are a very young team and you can over estimate a kids ability to play under the lights and in the big moments and you have to put kids in a position to make plays under pressure," Millsaps said. "Last year we had one game, maybe two where we had to fight and claw but we didn't have enough close games. Those six non-conference games did that for us this year."

Now Millsaps and the Trailblazers believe they are ready for the limelight and for Thomaston.

"I saw Thomaston play in the semi's and solid team defensively, run some stuff offensively and like to get up and down," Millsaps said. "They have good guards, so we'll be ready for them.

BEARS ROARING AT RIGHT TIME: Conference Tournaments can sometimes be a predictor of things to come for a team during playoff time and sometimes not. For the Granby 

Bears boys basketball team it was definitely not.

The Bears were the top seed in the NCCC tournament and hosted the final against Avon and got destroyed by the Falcons, 71-36. But fast forward a couple weeks and Granby is playing for the Class S title against Weaver on Saturday morning.

"It was just one of those games," Granby coach Walter Hansen said. "We didn't play well, we just didn't have it and Avon was great, they did everything right."

But now it's Granby that has a chance to cut down the nets and it's because they learned from the loss and put it behind them.

"It actually might have been a good thing for us, kind of woke us up a bit," Hansen said. "We're playing well and now we have a shot at a state championship."

The Bears face Weaver, which entered the tournament 8-12 but has rolled off four straight wins, including a convincing victory over top-seeded Capital Prep. Granby beat Weaver during the regular season 82-69 on Dec. 28.

"We have good depth and we just have to take care of the ball and we should be ok," Hansen said.

HALL OF A WEEK: It's about as big a hoops weekend in the Fabbri house as anywhere in the state with a mom-daughter connection both going for titles.

Lauralton Hall junior Carly Fabbri will play in the Class LL state championship game on Saturday night and then the Fabbri household will have another huge game on Sunday.

Carly's mom is Tricia Fabbri, the head coach of the Quinnipiac Women's basketball team and the Bobcats are a win away from a state title berth and somewhat quietly 

having the best season of any basketball team in the state. Quinnipiac is the top-seed in the Northeast Conference Tournament and will host the fourth-seed Saint Francis in Sunday's Championship game at 5:00 p.m.

The Bobcats are 29-2 overall and 18-0 in the NEC.

EAGER BEAVERS: Led by freshman sensation Ke'Andre Fair the Weaver boys basketball team is in the Class S state title game despite entering the tournament with an 8-12 record and being seeded 25th.

Weaver beat No. 8 Gilbert in Winsted to open the tournament and topped No. 9 Woodland, No. 1 Capital Prep and No. 5 Old Lyme to reach the title game. 

Losses to heavyweights like Windsor, Glastonbury and East Hartford may have been frustrating, but they were close and the Beaver's built on them rather than get down on themselves.

"It's about character development and resolve, sticking with something and these kids have done that," Weaver Coach Charles Silvan said. "You don't stay the same, you get better or worse and every day these kids have worked to get better."

With air leading the way as a freshman and just three seniors on the roster, you might have thought that the Beavers were a year or so away from a run, but Silvan likes this group and came into the tournament thinking his squad had a chance to make some noise.

"These kids have bought in to everything we are trying to do," Silvan said. "Two years ago we had a better team, but we couldn't coach them. These guys work, play for each other and I thought we could make a run in the tournament and here we are."

NEWS AND NOTES: The Cromwell girls team is looking to become the first team to finish the season unbeaten since Holy Cross in 2007. The Panthers play Notre Dame Fairfield in the Class M title game Friday night. ... The Mercy girls are in their fourth straight final. Will this be their year? They beat Lauralton Hall during the regular season but have lost three straight title games by three, two and two points. ... The Farmington girls made history this season winning the CCC West for the first title in the school's history in girls basketball. The Indians said they made it a point entering the season to hang a banner on the wall this season and are a game away from hanging two this year, including a big one. Farmington plays Bacon Academy in the Class L title game on Saturday. Bacon is the defending Class L champion. 

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