By: Sam Rubinstein (@_samruby)
For the second day of "CCC Week" we take a look at the South region of the CCC, and what we can expect from each division. See who has the opportunity to make some noise.
CCC - South Region
2016 Record: 8-11, play-in game loss in Class L tournament, did not make CCC tournament
Outlook: A year ago Bristol Central snuck into the Class L tournament as a 34 seed where they eventually lost at the buzzer in the play-in game to Bethel. Watch for the Rams to continue their rise as they return one of the more underrated juniors in the state with Jaekwon Spencer. As a sophomore last winter, Spencer averaged closed to a double-double with 16 points and 9 rebounds per game. The transfer of Jamil Hornesby leaves most of the load on Spencer’s shoulders along with the help of senior Aaron Collins and junior Isaiah Williams.
2016 Record: 2-18, did not make Class L tournament, did not make CCC tournament
Outlook: Coming off of a 2-18 season, there is nowhere to go but up for the Lancers. They lose rising junior Tyler Arbuckle to transfer, but also receive Roderick Jenkins who transferred in from Waterbury Career Academy. Jenkins, a senior, will play an important role this season with his new team. Seniors Tom Gonzales and Mike Rivera will have to be important factors this season to see some success, along with junior Rajon Collins. Rising sophomore Carter Dziedzic played a lot as a freshman last winter and was able to consistently showcase his scoring abilities; look for him to have an important role in Bristol Eastern’s rise back to a high level of play.
2016 Record: 4-16, did not make Class LL tournament, did not make CCC tournament
Outlook: After qualifying for the state tournament two seasons ago, the Golden Hurricanes took a step back last year by only winning six games. New Britain loses a All CCC South guard in Donovan Lighty, but bring back a young core that will lead the team. Rising senior Jordan Williams and junior guards Jamani Eaton and Melvin Deleon will be the three at the front of the pack. If the Hurricanes find success this season, look for it to be a true team effort with contributions from every player on the court.
2016 Record: 24-2, lost in Class L semifinals, lost in CCC quarterfinals
Outlook: Newington loses a strong senior class and also an all-state forward in Nick Guadarama, who transferred out to prep school. Despite losing several key pieces from their historic run last year in which they won 24 games, the Indians bring back arguably the most important piece in Jared Simmons. The two time all-state point guard and school’s all-time leading scorer is one of the top players in the entire state and has the ability to lead his team back on the cusp of a championship just like last winter. One man can never do it alone though. There are many spots to be filled around Simmons and several of the key underclassmen have a chance to make an impact right away.
2016 Record: 14-9, lost in second round of Class L tournament, lost in first round of CCC tournament
Outlook: Wethersfield enjoyed a great year last year in which they qualified for both the conference and state tournaments. Just like many other teams in the CCC, graduation will take a toll this season as they lose several seniors from last year that played important roles. Returning for the Eagles who has the potential for a breakout year is junior Jimmy Sullivan. Sullivan has been on the varsity squad since freshman year and will be the go-to-guy for Wethersfield.
2016 Record: 11-11, lost in first round of Class L tournament, lost in first round of CCC tournament
Outlook: Berlin returns senior big man, Jack Lynch, who unfortunately keeps catching the injury bug. Last winter, he broke his jaw in late December, and this past fall, as the quarterback for the school’s football team, Lynch suffered a season-ending knee injury. We hope Lynch is healed in time for hoops season and Berlin does too. Before his injury last year, he collected 39 rebounds in just two and half games. Along with Lynch, Spencer Duke returns for his senior season after scoring a game-high 17 points in the team’s final game last year. Kyle Mogelnicki will also play an important role as one of the guards. Berlin clinched a spot in the CCC tournament for the first time since 2013 last year and they have a chance to do it again this time around.
2016 Record: 12-12, lost in quarterfinals of Class L tournament, lost in first round of CCC tournament
Outlook: Maloney is bringing back a strong senior tandem with Alejandro Ortiz and Jeff Massicotte. Massicotte is more of a distributing guard while Ortiz can really score it. He averaged double digits last season including a 31 point outburst against Bristol Central. Both will have the ball in their hands often and will be relied on to orchestrate the team. After a .500 season last winter with a few playoff appearances, look for the Spartans to come back strong and be a tough opponent night in and night out in the CCC as they have been the past several seasons.
2016 Record: 24-4, lost in championship game of Class L tournament, lost in semifinals of CCC tournament
Outlook: Middletown had an amazing run last season that ended on the floor of Mohegan Sun where they fell to East Catholic in the state championship game. The talent on the Dragon’s roster is deep and well spread out, which makes them so tough to defend. Ahmad Privott is one of the leaders returning this season after being named second team Class L last year. Tyshaun James, DeAaron Lawrence, Aveon Woods, and Markevious Sneed also return to play major roles. Middletown will again be one of the more deeper rosters in the league and will be one of the top teams in the state again.
2016 Record: 7-14, lost in first round of Class L tournament, did not make CCC tournament
Outlook: Losing an all state player like Nick Casiano is as a tough task to handle especially after the year that Rocky Hill had last season. The Terriers barely qualified for the Class L tournament with just 7 total wins. WIth Casiano gone to prep school, senior Alex Sikorski will have the ball in his hands a lot and will be relied upon heavily to produce. Sikorsky, the 6’1 shooting guard, is a four year varsity player and was an All CCC South selection last year. Rocky Hill also has a very solid group of young players that will help run the show this year including juniors Will White and JD Monaco. The Terriers have the chance to get back to the state playoffs this season and can’t be taken lightly night in and night out.
2016 Record: 7-13, did not make Class L tournament, did not make CCC tournament
Outlook: Plainville comes into the 2017 season after losing a strong senior core from last year. The Blue Devils have something to look forward to though as they bring back sophomore Brady Callahan, who started as a freshman for a couple games a year ago. Senior guard Jared Demmons also returns to play an important role. Plainville has always been know to play a slowed-down, methodical style of basketball and don’t expect anything different this time around. There will be a bit of a learning curve as the major roles of this team will be filled by players with below-average varsity experience. Give this team a little time though, and they have a chance to shock you when February comes around.
2016 Record: 13-10, lost in second round of Class L tournament, lost in first round of CCC tournament
Outlook: Isiah Gaiter was Platt’s rock last season as a sophomore, but times have changed, and Gaiter has transferred to Sacred Heart of the NVL. That leaves a lot of the load on the shoulders of senior Isaiah Jones. Jones is a very capable player as he led the team with 19 points in their first round state win a year ago. With Gaiter gone, he will get a chance to really showcase his skills. Senior Dominic Coitrone and junior Carson Coon will also play important roles along with the rest of the Panthers’ junior class. The CCC is always tough, and Platt will be another one of those “tough” teams that will put up a fight night in and night out.