By: Sam Rubinstein (@_samruby)
After previewing the CCC conference all of last week, we kick off the second week of November with our preview on the ECC conference!
2016 Record: 20-7, lost in quarterfinal of Class M tournament, ECC tournament champions
Outlook: The defending ECC champs lose a very strong senior class including their best player from last year in all state guard, Jimmy Matos. The Bobcats do return seniors Greg Baxter and Paul Chasse, along with junior Reilly Dyer who will have to step up and be x-factors for the team. Bacon Academy is always a tough out in any ECC matchup and this year will be no different. Towards the end of February, you won’t want to see the Bobcats on your schedule.
2016 Record: 13-11, lost in second round of Class L tournament, lost in quarterfinals of ECC tournament
Outlook: East Lyme enjoyed one of the quicker turnarounds in the state last season as they followed up their 1-19 campaign of 2015 with a solid 13-11 season including two playoff wins. The Vikings were led by one of the more exciting, young guns that the CIAC has to offer in sophomore point guard, Dev Ostrowski. As a freshman last winter, Ostrowski made the All ECC team and consistently showed signs of greatness including a 36 points, 11 rebound performance in the Vikings’ OT victory during the first round of the Class L tourney. Senior James Kirby and junior Matt Pascal will also play big roles in the team’s success this year. Watch for East Lyme to be a sleeper out of the ECC.
2016 Record: 12-9, lost in first round of Class L tournament, did not make ECC tournament
Outlook: Fitch had a weird season a year ago in which their coach was fired mid-February and they never really reached their full potential with one of the state’s best players, Eddie Volkertz. Volkertz is gone now, and others will be looked upon to take leadership and scoring roles. Justice Farris will be one of those returners to help guide the Falcons. As a sophomore a year ago, Farris was an ECC Large Division honorable mention selection. He will see the ball in his hands more this year and will have many chances to showcase his skills. Two other junior guards will make Fitch’s front court tough to guard and those two guys are Jalen Benson and Edward Gonzalez.
2016 Record: 15-9, lost in first round of Class S tournament, lost in semifinals of ECC tournament.
Outlook: Griswold made a pretty remarkable run to the conference semifinals last year including a win over a very good program in Waterford. Their showing in state tournament didn’t go as well as they were upset by East Hampton in the first round by 16 points. They lose a solid group of seniors from last winter but they also return a young bunch that will look to continue last year’s success. Senior Nate Tedeschi will move into a starting role after playing as an important role man last season. Jared Strmiska is another senior returning that has solid varsity experience to help the Wolverines.
2016 Record: 7-14, lost in first round of Class M tournament, did not make ECC tournament
Outlook: In the past four seasons dating back to 2013, Killingly has won seven, seven, eight, and seven games respectively. If Killingly had any chance to get over that hump, it was last season when they had a strong group of experienced seniors. Unfortunately they plateaued at seven wins again and faced an early state tournament exit to Sacred Heart. Every setback has a major come back though, and the Redmen return senior Jared Gosper, junior Alex Fontaine, and sophomore Luke Desaulnier. These three will look to lead their team to the school’s first double digit win mark in since 2010.
2016 Record: 19-5, lost in second round of Class LL tournament, lost in semifinals of ECC tournament
Outlook: Ledyard has consistently been one of the top programs in the ECC these past several years and this time it is no different. The Colonels have a chance to be as good, if not better than last year and are one of the favorites to win the ECC. They bring back one of the top players in the league with senior Isaiah McNair. McNair was an all conference selection a season ago where he averaged 16.6 ppg and 5.2 rpg. Steven Fletcher was also an all conference selection as a junior a year ago and will be tough to stop as a compliment to McNair. Rising sophomore Ken Turner is one of the more promising players in the conference, look for him to step into a big role this winter.
2016 Record: 10-12, lost in first round of Class S tournament, lost in first round of ECC tournament
Outlook: The Bulldogs have a good group of returners from last year’s team that qualified for both the Class S and ECC tournament. Junior David Lopez was an all conference selection a season ago, and he will again be relied upon to put the ball in the hoop. Senior Hunter Hayman is also back and will be another go-to-guy. Watch for Lyman Memorial to reach that .500 mark this winter and possibly pull off a few upsets come playoff time.
2016 Record: 4-16, did not make Class M tournament, did not make ECC tournament
Outlook: Mohegan Sun might only be about 5 miles from Montville, but the past two years, it seems like its been a lot farther. The Indians have struggled the past two season, only racking up 9 total wins with 31 losses. As they continue the process of getting back to postseason play, a young core of player will be looked to lead the charge. Junior Eric Beavin is one of the more promising of the group. The 6’2 forward is undersized a bit, but still figured out a way to post several double-doubles a year ago. Senior Gilbert Calash is an experienced varsity player who will be important to the team’s success also.
2016 Record: 15-10, lost in first round of Class L tournament, lost in ECC championship
Outlook: New London had a stellar playoff run last year where every game came down the wire. Out of the five postseason games played, three of them were decided by five points or less. One of those three was the ECC final in which they lost to Bacon Academy. The Whalers will be coming back strong looking to take back the conference crown that they won in 2015. Senior D. Major Roman, Yale football commit, is a beast down low and will be a tough cover for anyone he matches up with. He was a Second Team Class L selection a year ago. Junior point guard Gio Lopez is one of the more underrated guards in the league and he returns to run the show again. Seniors Melquan Gomez and Nakwon Keith are also back and will be main components to getting the Whalers back to championship status.
Norwich Free Academy
2016 Record: 11-11, lost in first round of Class LL tournament, lost in first round of ECC tournament
Outlook: Last year’s NFA squad ended on a bad note losing to Simsbury in the first round of the Class LL tournament where they only managed a total of 26 points. Though the Wildcats lose a few important seniors from a year ago, they bring back most of their roster including rising junior Seth Thomas. The 6’3 wing was an all conference selection last winter and has the potential to be a top player in the ECC eventually. He will be a name to look out for as we get the season going. Sophomore Jalen Graham is another young Wildcat to look out for. As a freshman, Graham had multiple games of double digit scoring and will be even more of a threat this time around. Senior big man Christian Brown is a veteran on this roster that will control the paint. NFA is one of the more exciting teams across the state and can be a legitimate contender in this conference.
2016 Record: 12-11, lost in second round of Class M tournament, lost in first round of ECC tournament
Outlook: Plainfield enjoyed a solid season a year ago where they qualified for the playoffs and finished over .500. The Panthers lose four of their five starters from last winter, so many guys who were in supporting roles last year will have to step up and take on more responsibility. Senior Eli Malbouef is the lone returning starter and will have the most experience on the roster. Juniors Chris Peasly and Jarvin Alday, alon with sophomore Markeith Conyers will lead the Panther youth.
2016 Record: 12-11, lost in first round of Class S tournament, lost in quarterfinals of ECC tournament
Outlook: The brother combination over at Saint Bernard was a great story line in the ECC last year as John Vogt controlled down low while Sam Vogt operated on the perimeter. Times have changed though, and John is gone to graduation, while Sam is back for his sophomore season. Averaging double digits is impressive enough, but to do it as a freshman on a playoff-qualifying team is something else; Vogt will be a player to look out for in the next few years. Junior guard Connor Svab also returns and will play a big role for the Saints. Saint Bernard will be young this year but will have the capability to sneak into the Class S tournament and make a bit of a run.
2016 Record: 9-13, lost in first round of Class M tournament, lost in first round of ECC tournament
Outlook: The Bears qualified for both the Class M and ECC tournaments a season ago but were bumped out in the first round of both. Only 4 seniors are gone from 2016 but those seniors had big roles including Amadi White and Bobby Atkins who were the foundation of that roster. Senior Matt Schmeelk returns after not being able to play in the final game of last year’s schedule. The 6’3 forward averaged 9.7 points and 6.3 rebounds per game as a junior and he will be asked to do a bit more this winter. The junior duo of Lennox Deer and Ben Dellacono will be asked to step up this season, along with sophomore guard RJ Parrilla.
2016 Record: 5-15, did not make Class S tournament, did not make ECC tournament
Outlook: After an 0-20 season in 2015, reaching the 5 win mark was a step forward for this Tourtellotte program. Evan Ware is back for his senior season and will be the Tigers main scorer. He was a captain as a junior and has been a varsity player for quite some time now. Junior forward Jackson Padula returns and will hope to build on the solid sophomore season that he had last year. Michael Falco’s experience and low post presence will also help the Tigers as they look to make it back to postseason play.
2016 Record: 18-5, lost in second round of Class M tournament, lost in quarterfinals of ECC tournament
Outlook: Waterford enjoyed an amazing regular season where they won 17 games, but faltered in the postseason when they were upset in both the Class M and ECC tournaments by lower seeds. Junior guard Mike Buscetto is poised for a great year after a solid sophomore showing. He scored 15 points in the final game of the year for the Lancers last season. Senior big man Jeff Evans also returns and will be a rock down low that will need to control the board and protect the rim at a high level. Waterford hopes to not only win a lot during the regular season, but also make a run in the playoffs and contend for the ECC title.
2016 Record: 5-15, did not make Class S tournament, did not make ECC tournament
Outlook: After a .500 season in 2015, Wheeler took a step back with a 5-15 campaign in 2016. Losing a 1000 point scorer in Mike Dellaporta and do it all big man Alex Haines doesn’t make things easy, but now senior Ryan Dussault steps into that spotlight be the go-to-guy for the Lions. Dussalt, a starter since sophomore year, can score and crash the boards consistently which makes him a constant threat. Seniors Dylan Wilkinson and Chris Munzer return and will play important roles. The Lions may not be the best team in the ECC, but they aren’t a team to sleep on night in and night out.
2016 Record: 14-9, lost in second round of Class M tournament, lost in first round of ECC tournament
Outlook: Mekhi Warren started off his career at Maloney High School in Meriden, but transferred to Windham for his sophomore season. Last season, Warren proved he could be one of the more underrated players in this conference. The 6’4 junior is super athletic and has the ability to take over games. He will be a main reason Windham makes a little noise again in the ECC this year. Senior guard Willie Brown also returns and will be an important piece for the Whippets.
2016 Record: 5-15, did not make Class LL tournament, did not make ECC tournament
Outlook: Outlook: It’s been three years since the Centaurs won the Class L title, but times have changed, and the program hasn’t seen the playoffs since 2014. Things are looking up though. Woodstock brings back a huge senior class of 9 players, headed by 6’4 forward, Sam Majek. Majek put together multiple double-doubles last season and will certainly do the same this year. Other notable senior returners are Nick Short, Patrick Houlihan, and Quinn Stevenson. Watch for Woodstock to get back on the map in 2017!