2022 CIAC boys basketball conference tournament capsules and predictions

Here’s a breakdown of the 2022 boys basketball conference tournaments:

BERKSHIRE

DATES: Quarterfinals, Saturday, Feb. 26, at Nonnewaug; Semifinals, Tuesday, March 1, at Nonnewaug; Final, Friday, March 4 at Nonnewaug, 6 p.m.

DEFENDING CHAMPION: Terryville

TOP PLAYERS: Dominick Dao, Terryville, Sr., G; Jake Rinkavage, Terryville, Sr., F; Daniel Dieck, Litchfield, Sr., G;; Dylan Chung, Nonnewaug, Jr., F; Charley Coffey, Wamogo, Sr., G.

FAVORITES: Terryville, Wamogo

DARK HORSES: Nonnewaug

OUTLOOK: Terryville upended Shepaug Valley in last year’s final behind Dao’s 24 points, then a career-high for him. Since then,, Dao has put up games of 51, 46 and 43 points and is averaging over 32 per game to become the Berskire’s top player. The Kangaroos’ only loss came out of league to SMSA. It’s reminiscent of the days Wamogo dominated the Berkshire. Wamogo is the second seed, it’s only two league losses are to Terryville.

MORELLI’S PICKS: Quarterfinal winners: Terryville, Nonnewaug, Northwestern, Wamogo.

Semifinal winners: Terryville, Wamogo.

Champion: Terryville repeats.

CCC

DATES: First round, Thursday, Feb. 24 at higher seed; Quarterfinals Saturday, Feb. 26, at Enfield; Semifinals, Tuesday, March 1, at Enfield, 6 and 8 p.m.; Final, Thursday, March 3, at Enfield, 7 p.m.

DEFENDING CHAMPION: Bristol Central

TOP PLAYERS: Donovan Clingan, Bristol Central, Sr., C; Matty Curtis, Northwest Catholic, Sr., G; Hayden Abdullah, Northwest Catholic, Sr., F; Tyler Betsey, Windsor, So., F; Quintin Floyd, Windsor, So., G; James Jones, East Catholic,. Jr., F; Riley Fox, Conard, So., G

FAVORITES: Bristol Central, Northwest Catholic, Windsor

DARK HORSES: East Catholic, Farmington

OUTLOOK: Bristol Central won the championship division of the league tournament last year, winning at East Catholic in the final in overtime to finish No. 1 in the GameTimeCT poll, where the Rams have remained all season, only one of two teams to complete an undefeated regular season. In fact, Bristol Central’s last loss came to East Catholic in the 2020 CCC tournament quarterfinals. Northwest Catholic is the No. 2 seed and No. 2 in the poll, so a collision course could be the case. But the CCC is deep with Windsor, Conard, Farmington and East Catholic lurking in the bracket.

MORELLI’S PICKS: First round winners: Bristol Central, Farmington, Windsor, Platt, Conard, Bloomfield, East Catholic, Northwest Catholic.

Quarterfinal winners: Bristol Central, Windsor, Conard, Northwest Catholic.

Semifinal winners: Bristol Central, Northwest Catholic

Champion: Been going back and forth on this pick for weeks. In the first meeting of the season between the state’s top two teams, Bristol Central prevails in overtime.

CRAL

DATES: First round, Thursday, Feb. 24 at higher seed; Semifinals, Saturday, Feb. 26, at higher seed; Final, Tuesday, March 1, at higher seed

DEFENDING CHAMPION: Capital Prep

TOP PLAYERS: Keyshawn Mitchell, Capital Prep, Sr., G/F; Quincy Ferguson, Capital Prep, Sr., G; Elijah Graig, Capital Prep, Sr., G; Deivone Tanksley, Achievement First, Sr., G/F; Isaiah Waring, Classical Magnet, Jr., G

FAVORITES: Capital Prep, Weaver

DARK HORSES: Classical Magnet

OUTLOOK: Capital Prep made its first year in the CRAL a banner one in 2021, going undefeated and snapping Innovation’s three-year stranglehold on the title. Now it is the Trailblazers’ time to defend the title. They went undefeated yet again in the league, capped by a 91-70 victory over Weaver. Graig scored 42 points in the game. Mitchell is averaging over 20 rebounds per game and has been the best player in the league. Capital Prep will be very difficult to beat.

MORELLI’S PICKS: First round winners: Achievement First and Classical Magnet

Semifinal winners: Capital Prep, Weaver

Champion: Capital Prep goes undefeated in the CRAL for the second straight year.

CTC

DATES: Quarterfinals, Monday, Feb. 28, at higher seed; Semifinals, Tuesday, March 1, at higher seed; Final, Thursday, March 3, at Abbott Tech

DEFENDING CHAMPION: Prince Tech

TOP PLAYERS: Dajon Nelson, Prince Tech, Sr., G; Jordan Jackson, Prince Tech, So., G; Joey Johnson, Windham Tech, Sr., F; .Tony Aversano, Abbott Tech, Sr., G; Carlos Madera, Abbott Tech, Sr., G; LJ Wade, Platt Tech, Jr., G

FAVORITES: Prince Tech, Abbott Tech

DARK HORSES: Windham Tech

OUTLOOK: Prince Tech may not have been the dominant force over the past two years, but was still dominant enough in the league to go unbeaten. But Prince Tech did not play Abbott Tech this season. Abbott Tech also went unbeaten in the CTC and earned the No. 1 seed. It also hosts the championship final on March 3. But it is Prince Tech going for its fifth consecutive league championship.

MORELLI’S PICKS: Quarterfinal winners: Abbott Tech, Platt Tech, Prince Tech, Windham Tech.

Semifinal winners: Abbott Tech, Prince Tech.

Champion: Abbott Tech dethrones Prince Tech on its home floor.

ECC

DATES: Quarterfinals, Thursday, Feb. 24, at higher seed; Semifinals, Saturday, Feb. 26, at Plainfield, 11 a.m. (Division I) and 1 p.m. (Division II); Final, Tuesday, March 1 at Mohegan Sun Arena, 6 (Division II) and 8 p.m. (Division I).

DEFENDING CHAMPIONS: Norwich Free Academy (South Division) and Woodstock Academy (North Division)

TOP PLAYERS: Rhodia Perry, New London, Sr., G; Nazir Rembert, Norwich Free Academy, So., G; Tony Williams, Norwich Free Academy, So., G; Tyson Wheeler Jr., St. Bernard, Jr., G; Cedrick Similien, St. Bernard, Jr., G/F; Yaniel Hernandez, Fitch, Sr., G; Sean O’Connell, Waterford, Sr., F.; Doran White, Stonington, Sr., G/F

FAVORITES: St. Bernard, NFA, New London, Stonington

DARK HORSES: Waterford, East Lyme

OUTLOOK: It’s back to Division I and II after the league went North and South last year to keep teams closer to home. Stonington has won 12 straight heading into the postseason and its only two state losses were in overtime to St. Bernard and New London, respectively. So it won’t be easy to beat the bears in Division II. St. Bernard earned the top seed in Division I and New London swept the season series from NFA to earn the 2 seed. Division I is stacked.

MORELLI’S PICKS: Quarterfinal winners: Division II: Stonington, Killingly, Windham, Griswold; Division I: St. Bernard, Waterford, New London, NFA.

Semifinal winners: Division II: Stonington, Windham; Division I: St. Bernard, NFA.

Champions: Division II: Stonington; Division I: St. Bernard.

FCIAC

DATES: Quarterfinals, Saturday, Feb. 26, at Fairfield Warde; Semifinals, Tuesday, March 1, at Wilton, 6 and 7:45 p.m.; Final, Thursday, March 3 at Wilton, 7 p.m.

DEFENDING CHAMPION: Ridgefield

TOP PLAYERS: Dylan Veillette, Ridgefield, So. C; Matt Knachel, Ridgefield, Sr., G; Will Sydnor, St. Joseph, Jr., F; Derek Long, St. Joseph, Sr., G; JeySon Slade, Westhill, Sr., G; Justyn Davis, Fairfield Warde, Sr., G; Kevin Hyzy, Wilton, Sr,. G

FAVORITES: Ridgefield, Wilton, St. Joseph

DARK HORSES: Westhill

OUTLOOK: Ridgefield is going for an unprecedented fourth consecutive league championship and fifth in the past six seasons. The Tigers had just one league loss, to St. Joseph, and two overall (the other coming against Windsor). Wilton won its final five regular-season games after being blitzed by Ridgefield on Feb. 11. St. Joseph has won nine straight heading into Saturday’s quarterfinals. Warde gave Ridgefield a battle as well. So the road to another FCIAC crown will not be easy for the Tigers.

MORELLI’S PICKS: Quarterfinal winners: Ridgefield, Fairfield Warde, St. Joseph, Wilton

Semifinal winners: Ridgefield, St. Joseph.

Champion: Ridgefield prevails in overtime.

NCCC

DATES: Quarterfinals, Monday, Feb. 28, at higher seed; Semifinals, Wednesday, March 2, at higher seed; Final, Friday, March 4 at higher seed, 6 p.m.

DEFENDING CHAMPION: SMSA

TOP PLAYERS: King Shaw, SMSA,Jr., G; Kemani Thompson, SMSA, Sr., G; Isaiah Reece, Canton, Sr., G. Justin Phillips, Granby, Sr., G

FAVORITES: SMSA, Granby

DARK HORSES: Canton

OUTLOOK: SMSA will be coming off a pair of non-conference losses to Stonington and East Hampton, respectively. SMSA actually went 5-4 in the month of February after winning its first 11 games. So the defense of the NCCC title won’t be an easy one with Granby, Suffield and Canton among the teams looking to dethrone SMSA.

MORELLI’S PICKS: Quarterfinal winners: SMSA, Canton, Ellington, Granby.

Semifinal winners: SMSA, Granby.

Champion. Granby

NVL

DATES: Quarterfinals, Saturday, Feb. 26, at Wilby; Semifinals, Monday, Feb. 28, at Wilby; Final, Wednesday, March 2 at Wilby, 7 p.m.

DEFENDING CHAMPION: Sacred Heart

TOP PLAYERS: Ese Onakpoma, Naugatuck, Sr., G; Avery Hinnant, Naugatuck, Sr., C; , Jonathan Rivera, Crosby, Sr., G; Jason Canady, WCA, Jr., G; Dayven Zielinski , Kennedy, Sr., G; Jamie Leggett, St. Paul, Jr., G

FAVORITES: Naugatuck, Kennedy

DARK HORSES: Crosby, Holy Cross

OUTLOOK: Naugatuck is hoping to win its second league championship in the past three seasons. The Greyhounds advanced to last year’s championship game, but fell to Sacred Heart in its final run to a title before the school closed last June. The Greyhounds went undefeated and only played to games in single digits, which speaks to how dominant they have been.

MORELLI’S PICKS: Quarterfinal winners: Naugatuck, Holy Cross, Crosby, Kennedy.

Semifinal winners: Naugatuck, Crosby.

Champions: Naugatuck runs the table in the NVL.

SHORELINE

DATES: Quarterfinals, Saturday, Feb. 26, at higher seed; Semifinals, Tuesday, March 1, at higher seed; Final, Friday, March 4 at Polson Middle School, Madison, 7 p.m.

DEFENDING CHAMPION: Morgan

TOP PLAYERS: Gianluca Albert, Cromwell, Sr., G; Victor Payne, Cromwell, So., F; Alex Fratamico, Morgan, Sr., F; Loudon Chupas, Hale-Ray, Sr., F; Aaron Tolve, Old Saybrook, Jr., F

FAVORITES: Cromwell, Morgan

DARK HORSES: Valley Regional, East Hampton, Hale-Ray

OUTLOOK: It took until game No. 18 for Cromwell to lose its first game, at Morgan, three days after beating the Huskies on its home floor. Cromwell has been dominant behind Albert and Payne. The Panthers have played only two games in single digits: 47-45 at East Hampton and the 38-35 loss to Morgan, which went undefeated in the Shoreline last season. Morgan beat Valley Regional in that final, and the two teams square off in the quarterfinals on Saturday.

MORELLI’S PICKS: Quarterfinal winners: Cromwell, Hale-Ray, Morgan, Old Saybrook

Semifinal winners: Cromwell, Morgan.

Champion: Cromwell.

SWC

DATES: Quarterfinals, Friday, Feb. 25, at higher seed, 7 p.m.; Semifinals, Tuesday, March 1, at higher seed, 7 p.m.; Final, Friday, March 4 at site TBA, 7 p.m.

DEFENDING CHAMPION: Notre Dame-Fairfield

TOP PLAYERS: Ty Santos, Kolbe Cathedral, Sr., G; Finn Miller, Notre Dame-Fairfield, Jr., G; Bailey Coleman, Notre Dame, Jr., F; Najimi George, Kolbe Cathedral, So., G; Jayquan Kirkland, Stratford, Sr., G; Lorenzo Almonte, Bethel, Sr., F; Isaiah Williams, Newtown, Sr., G/F

FAVORITES: Notre Dame, Kolbe Cathedral

DARK HORSES: Immaculate, Newtown

OUTLOOK: Can any team prevent a Notre Dame-Kolbe Cathedral rematch? Notre Dame struggled early in the season, but went undefeated in league play to earn the top seed. Kolbe’s only two losses are to Notre Dame and Ridgefield — both coming on the road. So it will be heard to win at the Shehan Center in Bridgeport for opponents. Stratford could get a second straight chance against Kolbe in the semifinals while Immaculate hosting Newtown is an intriguing quarterfinal.

MORELLI’S PICKS: Quarterfinal winners: Notre Dame, Immaculate, Kolbe, Stratford.

Semifinal winners: Notre Dame, Kolbe.

Champions: Kolbe wins its second crown in the past three seasons, this one in the final seconds against Notre Dame.

SCC

DATES: First round, Feb. 24, at higher seed; Quarterfinals, Saturday, Feb. 26, at higher seed, noon; Semifinals, Monday, Feb. 28, at Floyd Little Athletic Center, New Haven, 6 and 7:45 p;.m.; Final, Wednesday, March 2 at Floyd Little Athletic Center, New Haven, 7 p.m.

DEFENDING CHAMPION: West Haven

TOP PLAYERS: Christian McClease, Wilbur Cross, Jr., G; Fredo Delgado, Wilbur Cross, Jr., G; Mekhi Conner, Notre Dame-West Haven, Jr., G; Timaury Gay, Notre Dame, Jr., G; Jake Palluzzi, Branford, So., G; Tyler Favre, Hand, Sr., F; Max Manjos, Fairfield Prep, Sr., G

FAVORITES: Notre Dame-West Haven, Fairfield Prep, Hand

DARK HORSES: West Haven, Wilbur Cross

OUTLOOK: Notre Dame went undefeated in league play and the Green Knights hope to reach their fourth consecutive final, yet are still searching for their first championship. Fairfield Prep’s only league loss was to West Haven, the reigning champion. Hand has been lurking on the outskirts of the top 10 for a portion of the season and is also looking for its first league title.

MORELLI’S PICKS: First round: Hillhouse, Branford, West Haven, Wilbur Cross, Hand, Amity

Quarterfinal winners: Notre Dame, West Haven, Hand, Wilbur Cross.

Semifinal winners: Notre Dame, Hand.

Champions: The pressure is squarely on the Green Knights to finally win a league championship. They come through this time.

—Joe Morelli