BRISTOL - With its No. 2 seed and defending champions label, the St. Paul girls basketball team enters NVL tournament play today with major question marks, yet high expectations under successful longtime head coach Joe Mone.
The Falcons play No. 7-seed Wolcott (11-9) today at 4:15 p.m. in the first round of this year’s tournament, hosted by Holy Cross in Waterbury.
“We’re a little depleted injury wise,” St. Paul head coach Joe Mone said. “But we’re going to keep doing what we’ve been doing and playing good defense.”
St. Paul will be without Janessa Gonzalez, Taylor Crawford and Olivia Stump. Emma Cretella is a game-time decision for today’s game.
Catherine Ciampi and Lindsey O’Bright are both back for the Falcons.
The Eagles are led by senior leading scorer Raven Cody.
Holy Cross (18-2) is the No. 1 seed in the tournament.
Naugatuck (17-3) is the No. 3 seed and will face No. 6 Crosby (13-7) in a first round game, with the winner advancing to face the winner of the St. Paul-Wolcott game in the semifinal round on Monday at Kennedy High.
Also in the field are No. 4 Sacred Heart (15-5), No. 5 Seymour (14-6) and No. 8 Waterbury Career (10-10).
Over the past five seasons St. Paul has gone a combined 36-4 in its division while winning five straight divisional titles, including an unbeaten divisional mark in 2014-15, yet last year marked the Falcons’ first NVL Tournament title.
Bristol Eastern girls in state tourney for 24th straight year
The Bristol Eastern girls basketball team just barely got into the Class LL tournament, as Brien McMahon dropped its final three games of the season to open up a spot for the 7-13 Lancers.
Bristol Eastern edged East Hartford (also 7-13) as the only seven-win team in the field based upon power points, gained from strength of schedule.
The CIAC changed its girls basketball tournament format beginning with the 2015-16 season to allow for schools which have won less than 40 percent of their games to qualify if there are not enough schools above that mark to fill a 32-team field.
Yet the Lancers may not last long, as they will take on the dominant New London program in their tournament opener.
As the defending Class LL champion and coming in with a 20-0 record, New London will be the best team put in front of Bristol Eastern all year.
The Lancers continued their stretch of making the tournament each year since 1995.
Bristol swim honors seniors
With recent wins over Plainville and Lewis Mills, the Bristol Eastern boys co-op swim team is currently 7-6 and looking to finish off the season strong.
Brian Collins (St. Paul), Mike Kaminski (Bristol Central) and Keagan Mullan (Bristol Eastern) were all honored during senior night on Thursday against Lewis Mills.
“The coaching staff is proud of several accomplishments today, including the performances and celebration of our three senior athletes on senior night,” Bristol head coach Nick Daddabbo said.
Kaminski and Mullan, two captains, have been standouts for Bristol. Mullan plans on joining the Navy following school.
“Having these finishes helped to propel the team and continue the momentum,” Bristol head coach Nick Daddabbo said. “I really think swimming the way that we swam against Plainville helped us get ready for our meet today and helped with team morale at the right time of the season. That is right before we have conferences and states.”
With the win over the Spartans, Bristol has one meet left in the regular season, Tuesday at Middletown.
Bristol also raised more than $300 as a team for the Coaches vs. Cancer program that the American Cancer Society runs.
Dan Orencole can be reached at or