Inclement weather on Tuesday night and Wednesday afternoon halted boys basketball action throughout the area, offering a time for players to rest and coaches to assess where their teams stand heading into the final weeks of the regular season.
For teams like Bristol Central, which needs three more wins to qualify, things will heat up in a hurry.
Regardless of where teams stand in the state tournament picture, every group has areas they would like to improve upon, whether it be to improve their seeding in the tournament or to make sure they secure enough wins to make an appearance.
BRISTOL CENTRAL: 5-8, seven games remaining
Two straight losses have put a slight dent in the Rams’ playoff push, but a freshmen-heavy group still improving over the course of the season is more than capable of finishing the year with three more wins, though they will have to go through other teams fighting for the same spot as they are.
“We think we have a legit shot,” head coach Tim Barrette said. “We know we’re going to have a battle on our hands. We’re playing a lot of teams that are in the tournament, or just outside as well. Hopefully our maturity level has grown down the stretch with us being so young, and we can make a big push in these next seven games.”
Of all of Barrette’s freshmen, 6-foot-9 center Donovan Clingan will be the most crucial to the team’s tournament hopes, and the big man will have to be a consistent force at the rim and open things up for the Rams’ outside shooters.
BRISTOL EASTERN: 4-9, seven games remaining
Eastern’s glaring necessity is no secret, as the team looks to regroup for one final surge toward the tournament.
Senior Carter Dziedzic has been out with an injury since the new year began, when the Lancers were sitting at 5-2 and riding a four-game winning streak. Since then, the team has dropped seven straight and is scrambling for a solution to its Dziedzic-sized void.
Jahcyrus Bynum has done his best to step up in Dziedzic’s absence, but the Lancers will need someone to step up on the defensive end, or pray that Dziedzic wakes up tomorrow morning and suddenly feels 100 percent. Without him, making the state tournament will be a difficult task.
ST. PAUL: 7-7, six games remaining
The Falcons looked flightless back on Jan. 8, having lost their third straight game in a 68-48 defeat at the hands of Naugatuck. It was also the fifth straight game that the Falcons failed to reach the 50-point mark, as the offense continued to sputter.
Fortunately for St. Paul, the offense, and the team as a whole, has turned the page.
The Falcons have since won three in a row and five of their last six, scoring at least 54 points in every game of that span. The offense has improved, and put the team on the cusp of the tournament, needing just one more win to qualify.
With 1-11 Watertown sandwiched in an otherwise difficult remaining schedule, the Falcons will reach their goal if they take care of business.
TERRYVILLE: 3-9, eight games remaining
The Kangaroos face a monumental hurdle, one that will take quite the leap to overcome. The last two games have seen Terryville outscored by a combined 57 points, most recently falling 51-31 to Nonnewaug.
For the Kangaroos to make the tournament, they’d have to put together a winning streak at some point during their final eight games, something they haven’t done all season to this point.
Terryville will have to improve on the road, where it has recorded just one win this season. Three straight road games in a one-week span await starting Feb. 5, which will likely determine the Kangaroos’ fate.
PLAINVILLE: 6-7, seven games remaining
The Blue Devils were shut down by New Britain last week and will have had a full week of rest before hosting Platt on Thursday night.
An extended rest could be exactly what head coach Jim DiNielli and the Blue Devils needed, as DiNielli knows his group needs every advantage it can get as it prepares to take on multiple tournament hopefuls down the stretch.
“It really comes down to how well we play,” DiNielli said. “Our schedule is going to be challenging. Most of our games so far have been close, so these can go either way. … We’re taking it one game at a time, and hopefully it works out.”
For Plainville to complete its mission, DiNielli needs to see more scoring from his squad, as the Blue Devils managed just 27 points against the Hurricanes after missing their first 12 shots from the field.
“Defensively, we’ve been pretty good,” DiNielli said. “For us it’s about making shots. We have guys that are capable, and they’re going to have to shoot the ball well.”
SOUTHINGTON: 7-6, seven games remaining
After three straight wins, the Blue Knights are on the cusp of the tournament, needing just one more victory over their final seven contests.
Avon, loser of five in a row, awaits on deck on Friday night.
It would be best for Southington to get win number eight out of the way early and spend the final two weeks of the regular season as a tune-up for the tournament.
The Southington defense came up big in its most recent win, allowing just three points in the fourth quarter against South Windsor. If the defense can perform anywhere near that level in the coming weeks, the Blue Knights will be in good shape.