The boys basketball state tournament tips off next week and area teams learned their postseason path to Mohegan Sun Arena on Wednesday.
Three of the four Bristol area schools will send teams to tournaments: Bristol Eastern, St. Paul and Terryville. All three will likely be on the road throughout the tournament.
In Division III, No. 20 St. Paul (9-11) travels to No. 13 West Haven (12-8) with a 7 p.m. tip Tuesday. The Falcons would face No. 4 Wilcox Tech (16-4) in the second round Thursday.
“Looking at the tournament, there are a significant number of tough outs throughout Division III,” Falcons coach Steve Phelps said. “Some guys have the luxury to look all the way through the bracket and make assessments of whether it’s a good draw or a bad draw. From our perspective, I don’t have that luxury. We’ll grind it out as we have been all year and prepare for that one on Tuesday and not look too much further ahead. We can’t afford it.”
Phelps praised his team, which graduated a handful of starters who went on to play for college programs this year, for overcoming some adversity throughout the season.
Tyler Garry, last year’s sixth man who was expected to have a breakout senior season, fell awkwardly 10 minutes into the second day of preseason try-outs and fractured his wrist. Garry missed the first 12 games of the season and is just now getting himself back into shape.
Also, guard Kevin Ashworth missed 11 days of school due to illness and is starting to gain some strength back.
“We don’t make excuses. We didn’t talk about it during the year,” Phelps said. “Our guys just went about their business and grinded it out, and we did the best we could do with what we had coming back. Our seniors have been tremendous leadership-wise and sacrifice-wise, and guys have all chipped in.
“To qualify for the postseason, there’s a degree of satisfaction, if you will, but our standards are set a little bit higher. But I’m proud of this group and what they’ve accomplished in the regular season. But once you’re in, you wanna make noise. We’re certainly not just happy to be here.”
Also in Division III, No. 23 seed Bristol Central (8-12) visits No. 10 New Milford (14-6) at 7 p.m. Tuesday. With a win, the Rams would face No. 7 East Lyme (14-6) in the second round on Thursday.
No. 1 Wamogo (20-0), No. 2 Prince Tech (18-2), No. 3 Farmington (17-3) earned the division’s top seeds.
If Bristol Central makes a run to the quarterfinals, a meeting with No. 7 East Lyme might await, while St. Paul could face No. 5 Torrington (15-5), with both quarterfinal matchups set for March 11. The Falcons could also meet No. 8 Berlin (14-6) in the semifinals March 13.
Bristol Central and St. Paul would not face each other until the state championship game March 16 or 17.
In Division V, No. 22 Terryville (8-12) plays at No. 11 Bullard-Havens (12-8) with a 7 p.m. tip on Tuesday. The Kangaroos would face No. 6 Morgan (14-6) or No. 27 Haddam-Killingworth (8-12) on Thursday in the second round.
Zack Carpenter can be reached at (860) 973-1811 or firstname.lastname@example.org