Winter sports teams have officially begun practices this week, coming together in person for the first time since 2020 state tournaments were shut down last March as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, and the schedules for the shortened season are starting to take shape.
Schedules are being released through the CIAC website, with basketball games being made up of almost entirely night games, and similar regionalized opponents like what was put together for the fall season.
The boys swimming season has also released the majority of its schedule, with almost all of its meets taking place in the afternoon. The boys ice hockey season, which brings additional complications due to co-op teams and limited venue availability, is still being put together by coaches and athletic directors across the state.
On the hardwood, the Bristol Eastern and Bristol Central boys and girls basketball teams will hold both rivalry bouts on the same days, with the boys first clashing at Eastern on Feb. 12 before moving to Central on March 11. The girls teams will play on the same days at opposite venues.
The Rams’ boys team opens the season at home against Avon on Tuesday, Feb. 9 at 6:45 p.m. That starting time will be the same for every game of Central’s season, as well as every other area basketball team within the Central Connecticut Conference.
The Lancers start their season at home as well, hosting Farmington on Feb. 9. The girls teams open at the same time against the same opponents, but on the road.
New Britain boys open the season on Feb. 9 at home against Southington, a team it will scrimmage on Jan. 30 at noon. The Hurricanes play Eastern and Central twice this season, both on back-to-back nights, including ending the season against the Rams on March 15 and the Lancers on March 18.
New Britain, Bristol Eastern, Bristol Central, Southington and Plainville all make up part of one regionalized pod as the schools did in the fall. The region also includes Lewis Mills, Avon and Farmington.
On the girls side, the Hurricanes open Beryl Piper’s second tenure as head coach on Feb. 9 against Southington on the road. Piper’s first home game back as head coach will be against Lewis Mills on Feb. 12.
Berlin and Newington are in their own region, and the boys teams open the season against one another on Feb. 8, the first official day that winter competition can begin. The game will tip off at Berlin at 6:45 p.m. Newington’s home opener is scheduled for Feb. 11 against rival Wethersfield. The other teams in that region include Platt, Maloney, Bulkeley, Rocky Hill and Middletown.
The Berlin and Newington girls teams, both state championship hopefuls last season, open the season against each other as well, on Feb. 8 at Newington. Both teams will have to replace their starting point guards in Lyzi Litwinko and Ashanti Frazier, both 1,000-point scorers.
Over in the CRAL, basketball schedules are still being put together, per Commissioner Jon Winer, leaving Innovation without a set start date for the regular season as of now. But Winer is hopeful that teams will be able to begin their seasons on Feb. 9 or possibly Feb. 11.
Staying in the Hardware City, Goodwin Tech boys basketball opens its season on the road against Vinal Tech on Feb. 9 at 5:30 p.m., and plays its home opener a week later against Cheney Tech, also at 5:30 p.m. The girls team opens at home against Vinal Tech at 4 p.m. on Feb. 9, and every game for the Gladiators is scheduled for a 4 p.m. tip until their season finale on March 12 against Wilcox Tech, which is slated to start at 5:30 p.m.
In the NVL, schedules are still being ironed out, so St. Paul will await its start date, while over at Terryville, the Kangaroos boys and girls basketball teams have just five games on the schedule as of now, all on the road. The girls’ first listed game is Feb. 24 at Housatonic Regional at 5:30 p.m., while the boys have a Feb. 8 game against Northwestern scheduled for 7 p.m.
On the swimming side, the always competitive Southington boys swim team opens its season on Feb. 10 against Middletown at home at 3:45 p.m. The Blue Knights have seven meets on the schedule, including road contests against the Bristol co-op on March 3 and Plainville to close the season on March 17. All start times for Southington are set for 3:45 p.m., save for a 7 p.m. meet against Lewis Mills on March 6.
Bristol also opens its season on Feb. 10, taking on Farmington at home. Each meet this season will start at 3:45 p.m.
Plainville begins the season on the road against Avon on Feb. 13 at 2:30 p.m., and has its first home meet against Middletown on Feb. 24 at 4 p.m.
Berlin has five meets on the schedule, beginning on Feb. 9 against Wethersfield at home at 3:45 p.m. The Redcoats also host Newington at the same time on March 9. Newington opens at home on Feb. 9 as well, taking on Hall.
There is currently no gymnastics scheduled listed by the CIAC, although the sport was cleared to begin contests on Feb. 8. Tournament experiences are allowed to begin for basketball, hockey, swimming and gymnastics on March 15 and run through March 28.
Ryan Chichester can be reached at (860) 801-5094 or firstname.lastname@example.org