MERIDEN — Is it OK to reference “Bull Durham” outside of baseball season?
Good. Because this second week of February is, in the word of Nuke LaLoosh, a humdinger.
It opens Monday night with rivalry basketball games in Wallingford and Meriden. It closes Saturday night with rivalry hockey at Northford Ice Pavilion.
In between, the area’s top wrestlers and indoor track athletes will chase state championships, the area’s two hottest basketball teams will go head to head and there’s a good chance Meriden’s all-time basketball scoring record will be broken.
In the midst of it all is Valentine’s Day. (Candlesticks make a nice gift.)
Let’s take it from the top. Monday will be wall to wall basketball. While the Platt and Maloney girls tangle on the West Side, Lyman Hall and Sheehan will double up on Hope Hill Road.
The Meriden game looms as the season finale for the Panthers (4-15), who look like they’ll fall short of the 32-team CIAC Class L tournament on power points even if they win. The Spartans (3-15) finish up on Wednesday against Wilcox Tech.
At Sheehan, the girls play the Wallingford twinbill opener at 5 p.m. Both the Class L Trojans (9-10) and Class M Titans (13-6) have locked up state and SCC tourney berths, so this baby is for sheer bragging rights. (Sheehan took the first round, 50-42.)
In another corner of the SCC girls basketball universe Monday, Cheshire (7-12) will wrap up the regular season at Sacred Heart Academy. The Rams have are in good shape to be among the top 32 in Class LL, but need to win Monday to make the conference tournament, which opens Thursday and continues with quarterfinal games at Sheehan on Saturday.
Here another neat tidbit. The area’s three 1,000-point girls scorers, who reached their career milestones within nine days of each other last month, are locked in a scoring race separated by five points:
■Liv Robles, Sheehan 307.Kailey Lipka, Lyman Hall 306.Mia Juodaitis, Cheshire 302.
Among the boys, there is no scoring race. Wilcox Tech’s Dejuan Ransom stands head and shoulders above the crowd with 478 points in 16 games. That’s 29.875 points a night.
Given that average, it is well within the realm of possibility that Ransom will break Meriden’s all-time scoring record at home Thursday night against O’Brien Tech. Ransom is 30 career points shy of the 1,984 scored by Wilcox Tech predecessor Roosevelt Shider between 2010 and 2014.
Ransom and the Indians are also looking to shore up their standing for the postseason. At 12-4, Wilcox ranks No. 2 in the Constitution State Conference and No. 5 in CIAC Division III.
The Indians have won five straight. They are not, however, the hottest area team. They are not even the second-hottest area team.
That distinction is shared by Cheshire and Southington. Both squads head into the week at 11-6 riding seven-game winning streaks. Better, they square off in Cheshire on Friday night at 6:45.
Friday also marks the start of the CIAC divisional wrestling tournaments. Class LL Southington will be in Trumbull, Class L Maloney at Bristol Central and Class M Platt at Guilford.
With the graduation of Platt’s Ben Stratton and Maloney’s Demetre Carnot, and an injury to Southington senior Paul Calo, there are no defending area champs in the mix. There are plenty of contenders, starting with Platt junior 120-pounder James Rondini, who racked up career victory No. 100 last Wednesday in the rivalry match with Maloney.
In indoor track, the area’s best return to the Floyd Little Athletic Center in New Haven one last time this winter for the State Open at high noon on Saturday. In the vanguard is Trinity Cardillo. The Southington junior claimed the area’s lone divisional crown this past weekend by capturing the shot put in Class LL.
By Saturday night, the State Open track championships will be decided, just in time for the opening face-off between Sheehan and the Lyman Hall Co-op at the Northford Ice Pavilion at 8 p.m.
The Trojans won the first go-round 3-0 on Jan. 26 at Wesleyan. This Saturday’s meeting, while highly anticipated, probably won’t be the last of 2018-19 between the rivals. LH is No. 2 in the CIAC Division III playoff rankings at 12-4-0. Sheehan is No. 3 at 12-4-1.
It doesn’t require Crash Davis insight to see future collisions in the conference and state tournaments.
For now, the Titans are just looking to even the score in a rivalry series always worth the price of admission.
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