A pair of rematches highlight ECC boys' basketball semis tonight

Ledyard High School failed to reach the Eastern Connecticut Conference boys' basketball tournament final - a placed it expected to be - a year ago.

New London, on the other hand, has made the ECC final an old, familiar place.

Ledyard and New London will each try to reach the title game tonight when the ECC semifinals take place at Waterford High School.

Second-seeded New London — the six-time defending champion — plays No. 3 Woodstock Academy at 5:30 p.m. in the first semifinal. Top-seeded Ledyard plays No. 4 Norwich Free Academy for the third time this season in the second game at 7:30.

Both games will be livestreamed on www.theday.com starting with a pregame show at 5:15 p.m.

Ledyard (18-3) was the top seed in last year's tournament, but lost to NFA in the semifinals (57-49).

Colonels coach Dave Cornish made sure to remind his players about that loss.

"Yes, we did," Cornish said. "I told them that the first two games we played against Norwich (during this regular season) meant nothing. They knocked us out last year.

"The regular season (wins) were nice, but this is the most important game."

The Colonels beat NFA 63-41 (Jan. 9) and 58-52 (Feb. 11).

"We played our game in the beginning and raced out to a lead (in the first game), Cornish said. "The second game, we had to fight our way back, fight through foul trouble. They slowed down the game and we allowed it. That's what we can't allow (tonight). We can win that way, we proved that … We play in the 40-to-50 (point) range, that gives them more of shot."

Cornish said that post Darnay Gray will play tonight. He's missed the previous four games after injuring his shoulder in a car accident.

The Wildcats (16-6) advanced to today's game in wild fashion.

Marcus Outlow nailed a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give NFA a 39-36 win over Waterford in Saturday's quarterfinals.

New London (18-3) has played in 10 straight ECC finals and won eight. Coach Craig Parker has always put an emphasis on state titles, but the Whalers still value their league titles.

"The ECC (championship) is significant in its own way, but it's certainly not as significant as a state championship," Parker said.

"Nevertheless, it's a goal to shoot for prior to the state tournament. That's what we're trying to do. We want to keep practicing and playing and having meaningful games before the state tournament."

It's the second straight season that New London has played Woodstock (17-4) in the semifinals. The Whalers beat the Centaurs last season, Woodstock's last loss before going on its memorable run to the CIAC Class L championship.

"They're similar to last year's Woodstock team," Parker said. "They have a quality point guard (Chris Lowry), and everything runs through him."

The Whalers would welcome another strong shooting night by guard Collin Sawyer, who scored 37 points in New London's 92-79 quarterfinal win over Tourtellotte on Saturday at St. Bernard.

n.griffen@theday.com

ECC Tournament

At Waterford

Today's Games

Semifinals

No. 2 New London vs. No. 3 Woodstock, 5:30 p.m.

No. 1 Ledyard vs. No. 4 NFA, 7:30 p.m.

Friday's Game

Final

Semifinal winners, 7 p.m.

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