Waterford's boys' basketball state title voted The Day's top local sports story of 2018
It appears to be getting more difficult, this yearly assignment to not merely choose — but rank — the year's top 10 sports stories as covered by The Day's staff. Maybe this is the best indication of a local sports revolution, that perhaps with the outrageous costs of attending professional and college events, we are turning more locally for our sporting fix.
The year 2018 provided quite the menu with teams and individual achievements that made the voting both joyful and challenging. Here are the top 10 stories as voted by The Day's sports staff:
No. 1: Lancer Nation
Waterford High School's boys' basketball team didn't just win Eastern Connecticut Conference and Division III state championships. But the Lancers did so with some panache, playing before crowds in excess of 1,000 seven different times.
They filled the Francis X. Sweeney Fieldhouse twice for games against East Lyme, including the ECC tournament championship game and drew 4,000 in March to Mohegan Sun Arena — lower bowl awash in Lancer blue — for the state championship game on a Sunday morning.
Mikey Buscetto, the charismatic senior guard, set school scoring and assist records along the way as Waterford won its second state title since 2012, dominating Avon in the final, 90-67.
No. 2: My Oh Mya
Mya Johnson, the Connecticut College-bound senior, led the Old Lyme High School girls' soccer team to its fourth straight state championship in November.
This may have been the sweetest for coach Paul Gleason's dynasty because of the opponent in the 2018 championship game: Immaculate of Danbury. The Mustangs thwarted Old Lyme multiple times in previous tournaments. But with the help of Johnson, the program's career scoring leader with 101 goals, Old Lyme prevailed in 2018.
No. 3: Kooky, Dan and Ollie
It was a bizarre year for UConn men's basketball, mostly highlighted by lowlights. The program failed to make the NCAA tournament for the second straight year and fired coach and program alum Kevin Ollie.
Ollie and the university are still embroiled in a controversy about whether UConn owes him $10 million, or whether he was fired for just cause. Meanwhile, UConn hired Dan Hurley, who has injected life into the program, evidenced by a win over Syracuse at Madison Square Garden in November.
No. 4: Jarod: The Galleria of Wrestling
Fitch High School's Jarod Kosman capped a remarkable wrestling career, becoming the fifth four-time champion in Eastern Connecticut Conference history. He followed with Class L, State Open, New England and national championships, later named The Day's 2018 All-Area Wrestler of the Year.
Kosman later signed a National Letter of Intent to continue his career at the University of Maryland and was named as the Connecticut winner of the Dave Schultz High School Excellence Award, given by the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.
The award celebrates the nation's most outstanding high school senior wrestlers for their excellence in wrestling, scholastic achievement, citizenship and community service.
Kosman was 53-0 during the season.
No. 5: Mighty Quinn
Jere Quinn, the heartbeat and conscience of St. Thomas More, won his 1,000th career basketball game Jan. 24 at Worcester Academy.
Quinn's teams have never finished below .500, winning five New England championships and the 2011 National Prep School championship while appearing in two other national title games as well as 16 other New England prep finals.
Quinn has had more than 250 of his players earn college scholarships, has had five play in the NBA, including current Detroit Pistons all-star center Andre Drummond, and more than 50 play professionally either home or abroad.
He was nominated to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2016.
No. 6: Foiled again
The UConn women were beaten in the national semifinals in 2018 the same way they were eliminated in 2017: at the buzzer.
Morgan William and Mississippi State did the honor in Dallas two years ago. And in March at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio, Notre Dame's Arike Ogunbowale ruined UConn's plans at a 12th national championship with a buzzer beater in overtime.
The Huskies were unbeaten heading into that game.
No. 7: Two no-nos? Yes, yes
Waterford High School senior pitcher Mike Burrows pitched consecutive no-hitters in the middle of their baseball season.
Burrows, who led Waterford to the 2017 state title, no-hit NFA and Stonington in back-to-back starts. Later in the spring, he signed a professional contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates, the team that drafted him in the 11th round only two weeks before high school graduation. Burrows received a $500,000 signing bonus with $140,000 more earmarked for his continuing (college) education.
No. 8: Roger: over and out
Roger Bidwell, the face most associated with UConn-Avery Point, retired as the school's athletic director, after spending more than three decades as its baseball coach.
Bidwell was honored with two parties — one at Avery Point in the summer and a roast at Ocean Beach in the fall. During his time at Avery Point, Bidwell sent hundreds of players to four-year colleges and a handful to the majors. Bidwell won more than 1,000 games and sent six teams to the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) World Series. He's an NJCAA Hall of Famer.
No. 9: Fly, Eagles fly
Our region made its first earnest foray into high school hockey, celebrating a state championship with the Eastern Connecticut Eagles, a cooperative of Fitch, East Lyme, Ledyard, Waterford, Wheeler, Stonington, Griswold and Hale-Ray.
The Eagles, 19-3-3 and a year removed from going 4-17, underwent a major transformation, winning the Nutmeg Hockey Conference regular-season and tournament championships and later defeating Tri-Town for the first state championship in program history.
The Eagles defeated Tri-Town in the championship game, 7-3, at Yale's Ingalls Rink.
No. 10: Gabby: not too shabby
A Stonington High School junior, Gabby Dellacono won the CIAC State Open singles champion in girls' tennis, winning the final on the main court of the Connecticut Tennis Center in June.
She was named The Day's 2018 All-Area Girls' Tennis Player of the Year, the third time she's captured the honor, following her third straight Eastern Connecticut Conference tournament singles title.
Dellacono made a verbal commitment to attend Division I Brown University and play tennis.
Also receiving votes
Waterford High graduate Marissa Walker, who continues to beat cancer, was named the winner of the National High School Spirit of Sport Award. ... East Lyme's boys' cross country team won its second straight state title ... UConn football played to an abysmal 1-11 season, later firing defensive coordinator Billy Crocker of Waterford ... the Avery Point women's basketball team finished No. 3 in the country in the junior colleege national tournament ... Connecticut College's men's soccer team won its first NCAA Tournament game ... Coast Guard Academy sophomore Kaitlyn Mooney finished fourth at the NCAA Division III Cross Country National Championship.