It's been a week to savor
It has been suggested that athletes and coaches rarely allow themselves time to dissect the moment when they're in it. Happily, that doesn't apply to the rest of us. Because we're in quite a moment at the moment: one of the most improbable, if not entertaining, sporting weeks in the humble history of this corner of the world.
We've been awash in buzzer beaters, award winners, overtimes, triple overtimes, history and court stormings, not necessarily in that order. And it's not over yet.
Shall we review?
Monday: Francis X. Sweeney Fieldhouse, Waterford High School. Rocky Hill 54, Waterford 52. Thirteen seconds left in the first round of the Class M state tournament. This looks about it for the Lancers, who are running a final play that looks more like somebody just pulled the fire alarm.
Suddenly, Waterford junior Kevin Johnson, illustrating that basketball isn't just for the very, very tall, hoists a three and hits the deck, drawing a foul with six seconds left. Johnson, a guard judged frequently by his height, or lack thereof, is nonetheless tougher than Clorox.
Johnson personified Bill Raftery's "onions!" and made all three free throws, with only the hopes and dreams of a season hovering. Waterford wins, despite protests from the Rocky Hills, who believe they got a bad whistle. One participant in the postgame handshake line told Waterford coach Greg Gwudz, "Merry Christmas."
Tuesday: Luce Fieldhouse, Connecticut College. The National Prep Championship came to us, allowing a look at the best high school/prep players in the country. St. Thomas More won an epic, 111-107 game in the quarterfinals that lasted three overtimes.
Yet it almost didn't last three overtimes. T-More guard Christian Vital made a from-beyond-halfcourt shot to end the first overtime, a play that coach Jere Quinn said "would have led 'SportsCenter.'" Alas, the shot was ruled late, thereby forcing two more overtimes.
If nothing else, the country got to see what we've known since the day Quinn arrived on the shores of Gardner Lake: St. Thomas More's program is as good any in the country. How fortunate, indeed, that Quinn's program (as well as Avery Point baseball) are in our midst, two prep programs that command national respect.
Wednesday, New York City: Kris Dunn, former New London High whiz kid, wins the Big East Player of the Year Award for the PC Friars, sharing it with Villanova's Ryan Arcidiacono.
Dunn conducted a news conference in the big, bad city amid all the national media. And yet not long after, Dunn took the time to talk to The Day's Gavin Keefe from the team bus after practice. "Don't forget where you came from" isn't far down the list after "love thy neighbor." Kris Dunn gets it.
Wednesday, Francis X. Sweeney Fieldhouse, Waterford: The Lancers were at it again. This time, 60-60 with Sheehan in the second round, seven seconds left. Up the court races Kevin Johnson. Dishes to Landon Peabody who attacks the rim, but misses. Tick, tick, tick. Yet as the shot rolls off, there is Connor Lewis for the putback at the buzzer. Kids rush the court for the second time in three nights.
It was the one-year anniversary of Lewis' buzzer beater in last year's state tournament. Go figure those odds.
Aside on Lewis: He was removed from the starting lineup earlier this year. In lieu of complaining about playing time or whining to the coach, all he did was shut up and play better. Quite a novelty. Now he's got to be in the discussion for Class M All-State.
Wednesday, Judy Standish Gymnasium, Ledyard. The Colonels made the quarterfinals for the fourth straight year with a victory over Danbury. Intrepid Day reporter/Lonesome Polecat proprietor Ned Griffen points out that Ledyard has a little north of 400 boys in its school while Danbury has roughly 1,500.
Now I know that Ledyard and its "school of choice" designation (which it's been since 1962) gets blamed for everything around here short of Ebola. But a victory - any victory, let alone with the season on the line - over a school with 1,100 more boys is an accomplishment. So there.
Today: Two great basketball games in the region tonight. Defending Class M champion East Catholic at Waterford (can't wait to see who hits the next one at the buzzer) and 22-time state champion Hillhouse at Ledyard. Suggestion: Go watch the kids. The way it's gone this week, you're likely to see some history.
This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro.