CIAC championship weekend has got me thinking ...
Mohegan — Cleaning out the notebook from the high school basketball championships at Mohegan Sun ...
• More history made for the girls of New London High. The championship game Saturday night drew 8,186 fans (UConn drew 5,670 by comparison earlier in the day), a record for a girls' high school basketball game in Connecticut. It speaks to the appeal of the kids, the passion of the city and the increasing interest in high school sports. Bravo.
The tournament drew 18,122 fans overall, up from 17,710 last year.
• The CIAC has a list of issues to address long enough to wallpaper Interstate 84. Among the biggies: Why were people waiting in line in excess of 40 minutes to buy tickets for the New London/Trumbull game?
There are two entrances to the arena, from the Sky and Sun casinos. Use them both. Sell tickets at both. Funnel fans to both. Encourage schools — convincingly — to pre-sell as many tickets as possible. Don't clear the arena between sessions. Make sure every ticket window is open. It's not unreasonable to show up at 6 p.m. to a 6:15 game and expect to see tipoff. Some people missed the entire first half.
• Next time some coach around here complains about officials from the Eastern Board, I'll refer them to the travesty of the weekend. We don't know how lucky we are.
The Litchfield Board was assigned the Class S boys' final between Trinity Catholic and Westbrook. Two of the officials are in excess of 70-years-old. Lovely. Two septuagenarians who are used to officiating Wamogo vs. Shepaug trying to keep up with two far more athletic teams. It was a disaster.
The Class LL girls' final between New London and Trumbull also drew the same board. Again: They see small-school, walk-it-up basketball all year. Then they're thrust into circumstances they rarely see in front of 8,200 people. The result: They are more over the head than Leonardo DiCaprio at the end of Titanic.
Can we assign the right people to the right games?
This is not about taking care of your friends or the old boy/girl network.
This is about a fair baseline for the kids.
• I'm ready to declare Jada Lucas and India Pagan as the best two girls' players in New London history. Discuss.
• The CIAC needs to get younger. Too many suits who retired from school jobs and migrated to the CIAC for the gravy train. They perpetuate old ideas instead of seeking new ones.
• Once again: A school of choice wins the Class S boys' title. This is a recording. Sacred Heart two years ago, Immaculate last year, Trinity Catholic this year.
They are playing for the same trophy as ... wait for it ... Wheeler.
Trinity Catholic, with kids from three different states (Connecticut and transfers from New York and New Jersey) and two different countries (the U.S. and Haiti) against ... Westbrook, among the smallest school districts in our state.
You know when Westbrook and Trinity Catholic should play for the same trophy?
Never. That's when.
I know CIAC officials tried to address the issue last offseason.
Try harder this offseason.
Idea: Two enrollment-based choice divisions that include all parochial, charter, magnet and other schools that have no borders. Four public school divisions that incorporate the technical schools in Classes S and M, to at least give them a chance. Discuss.
• Best chant from a student section this weekend came from Westbrook, serenading Trinity Catholic with "you recruited (clap, clap, clap-clap-clap)."
• Nice of the assistant boys' coach from Brookfield to wear those resplendent jeans on the bench for Sunday's Class M boys' final.
He looked like an unmade bed.
Is looking presentable asking too much?
We're asking kids to be accountable all the time and to represent their schools and towns with dignity. And then we get adults – and it wasn't just that guy – who can't be bothered to wear a pair of dress pants with 5,000 people watching?
• Given the popularity of basketball in our state — several conference tournament finals and state tournament semifinals sold out — it's time for permanent semifinal sites in bigger gyms as well. I'm partial to the University of Hartford and Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport.
Of course, this would require the CIAC to pay rent for the facilities, thus eating into the profits.
• My friend Jim Bransfield of the Middletown Press, who wrote a wonderful piece in Monday's editions about the choice vs. public debate, also reports that the CIAC may yank the baseball championships from Palmer Field for Dunkin' Donuts Park in Hartford.
Didn't they learn the lesson from football at Rentschler Field, where title games were played before 36,000 empty seats?
A baseball crowd of 2,000 gives Palmer Field a championship game feel, butts in every seat.
A crowd of 2,000 makes in a 6,000-seat minor league stadium look empty.
This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro
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