Last season St. Joseph was the early season favorite and carried that torch into the FCIAC tournament before being upset by a red hot Bridgeport Central team in the semifinals.
As everyone had their eyes on the Cadets, the Hilltoppers quietly gained momentum the last month of the season before tearing through the FCIAC tournament, beating Trinity Catholic in the finals.
The fact the Central did that with a team of juniors and sophomores, now leaves them as the team to beat in the league.
The pack of contenders behind them is thick with at perennial contenders like St. Joseph and Trinity, teams looking to jump into the elite like Westhill and Norwalk and teams that normally have success in other sports like Greenwich and Darien all coming into the season with talented rosters.
5 TEAMS TO WATCH
Bridgeport Central: On paper they look stacked and probably have the best mix of guards and big men in the league. Guard Tyler Ancrum led the Hilltoppers last year and should again with Marcus Blackwell, Antoin Pettway and Shaquan Bretoux all back from last season.
St. Joseph: The Cadets lost Quincy McKnight after he transferred but as is their wont, picked up blue chip prospect, 6-foot-5 guard Arkel Ager, who may be the league's best player. He will join returning players Raekwon Reid, Erick Langston, Jonny Dzurenda and Steve Hashemi when he becomes eligible to pay Jan. 14
Greenwich: The Cardinals snuck into the No. 8 spot in the FCIAC tournament last season but with returning scoring threats in guard CJ Byrd and 6'9 center Alex Wolf they will be tough to defend. How forward Leonel Hyatt develops and if the Cardinals can get consistent guard play will determine how far they can go.
Norwalk: The Bears have one of the league's best duos in Roy Kane Jr. and 6'9 Steve Enoch but will need to find someone to handle the ball if they want to make the jump this season. Team chemistry was, at times, an issue for the Bears last year.
Westhill: When Jeremiah Livingston got going last year, Westhill became a very tough team to beat. The talented guard is back and will be joined in the backcourt by CJ Donaldson. The Vikings will look to 6'6 center Brandon Thomas, 6'3 forward Evan Skoparantzos and 6'4 forward Juan Delacruz to do work inside, allowing the guards to operate.
5 PLAYERS TO WATCH
Tyler Ancrum, Bridgeport Central: The lightning quick Ancrum was the MVP of the FCIAC tournament last year and will look to put the Hilltoppers back into the final again. Ancrum averaged 15.7 points and 7 assists last season.
Jeremiah Livingston, Westhill: Livingston did it all last season averaging 15.7 points, 5 assists, 5 steals and 4 rebounds a game. The 6'0 guard can shoot or go to the basket, making him tough to guard on the perimeter.
Roy Kane Jr., Norwalk: The junior was first team All-FCIAC and first team defense as a sophomore and if he worked at all in the offseason should be very difficult to deal with on both ends of the floor. Read Full Article
Matt Staubi, Darien: If the Blue Wave hope to reach the FCIAC tournament for the first time since anyone can remember it will be on the diminutive shoulders of Staubi. The guard is not scared of anyone and creates scoring opportunities for himself and his teammates.
Alex Wolf, Greenwich: In a league suddenly full of big men, Wolf may be the best. The 6'9 senior can run the floor and takes his defense as seriously as he takes his offense.
5 GAMES TO WATCH
Westhill at St. Joseph, Wednesday: Two teams that hope to be nipping at Central's heels all season face off on opening night.
Trinity Catholic at Bridgeport Central, Jan. 3: The Crusaders lost to the Hilltoppers in the FCIAC final last season and would love to get some revenge on the road.
Westhill at Norwalk, Jan. 28: Two of the league's best players go head-to-head in a game that should go down to the wire.
Trinity at Greenwich, Feb. 24: The last two years these teams have staged classic contests decided on the last shot of the game. This late season tilt could decide a spot in the tournament.
Darien at Stamford, Feb. 26: These two teams are hoping to surprise people and when they meet in the last game of the season there could be a lot on the line.
TOP PLAYERS BY TEAM
Bassick: Curhone Baldwin, Kobe Ancrum, Brandon Hilario, Rajohn James, Michael Nunez, Brevin McCullough, Keante Smith, Jacob Difre.
Bridgeport Central: Tyler Ancrum, Marcus Blackwell, ShaQuan Bretoux, Antoin Pettway.
Danbury: Chris Latham, CJ White, Michael Kline, Elijah Duffy, Jamar Peterson, Michael Schneider, Corey Brosz, Josh Nelson, Tysheen McCrea, Will Orr, George Bielizna.
Darien: Matt Staubi, Bobby Fitzpatrick, George Phillips, Ames Murray, Chima Azuonwu, Colin Sullivan, Alex Preston, Hudson Hamill, Casey Brown.
Fairfield Ludlowe: Mark Malone, Matt Doyle, Darren Lee, Chad Peterson, Kevin Hickey, Hayes Kelchner, Kiran Prakash, Jonah Rosner, Jack Armstrong, Chris Howell.
Fairfield Warde: Brian Kerrigan, Nick Cotto, Mike Pehota, Terrance Walden, Tommy Luckner, Kavon Polk, Brandon Bisack, Giacomo Brancato, Chris Smaldone.
Greenwich: Tom Povinelli, Jonathan Palmer, CJ Byrd, Leonel Hyatt, Alex Wolf, Kyle Foote, Patrick Santini, Griffin Golden, Alberto Larraguibel, Michael Gianopolous.
Harding: Terrence Rogers, Reggie Stewart, Tyzhon Dixon, Okoe Narh, Antoine Sistrunk.
Brien McMahon: Larry McKinney, Delquan Howard, Tim Hinton, Trevon Forney, Thomas Clyne, Allan Lenard, Jahmerkiah Green-Younger, Kenny Keen, Harold Garcia, Josh Jenkins.
New Canaan: Zach Allen, Chris Andrews, Carsten Berger, Claude Chandonnet, Jack Evans, Paul Hagopian, Erik Jager, Andrew Penchuk, Beau Santero, Max Urbahn.
Norwalk: Steve Enoch, Roy Kane, Bryant Bracey, Tommy Barrett, Zaire Wilson.
Ridgefield: Charlie Irwin, Matt Brennan, Zac Ward, Patrick Racy, Thomas Haughney, Matt Bartalucci, Johnny Stamatis, Will Brady, Cavan Briody.
St. Joseph: Arkel Ager, Raekwon Reid, Erick Langston, Jonny Dzurenda, Steven Hashemi, Tyshon Williams, Mike Sulick, Omar Telfor.
Stamford: Kenny Wright, Ancel Nevers, Kwe Askew, James Gronberg, Gianni Carwin, Jack Rakoczy, John Odoom, Rich Benoit, Whens Desther, Jay DeVito, Yan Carlos Marte, Donny Depina.
Staples: David Katz, Nic Esposito, Darryle Wiggins, Jake Melnick, Andrew Felman, Todd Goldstein, Ben Casperius, Justin Seidman, Harry Kohn.
Trinity Catholic: Tremaine Fraiser, Tyrell St. John, Justice Page, Aaron Wheeler, Peace Ilgomah, Mike Szemenyei, Wyatt Garyk. Tyler Williams, Neno Merritt
Trumbull: Gio Klein, AJ Alston, Rashard Rodriguez, Billy Brown, Frank Puglia, Matt Turner, Eddie McElroy, Chris Lyons, Mike Miller, Jason Micalizzi, Brandon Owen, Zack Yellen.
Westhill: Jeremiah Livingston, Evan Skoparantzos, CJ Donaldson, Brandon Thomas, Juan Delcruz, Luke Herritt, Jesse Brown, Chianta Holtzclaw, Ethan Peikes, Samir Johnson, Terrell Alexander.
Wilton: Eric Houska, Matt Shifrin, Richard Williams, Lucas Savoie, Peter Ciaccio, Scott Shouvlin, Michael Bingaman, TJ Savvaides, Justin Shepard.