CANTON, March 8 – There have been years when the Canton High boys basketball team ran in schools of choice in the Class S tournament – schools that drew from multiple towns.
Sometimes, the Warriors won. Sometimes, they lost. There was the 2009 team that lost just three games all year – two to Avon and one to Bridgeport’s Kolbe Cathedral in overtime in the quarterfinals. The 2008 team dropped a five-point decision to Kolbe in the Class S tournament, too.
This year, Canton doesn’t have to worry about many schools of choice. There are 24 teams in this year’s CIAC Division V tournament and 21 are public schools — some of the smallest high schools in the state. Hartford’s Capital Prep, New Britain magnet school Innovation and Hartford Magnet Trinity College Academy (HMTCA) are the three non-public schools.
The CIAC boys basketball committee is holding a one-year trial this year. They added Division I – meant for the top teams all 21 teams qualified for the tournament. In the other four divisions, teams had to win 40 percent of their games.
Teams were placed in their respective divisions based on enrollment, a power point system that takes into account team’s achievements the past three years, post season success in conference and CIAC tournaments and the overall strength of the league that the school plays in.
“It’s great for the whole state with the parity, equity and fairness in all levels,” Canton High coach Craig Archambault said earlier this month.
The No. 2-seeded Warriors took their first step in the Division V tournament on Thursday night with a 58-50 win over NCCC rival No. 15 Somers in a second round game in Canton. Ryan Enns led Canton (19-4) with 13 points while Luke Brown added 12. Jack Mansur scored 10 for the Warriors.
Canton advances to the quarterfinals against No. 7 North Branford, which beat Shepaug on Thursday night, 70-56. The Thunderbirds were led by 6-foot-2 senior Brett LeQuire, who had a game-high 39 points and eight rebounds. He broke the school record for most career points (1,872) in the game and now has 1,895 points and 997 rebounds in his career.
“We’re not taking anyone for granted,” Archambault said. “There are some great Shoreline (Conference) teams on our side of the bracket.”
But the Warriors have had an eye on the state tournament all season. While losing to Hartford Classical in the NCCC Tournament semifinals stung, Archambault chose to reflect on the positives of being challenged on the floor.
“Playing a team like Classical will make us better for the Division V tournament and that has been our goal since the beginning — making a run in the states,” he said.
Canton hasn’t played in the championship game since 1981 – 37 years ago — when the Warriors fell to Bacon Academy in the Class S title game. The last state championship by the squad came in 1979 when Roger Coutu and Jim Callahan led the Warriors to an upset win over Cromwell. Canton has played in one semifinal game since 1981 when the Warriors dropped an overtime decision to Cromwell in 2007.
Canton will host North Branford (15-7) on Saturday at a time to be determined.
Canton 58, Somers 50
Somers (50) Brady Palazzesi 4 2 10, Aiden Miller 1 0 2, Alex Barresi 8 2 20, Egan Foye 1 0 2, Avery Foye 7 2 16. Totals 21 6 50
Canton (58) Luke Brown 3 4 12, Jack Mansur 3 3 10, Ryan Enns 6 1 13, Grant Lange 1 0 3, Tim Keating 2 3 7, Matthew Rose 1 0 2, Mitchell Cormier 5 1 11. Totals 21 12 58
Somers (11-12) 8 11 16 15 – 50
Canton (19-4) 11 14 16 17 — 58
Three-point goals: Barresi (S) 2, Brown (Ca) 2, Mansur (Ca), Lange (Ca)