Round of Applause
The Naugatuck Valley League boys basketball tournament has the potential to be the most exciting edition in its history. Both our local teams will be in the field and are playing some darned good basketball at the moment. Naugy and Woodland have both knocked off state-ranked Wilby within the last month, and all their stars are clicking at the right time. Tanner Kingsley just scored 42 points for the Hawks against Wolcott while Brandon Kuczenski just put in 33 for the ‘Hounds against the Wildcats. Add in a pair of hot point guards — Woodland’s Dave Uhl and Naugy’s Mick Pernell — and this might be the first year ever in which the city favorites don’t particularly want to play the guys from the Valley.
This week’s Quinnipiac hockey update will be a short one, simply letting you know that the Bobcats are still the No. 1-ranked team in America, even after they lost their first game in almost four months to St. Lawrence last Friday (my friends, Steve and Jon, are never allowed at another game ever again). They’re still 19-1-3 in their last 23 games, so that’s pretty cool. Be sure to watch the NBC Sports Network on Friday night when No. 1 Quinnipiac hosts No. 13 Yale in what might be the biggest game ever at the TD Bank Sports Center (it’s totally sold out, so unless you want to pay a heck of a lot on StubHub, you’re not getting in).
Chorus of Boos
The International Olympic Committee voted last week to remove wrestling from the 2020 Summer Olympics. I haven’t been this mad about something in the sports world in an awfully long time. How can you possibly take out a sport that is the essential Olympic sport?! Wrestling came long before ping pong, badminton, modern pentathlon, trampoline or racewalking, yet those events get to stay? The IOC is more corrupt that just about any sports organization on the planet and showed its true colors this week. Wrestling has given the Olympics some of the best moments in its history (remember Rulon Gardner!) and those clowns figured it was fine to throw it away so modern pentathlon (an antiquated, pointless and event of mediocre skill level) could stay. Among the better questions here is why the Olympics — the largest and grandest event in the world — only has room for so many events. Events don’t have to leave so others can join! The unfortunate truth here is that wrestling was a casualty of the backdoor lobbying, politicking and bribery that is abhorrently present in international sports organizations (according to speculation by people who would know). Not only did the other sports on the chopping block apparently promise ways to make their sports more exciting for the average viewer (whoever in the hell thinks modern pentathlon is more enjoyable than wrestling has his/her head stuck you know where), but it’s pretty likely that those lobbies promised vacations and hookers to IOC members to make sure they were satisfied (it’s tough to believe, but my friends at Deadspin did a nice job on this report). Also, the vice president of the International Modern Pentathlon Union sits on the IOC’s executive committee and made sure to protect his excuse for an event. Ugh, ugh, ugh, ugh, ugh.
Naugatuck (10-10) closed the regular season on a hot streak by winning their last three games, including two over NVL Copper Division rivals last week. The Greyhounds knocked off Kennedy, 45-41, Saturday behind Amy Dietz’s 14 points and Angelina Piccirilllo’s 13 points. Steph Lima also added eight points for Naugy, which outscored the Eagles 17-6 in the second quarter to take control of the game. The ‘Hounds won their regular-season finale Tuesday with a 54-45 victory over Wilby. Dietz and Lima both scored 11 points while Piccirillo added nine and Felicia Gullotta and Emma Colucci both chipped in with seven. Naugy took a 34-21 lead into halftime and held on through the second half. Although the Greyhounds missed out on the NVL tournament, they have won five of six and will hit the road Tuesday for a Class LL state tournament first-round game.
The Greyhounds earned a 97-85 victory at Watertown last Friday. Event winners for Naugy included the 200 medley relay team (Mitchell Santos, Adam Branco, Matt Hall, Eric Hanley), Scott Sill (200 IM, 100 free), Hanley (50 free), Ryan Lewis (diving), Hall (100 fly), the 200 free relay team (Hall, Mikhail Burdoev, Sill, Hanley), Branco (100 back) and the 400 free relay team (George Vygoder, Hanley, Hall, Sill). The ‘Hounds still have a meet Friday at Torrington before they get set for the NVL championships, with swim trials Feb. 26, diving finals Feb. 27 and swim finals March 1. All events will be at Kennedy.
Word from the Woods
The Woodland boys earned their second Naugatuck Valley League victory of the season Monday with a 97-74 win over Wilby. Event winners for the Hawks included Andy O’Dell (200-yard freestyle, 500 free), Alan Katrenya (200 IM), Steve McCusker (diving), Aidan Music (100 butterfly), the 200 free relay team (Music, John Dyckman, Jimmy Jensen, O’Dell), Lauren Tompkins (100 backstroke) and the 400 free relay team (O’Dell, Katrenya, Patrick Dietz, Music). The Hawks will now prepare for the NVL championships, with swim trials Feb. 26, diving finals Feb. 27 and swim finals March 1. All events will be at Kennedy.