girls basketball notebook SWC may be state’s deepest league
Taking a look at the GametimeCT girls basketball poll this season, one conference has consistently placed the most teams in the Top 10.
The SWC leads the way with three teams: No. 3 Notre Dame Fairfield, No. 8 Newtown and No. 9 Kolbe Cathedral. The FCIAC, CCC and SCC have two teams apiece in the Top 10.
It is not new for the SWC to find teams in the Top 10 or have teams competing for state titles.
However, the league is noticeably deeper this season with nine teams — Notre Dame-Fairfield, Newtown, Kolbe, Weston, Pomperaug, Bethel, Barlow, Brookfield and New Fairfield — boasting winning records.
The league’s coaches have noticed an improvement on a nightly basis.
“The SWC has been fantastic this year,” Newtown coach Jeremy O’Connell said. “Every night you go in knowing there are not too many cupcakes. In a lot of years past, it has been five teams at the top and then nine teams below. This year it is eight or nine deep where you don’t know what you’re going to get.”
With two weeks left to play in the regular season, there are just four teams at the bottom of the standings not within striking distance of a league playoff spot.
There are plenty of experienced coaches in the league, adding to the stability for some programs.
“The SWC has coaches that have been around for a while and really work hard and those teams are well prepared,” Notre Dame-Fairfield coach Eric DeMarco said. “And even teams with newer coaches, they are coming into these games very well prepared. There are also a lot of talented players in the league which raises everyone’s games.”
As more teams have lifted their games, the effects have been felt in positive ways.
“It’s fun. It really is fun,” O’Connell said. “In our first seven SWC games, we played five of the top six. It is great for us, moving forward and helps us understand what we need to do come tournament time.”
The last state title for the league came in 2017 with New Fairfield winning Class M.
This year, the league figures to have serious contenders in three classes with Newtown in LL, Notre Dame in L and Kolbe in Class M.
Coach Jackie DiNardo’s run to 500 wins has been delayed by weather with Danbury’s game against Stamford postponed until next week.
The next chance DiNardo has to win No. 500 comes Friday in Norwalk against the No. 1 ranked Bears at 5:30 p.m.
After that, the Hatters return to home Tuesday to face winless Bridgeport Central at 7 p.m.
Norwalk remains the lone unbeaten team in Class LL after defeating New London 49-47 Saturday.
Housatonic Regional out of the Berkshire League is the only other team in the state yet to taste defeat.
Housatonic faces a stiff out-of-conference test at New Fairfield Monday. Should they survive that game, a rematch with Northwestern (13-1) awaits on Feb. 11.