Westhill Boys, Wilton Girls Basketball Teams Take Different Paths To First State Finals

Westhill's Jeremiah Livingston dribbles between two Hartford Public defenders in Tuesday's semifinal. (Photo: J. Gregory Raymond)
Westhill’s Jeremiah Livingston dribbles between two Hartford Public defenders in Tuesday’s semifinal. (Photo: J. Gregory Raymond)

If we are looking for a nickname for this year’s Westhill High School boys basketball team, perhaps we should go with Jeremiah And The Bullfrogs.

Hey, if a minor league baseball team in this state can go by the truly horrific and ridiculous nickname Yard Goats, I’m allowed to show my age and play off a line from a long-ago popular song.

Jeremiah Livingston is having an individual season that ranks with the best in FCIAC history. It is telling that Livingston had, for him, a B game on Tuesday and still scored 23 points to lead the Vikings to a 50-47 win in the Class LL semifinals.

Second Chance Points BLUE 450

Livingston often resembled a mouse trying to make its way through a maze as he swerved and avoided the two and sometimes three defenders that the Owls threw his way.

If this were baseball, we would be talking about how you have to get to the Vikings in the eighth inning, before their closer comes in. That would be Livingston, who always has the ball in his hands in the final minutes of games and thus ends up at the foul line, where his accuracy is nearly flawless.

Part of the reason for Livingston’s success, and one that has gone overlooked, is the Vikings having an equally adept ballhandler in CJ Donaldson. If Livingston is either doubled up or covered on inbounds plays, Donaldson is there to get the ball and find his backcourt mate.

It is a big reason why Westhill, despite half of its games decided by six points or fewer, have yet to give one away at the end.

Westhill's Tyrell Alexander has been a consistent double-double scorer ad rebounder. (Photos: J. Gregory Raymond)
Westhill’s Tyrell Alexander has been a consistent double-double scorer and rebounder. (Photos: J. Gregory Raymond)

Now the 25-1 Vikings get a chance to play Fairfield Prep for their first state championship. The teams met in the second round three years ago, with the Jesuits, behind Stamford’s Terry Tarpey, now playing for William & Mary, coming away with a 62-53 win.

This will be the second year in a row Prep meets an FCIAC school in the final. Last year, in one of the most memorable games in state history, Bridgeport Central rallied from an 18-point halftime deficit for a 76-73 win.

By all accounts, this Prep team is not quite as talented though very resilient. After hearing the stories last year from the Central players and coaches regarding events at halftime, one has to assume Prep will be much smarter and more mature if it again gets to play with a lead.

While the Jesuits have the experience of playing before a large crowd at Mohegan Sun, this will be a first for the Vikings. It hasn’t been fazed by anything yet this season.

There is no reason to believe that will change on Saturday night.

Wilton Making Its Maiden Voyage

The Vikings will not be the only FCIAC team making its first state final appearance. Their warmup act is the Wilton girls basketball team, which will be playing South Windsor in Saturday night’s first game.

The Warriors have done a tremendous job of rebounding from a heartbreaking FCIAC semifinal loss to Ridgefield and have rolled through their half of the Class LL bracket, climaxed by a 55-54 win Monday over Mercy.

After a season-opening loss to Fairfield Ludlowe, Wilton won 20 straight games before the crushing defeat by the Tigers.

They have regrouped, with center Erica Meyer playing perhaps her best ball of the season. Erin Cunningham remains the primary scoring threat, while Haley English made the game-saving steal in the final seconds of against Mercy. (We will have more on Wilton tomorrow.)

It is possible the FCIAC could have four teams in the finals if the Bassick boys win tomorrow night.

The fourth? The St. Joseph girls team, which as the 11th seed will play Cromwell in Class M.

A surprise? The Cadets may be a testament to the overall power of FCIAC girls basketball this winter. They finished seventh in the league standings, but the strength of competition has served it well the past three weeks.

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