A look at the area’s top basketball and hockey players and teams

Here are some players and teams to watch in girls and boys basketball and ice hockey. The winter high school season opens Monday.

a group of people playing a game of basketball: East Catholic's Luke Strole, center, gets to the basket between Windsor's Justice Ellison, left, and Troy McCoy, right.

© Brad Horrigan / Hartford Courant/Hartford Courant/TNS
East Catholic’s Luke Strole, center, gets to the basket between Windsor’s Justice Ellison, left, and Troy McCoy, right.

Boys basketball

Players to watch

Donovan Clingan, C, Bristol Central: The state’s top player, Clingan averaged over 24 points and 17 rebounds as a sophomore. A 7-foot-2 center with 21 Division I offers, Clingan is ranked 49th in ESPN’s class of 2022 rankings.

East Hartford's Tiana Asberry, right, tries to get around East Catholic's Lilly Ferguson at East Catholic in a 2019 game.

© Brad Horrigan/The Hartford Courant/Hartford Courant/TNS
East Hartford’s Tiana Asberry, right, tries to get around East Catholic’s Lilly Ferguson at East Catholic in a 2019 game.

Brody Limric, C, East Catholic: Limric averaged 16 points, nine rebounds and four blocks for the Eagles as a junior. The 6-8 big man is one of the area’s few true centers.

Luke Strole, G, East Catholic: Strole, a Bentley commit, jumped into a starting role for the top-ranked Eagles last year and thrived, averaging 16 points and eight rebounds.

Matt Curtis, G, Northwest Catholic: An All-State player last season, Curtis averaged 23 points for the Lions, who fell to East Catholic in the conference championship game.

a group of people playing with a ball: Avon's Jack Hall, left, and Manchester's Chance Eason-Jones battle for possession of the ball in a 2019 game.

© Brad Horrigan / Hartford Courant/Hartford Courant/TNS
Avon’s Jack Hall, left, and Manchester’s Chance Eason-Jones battle for possession of the ball in a 2019 game.

Keyshawn Mitchell, F, Capital Prep: Mitchell averaged 12.4 points as a sophomore at Capital Prep. A 6-8 junior, Mitchell has the body of a big man but plays like a guard — with athleticism to boot.

Jack Hall, G, Avon: Hall burst onto the scene as a junior and did it all for Avon, averaging 24 points, nine rebounds and three assists a year ago.

Tyshawn Jackson, G, Prince Tech: Now the go-to guy at Prince Tech, Jackson will look to improve on a stellar junior season in which he averaged 18 points and 4.9 assists for the undefeated Falcons.

Ian Calabrese, G, Simsbury: Calabrese averaged 14.9 points last year, and made 69 three-pointers (second-most in the state) at a 41 percent clip.

Hayden Abdullah, F, Northwest Catholic: A lanky big man with shooting ability, Abdullah showed what type of player he can be in last year’s CCC tournament.

Jacob Smith, G, Farmington: Smith has been a reliable option for Farmington since he helped the team to a state title as a sophomore. Now the top option, he has a chance to be one of the CCC’s best guards.

Teams to watch

East Catholic: Led by Strole, Limric and senior guard Matt Houde, the reigning No. 1 team in Connecticut should pick up right where it left off.

Windsor: The Warriors need to replace Primo Spears, Corey McKeithan and Justice Ellison, but head coach Ken Smith has never struggled to find talent in his program.

Northwest Catholic: The Lions looked poised for a title run before the tournament was canceled last season. Curtis and Abdullah will have John Mirabello’s squad ready to go off the bat.

Bristol Central: No one in Connecticut can guard Donovan Clingan one-on-one. He alone makes the Rams a team worth following.

Capital Prep: The Trailblazers are loaded with a roster of talented athletes, led by Mitchell. They were among the favorites in Division III last season, and should take another step in 2021.

Girls basketball

Players to watch

Charlotte Bassett, G, Glastonbury: Bassett, a senior, averaged 16 points last year, is 96 points away from 1,000, will play at New Haven next year.

Gallery: Best shots of 2020-21 college basketball season (USA TODAY SPORTS)

Patrick Chung et al. on a court: Feb. 3: Villanova's Caleb Daniels is double-teamed by St. John’s Vince Cole (15) and guard Rasheem Dunn (3). St. John's upset Villanova 70-59.

Jessica Berens, C, Coginchaug: Averaged 12 points, 11.5 rebounds and 3.5 blocks and is heading to Bryant next year.

Azaiyah Felder, G, Conard: Dynamic player who became the all-time girls basketball scoring leader at Conard, heading to Ohio University next year.

Lilly Ferguson, G, Newington: Ferguson, who averaged 13.4 points and 7.6 rebounds, transferred from East Catholic and has verbally committed to UMass.

Rebecca Fraley, G, Windsor: Senior averaged 9.8 points, 3.8 assists, five rebounds per game.

Taylor Golembiewski, G, E.O. Smith: Will play at George Washington next year, Golumbiewski averaged 12.6 points, 5.2 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 4.2 steals.

Caitlyn Hunt, C, Sheehan: Hunt, a senior, led Sheehan in scoring (16.5) and eight rebounds per game.

Mary McElroy, G, Simsbury: Four-year starter who averaged 12 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and 2.5 steals.

Emma Novajasky, G, Farmington: On track to become a 1,000-point scorer this season.

Shailyn Pinkney, G, East Hartford: Junior committed to Seton Hall in November after averaging 21 points and 10 rebounds.

Teams to watch

East Hartford: The Hornets return five seniors, including 6-2 Jaida Robinson, and Pinkney is one of the top players in the state.

E.O. Smith: Senior leadership of Golembiewski will be key in keeping a young team together. The Panthers lost two seniors but have a lot of players back from last year when they won their second straight CCC championship.

Glastonbury: Four seniors are back – Bassett and Rachel Roman are four-year starters and Jaci Budaj and Jill Margaglione are two-year starters – forming a nice nucleus for a team that advanced to the Class LL quarterfinals last year.

Newington: Newington is loaded with East Catholic transfer Lilly Ferguson and juniors Karissa and Marley Zocco as well as senior forward Alexie Armour (7 ppg, 8 rpg).

Sheehan: Sheehan has six seniors returning from a team that went 17-3 in the regular season and reached the Class MM quarterfinals before the season ended prematurely.

Boys Hockey

Players to watch

Tatum Fitzmaurice, F, Hand: An All-State honoree a year ago, Fitzmaurice totaled 67 points (30 goals, 37 assists) for the Tigers.

Joe Romano, F, Sheehan: One half of the dynamic Romano-twin attack in Wallingford, Joe Romano totaled 141 points in his first three seasons.

Anthony Romano, F, Sheehan: Like his twin Joe, Anthony Romano knows how to score. He’s found the back of the net 70 times in his three seasons at Sheehan.

Duncan Hollander, F, Hall-Southington: One of the top scorers in Division II last year, Hollander totaled 41 points for the Hall-Southington co-op last season.

Aaron Cholewa, F, WMRP: Cholewa scored 35 goals and assisted on 17 others for the Wethersfield co-op last season.

Sam Hedlund, F, Newington: Hedlund was an All-Conference honoree a year ago, and totaled 24 points.

Noah Melanson, F, Northwest Catholic: Melanson was named to the All-Conference team as a freshman. Expect a sophomore leap to come this year.

Trevor Schad G, WMRP: A second-team All-Stater last season, Schad helped the Wethersfield co-op to a CCC championship last year.

Andrew Fogarty G, Newington co-op: Fogarty was a second-team All-Stater last season in net, and will return to anchor Newington’s goal this year.

Bryan Roy, F, E.O. Smith: Roy scored 27 goals last year for the E.O. Smith co-op, and was named to the All-Conference team.

Teams to watch

Sheehan: Led by the Romano twins, Luke Festa and Joe Richo, the Titans profile as one of Division II’s top squads.

Hand: Anytime you return a player who scored 67 points like Tatum Fitzmaurice, you’re going to find success.

WMRP: With a talented scorer in Cholewa and an anchor in net with Schad, WMRP will look to make it back-to-back conference titles.

Newington co-op: The Newington co-op went 17-3 in the regular season last year, and will look to build upon that success this time around.

Hall-Southington: The co-op went 13-7 last year in the regular season, and has a mix of returners that should keep them in the hunt again.

Lori Riley can be reached at [email protected]. Shawn McFarland can be reached at [email protected].

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