Sneak Peek At The 2019-20 Shoreline Conference Season

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Pictured: Senior point guard Tyler Baldwin (center) will be in the middle of all things Cromwell basketball this season. The Panthers, the defending Shoreline champions, are rebuilding their rotation.

Editor’s note: Capsule looks not available for North Branford, Old Lyme, Portland and Westbrook. Old Lyme returns four starters after going all the way to the 2019 CIAC Division V championship game and is widely considered the team to beat in the Shoreline.

COGINCHAUG BLUE DEVILS

Coach: Todd Salva, 29th season

CIAC Division: V

Last season: 8-12, Division V first-round loss.

2019-20 opener: Thursday, home vs. Westbrook, 7pm

Key players returning: 6-3 Sr. G Justin Penney, 6-1 Sr. F Chris Onofrio, 5-7 Sr. G Derek Grant, 6-1 Sr. C Del Cade, 5-10 Sr. G Hugh Barrett, 6-4 Jr. C Tyler Garretson.

Sneak Peek

Coach Todd Salva looks at his Blue Devils as a middle-of-the-pack team in the Shoreline.

CROMWELL PANTHERS

Coach: John Pinone (21st season)

CIAC Division: IV

Last season: 20-0 regular season, 23-1 overall (Division IV first-round loss.

2019-20 opener: Thursday, home vs. East Lyme, 7pm

Key players lost: F Nick Wright, G J.J. Tracy-Gavin, F/C Gabe Charleston (transfer), G Naim Heyliger.

Key players returning: Sr. PG Tyler Baldwin (5pg, 3 apg).

Other players to watch: G Justin Valentin, G/F Nick Polizonis, G Michael Morgan, G Zykarie Wilborn, G Connor Daly, G Patrick Stafstrom, F James Grodzicki.

Sneak Peek

The Panthers are taking the season a day at a time, having to replace four starters – including scorers Wright and Tracy-Gavin — and key role players.

“We need to improve in several areas,” coach John Pinone said. “We don’t have a lot of height, so boxing out and limiting teams to one shot is crucial. Finding scorers to fill in from the points we lost from last year is also a priority.”

Pinone believes he has a middle-of-the-pack team in the Shoreline that needs game experience and time playing with each other.

EAST HAMPTON BELLRINGERS

Coach: Parker Strong (9th, 117-71)

CIAC Division: IV

Last season: 10-10 regular season, Division IV first-round loss.

2019-20 opener: Friday, at Civic Leadership, 5:30pm

Home opener: Monday vs. Tourtellotte, 3pm

Key players returning: Sr. G/F Stephen Brady (All-Shoreline First Team, 19.2ppg, 3.8rpg, 2.9apg, 1.3 steals per game), Jr. G Ted Zhao (10ppg, 2.9rpg, 2.9apg), Soph. F Jye Lynch (8.1ppg, 4.5rpg), Jr. G/F Grant Arcidiacono, Sr. C Chris Weyrauch.

Sophomores to watch: 6-5 C Jack Blakey, 6-0 G/F Drew DiStefano, 5-5 G Ethan Palma, 6-0 G/F Dan Cascio.

Sneak Peek

After losing five starters last season, coach Parker Strong said his team did a good job to finish at .500.

“We have a very strong sophomore class and are going to have many sophomores in our rotation this year,” he said. “Even with so m any young kids, our expectation is to be competitive. We shoot the ball well but rebounding is going to be a big concern.”

The Bellringers are a dark horse in the Shoreline race.

HADDAM-KILLINGWORTH COUGARS

Coach: Jim Abbott

CIAC Division: V

Last season: 8-12 regular season, Division V first-round loss.

2019-20 opener: Thursday, home vs. Portland, 7pm

Key players returning: Sr. G Giacamo Volpicelli, Sr. F Sam Erskine, Sr. C Trey Callender

Other key players: Jr. G Alec Erskine, Jr. F Jimmy McGoey, Jr. G Tony Giambanis, Jr. G Chase O’Linn, Fr. Mason Gorham.

Sneak Peek

The Cougars lost four starters to graduation. Coach Jim Abbott will lean on many players with little to no varsity experience to get back to the state tournament.

HALE-RAY NOISES

Coach: Corey Zdunczyk

CIAC Division: V

Last season: 4-16.

2019-20 opener: Thursday, at North Branford, 7pm

Home opener: Dec. 23 vs. Cromwell, 5pm

Key players returning: Sr. C Zak Cunningham (10 ppg).

Sneak Peek

The Noises have upside with the 6-foot-3 Cunningham in the middle as they try to improve their team scoring (44 ppg last season). Hale-Ray will have to double its 2018-19 win total for its first state tournament berth since the 2010-11 season.

MORGAN HUSKIES

Coach: Frank Rossi, 2nd season

CIAC Division: V

Last season: 17-8 overall, Division V quarterfinal loss.

2019-20 opener: Thursday, home vs. East Lyme, 7pm

Key players lost: Garrett Johnson (All-SLC Second Team, Chris Nuzzo (Honorable Mention).

Key players returning: Jr. F/C Robbie Zirlis (25 starts, 7 ppg, 7 rpg), Jr. G Zach Johnson (25 starts, 7 ppg, 2 rpg, 2.5 apg).

Sneak Peek

The Huskies won 17 games last season, their most in a decade, reaching the Shoreline tournament semifinals (lost to eventual champion Cromwell) and the CIAC Division V quarters (lost to eventual runner-up Old Lyme).

Zirlis and Johnson return as starters, along with six lettermen. Coach Frank Rossi believes his squad can compete for the Shoreline title, but the development of less-experienced players over 20 games will be key.

OLD SAYBROOK RAMS

Coach: Patrick Quinn (4th season)

CIAC Division: V

Last season: 15-5 regular season, Division IV second round.

2019-20 opener: Thursday at Old Lyme, 7pm

Home opener: Dec. 27 vs. East Hampton, 1pm

Key players lost: Shane Henderson, Shoreline Conference Player of the Year

Key players returning: Sr. 5-9 PG Davis Brown (17 ppg, 5 apg, 3 rpg, All-Shoreline Second Team), Sr.  6-foot G Mike Almada (13 ppg), Sr. 6-1 F/G Gino Gallitto (sixth man last season).

Sneak Peek

Quinn is paying special attention to developing his bigs this season, particularly 6-foot-1 newcomer Tucker Gometz, who can play at guard or forward. Gallitto moves into the starting lineup after a promising junior season.

The Rams have talent and experience in the backcourt with scorers Brown and Almada, plus Gallitto, who moves into the starting lineup the in the backcourt with scorer.

With Cromwell and Old Lyme getting lots of attention last season, Old Saybrook was under the radar in winning 15 games, and Quinn wants to see his team do better this season. The Rams lost to Stonington in overtime in the second round of the Division IV tournament.

VALLEY REGIONAL WARRIORS

Coach: Kevin Woods (11th season)

CIAC Division: V

Last season: 15-5, Shoreline semifinals, Division V semifinals

2019-2020 opener: Dec. 23, home vs. Windham, 7pm

Key players returning: Sr. G Cade Ensinger (10.5 ppg, 4.6 apg, 4.7 steals per game), Sr. G Gavin Grabowski (15.6 ppg), Sr. C Chris Sparaco (10.6 ppg, 9.8 rpg).

Sneak Peek

Woods expects the Warriors to remain contenders in both the Shoreline and state tournament. Valley held eventual Division V champion Innovation to 42 points in a four-point semifinal loss.

“We need to continue to be a strong defensive team and need to improve our offensive consistency,” the coach said.

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