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Wednesday, March 5, 2008

end of a great run

The Hillhouse boys' basketball team ended a nine-game winning streak in the state tournament with a 56-53 loss at home to Fairfield Prep. The Academics won the last two state championships and finished as the No. 1 team in the state both times.

Head coach Kermit Carolina was right: Hillhouse did put New Haven back on the map or, as he put it, made the city "the mecca of high school basketball." Both runs were impressive in their own right.

The 2006 team was a demolition unit, blowing out every team by double digits. The 2007 team had to win a lot of close games, especially in the state tournament against NVL schools Crosby and Torrington. Those teams combined to win 40 games in a row and 54 of 55.

But the losses of Mike Moore and Kwamaine McCarter were too much to overcome this season. Hillhouse's offensive liabilities were exposed late in the season. Jeremy Moore was the team's only proven offensive threat. He and Freddie Wilson will be tougher to handle next season.

But Hillhouse has set a higher standard with its two state championships and the following, no matter what you hear or what anyone else says, is the truth:
1) a 17-6 season, losing 4 of your last 5, is subpar at Hillhouse. Most teams would take that and run, but Hillhouse is not most teams. And deep down, the coaches and players understand that.
2) the pressure is squarely on Wilbur Cross to deliver a state championship. The Governors probably have overachieved a little this season, but now, the Governors must bring home a title. If they ever were to lose to Wilby in tonight's second round, the season would be somewhat of a disappointment - and the "mecca" would change to another part of the state, at least for this year.

See some of you at Cross this evening.

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