Boys basketball: Gaels to compete in new division

The Shelton High boys basketball team will compete for a spot in the state tournament in a new division that was designed by the CIAC for the upcoming season.

The CIAC Board of Control voted to approve the proposal that will feature five divisions for this upcoming season. It is a one-year trial format.

Coach Brian Gardiner’s Gaels, who split games in last year’s Class LL tourney, have been placed in Division II.

“Stratford was in L and is now in Division III,” Gardiner said. “That makes sense considering that after you take out the twenty one schools that are now in Division I, it looks like Division II is mainly LL schools. Division III is mostly L schools, etc.

"Based on what I see, Stratford is properly placed. Bunnell is also Division III. As for us, our goals (berths in the SCC and state tourney) are the same.”

Every team in Division I will qualify for the state tournament, regardless of record.

There are at least 39 teams in each of the other four divisions. Teams must win at least 40 percent of its games to qualify for the postseason.

The committee has done away with filling the brackets for teams with six or seven victories.

Bunnell coach Pat Yerina said, “We have always been an L school. Looking at Division III I see some of the same schools. I think the CIAC is trying to level the playing field. At Bunnell, we have always scheduled top teams in the area and like tough competition. Being in Division III doesn't change our approach. We will try to improve all season and hope to be playing our best basketball come tournament time.”

Teams were placed in the five divisions on the basis of enrollment, the power point system the CIAC employs (determined by sum of wins of opponents they defeated over the past three seasons), postseason success for both league and state tournaments and the overall strength of the conference a team plays in.

Input from its member schools helped shape the original proposal, created more than a year ago, leading to the vote by the Board of Controls after the boys committee voted unanimously for it.

"This new format is the result of a lot of hard work from members of our boys basketball committee and aims to address the concerns we've heard from our membership about inequity challenges specific to the boys basketball tournament," CAS-CIAC executive director Karissa Niehoff said in a press release.

"CIAC is grateful for the feedback and participation of the CHSCA and CAAD along with all our member schools in vetting this proposal and we look forward to its implementation and an exciting boys basketball tournament."

Joining Shelton in Division II will be Bloomfield, Bridgeport Central, Bristol Central, Cheshire, Immaculate of Danbury, Darien, Fairfield Ludlowe, Fairfield Warde, Glastonbury, Greenwich, Hartford Public, Ledyard, Manchester, Maloney of Meriden, Middletown High, Xavier, Naugatuck, New Britain Career of New Haven, New London, New Milford, Newington, Newtown, Norwalk, McMahon of Norwalk, Simsbury, South Windsor, Pomperaug of Southbury, Stamford, Westhill of Stamford, Stamford, St. Joseph, Career of Waterbury, Wilby, West Haven, Staples, Wethersfield, Wilton and Amity.