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New England Roundup: Connecticut

3/25/2011

Masuk High School coach Dave Strong has won more games than any other girls high school coach in Connecticut, but he may not win any more.

ConnecticutStrong, 66, announced his resignation Monday after winning 704 games in 35 seasons as a head coach. Strong told the New Haven Register that the move was made for health reasons.

“I’m not in danger of dying, but there are some health things I’ve ignored over the years through coaching,” Strong said.

Strong guided Masuk to the state tournament every season since the tournament was formed in 1974. The Panthers reached the state final seven times and won three state titles during that span. Masuk also won 19 league championships.

His daughter, Julia, was part of his first state championship team in 1990.

Strong was inducted into the National High School Coaches’ Association Hall of Fame in 2009.

Strong was also an assistant coach with the Masuk boys basketball program for seven seasons. In addition, he served as the school’s athletic director for 10 years before he retired in 2005.

“I’ve enjoyed every minute of coaching at Masuk,” Strong told the Courant. “I’m certainly going to miss it.”

HOOP SCOOP

Highlights from last weekend’s boys and girls basketball state championship games:

Class LL Boys: St. Joseph/Trumbull coach Vito Montelli collected his state-best 853rd victory when his second-seeded Cadets beat ninth-seeded Fairfield Prep 79-53. Montelli, 78, has won 10 state titles during his 49 seasons as St. Joseph/Trumbull’s head coach.

Class LL Girls: Sophomore Nicole Anderson made the second of two free throw attempts with 3.7 seconds left and Nicole Bentley added another free throw as Career posted a 39-37 victory over Mercy, which trailed by 11 points in the third quarter.

Class L Boys: Kris Dunn scored a game-high 26 points to lead New London to a 63-55 triumph over Northwest Catholic and its first state championship since 2005 (Division II). New London, which completed its season with a 27-0 record, lost to Stratford in last year’s championship game.

Class L Girls: Hillhouse won its third consecutive title by beating E.O. Smith 77-50. Bria Holmes collected 27 points and 11 rebounds for Hillhouse, which also received 26 points from Hofstra-bound guard Andreana Thomas.

Class M Boys: Kevin Lemeune scored a team-high 17 points and Johnathan Boykin added 14 as Trinity Catholic beat top-seeded Career-Magnet, 57-51. It was the sixth state championship for the Trinity Catholic program.

Class M Girls: Taylor McBride had 10 steals, nine points and seven assists to propel Windham to a 54-46 triumph over Weaver, which committed 29 turnovers in the loss.

Class S Boys: Valley Region won its first state championship by beating Classical, which missed 21 of 23 shots from the field in the first half. Taylor Rioux had 18 points to lead Valley Regional.

Class S Girls: Portland handed coach Nick Chaconis his first state title in 37 years of coaching by defeating Cromwell, 45-41. Lindsey Dionne scored a game-high 14 points for fourth-seeded Portland.

FAIRFIELD PREP WINS HOCKEY TITLE

The Fairfield Prep hockey program collected its fifth title in the last eight years when it beat fourth-seeded St. Joseph 5-0 Saturday in the Division I championship game at Yale University.

Second-seeded Fairfield Prep scored three first-period goals.

“We played as well as we can play today,” Fairfield Prep coach Matt Sather said. “I don’t think there is a whole lot in that game not to be happy about.”

Senior Bryan Puffer had two goals and an assist in the victory, which handed Fairfield Prep its 14th Division I championship and 14th hockey championship overall.

It was the most lopsided Division I title game since Fairfield Prep defeated Notre Dame 8-0 in 2001.

Division II: Cheshire 3, Guilford 1

Tyler Violano scored twice as Cheshire won its second Division II championship in the last three years. Tyler Carbone made 18 saves for Cheshire, which also received a goal from Matt Muzyka.

Division III: Watertown/Pomperaug 4, Staples/Weston/Shelton 0

Trevor St. Onge stopped 31 shots to help Watertown/Pomperaug claim the Division III title in its first championship-game appearance as a co-op program. Jack Murphy scored twice for Watertown/Pomperaug, which also received goals from Kevin Murphy and Ryan Borsari.

RECORD-SETTING PERFORMANCE

The final session of Saturday’s boys and girls state championship games drew a record crowd of 9,566 spectators to Mohegan Sun Arena. The previous record of 8,422 fans was set last year, also in the Saturday night session.

This year’s three sessions also drew a record total of 16,896 fans. Last year’s attendance for the three sessions was 16,183.

Roger Brown has covered high school sports in New England since 1992. He currently covers high school and college football in the Northeast for ESPN/Scouts Inc.