Hand's Zeng is the Class M State Diving Champion
Published March 19, 2014. Last updated 04:27 p.m., March 18, 2014
Boys' Swimming and Diving
After claiming an SCC title, Hand's Tianyi Teddy Zeng won the Class M state diving crown on March 13 at Bulkeley with a score of 544.15, taking first place by a comfortable margin over runner-up Sam Baluzy of Brookfield (380.80).
"I am very happy to win this title," said Zeng. "I will keep on practicing and try my best for the next competition."
Next up for Zeng is the State Open for diving, which is on Thursday, March 20 at Middletown at 5:30 p.m.
"Honestly, I don't have any early thoughts on the State Open," said Zeng, who is seeded first in the Open meet. "I only hope that I can have a good performance."
Boys' Ice Hockey
Hand, entering the Division II State Tournament as the No. 13 seed, defeated No. 4 Newington-Berlin-Manchester 4-1 thanks to four unanswered scores in the first round on March 11 prior to a 4-2 victory over No. 5 North Haven in the quarterfinals on March 14.
The Tigers (in their first state semifinal since 2006) then took on No. 1 East Catholic in the semifinals and a win there would put Hand in the final on Friday, March 21 at 7:30 p.m. at Ingalls Rink in New Haven versus either No. 2 Amity or No. 11 Milford.
The Tigers traveled to Northborough, Massachusetts for their first New England Championship in eight years on March 15 and came in fifth with 142.825 points, just 0.125 away from the school record they set earlier this year.
Stefani Taschner placed third on floor with a 9.45 and was Hand's solo individual medalist. She was also in the top 10 for the all-around (9th, 37.2), vault (10th, 9.5), and bars (8th, 9.4). Other scorers included Abby McGuirk (35.9 all-around, 9.0 on beam and vault, and 9.075 on bars); Kendall Jerzyk (35.35 all-around, 9.05 on vault, 8.9 on beam); Maria Iennaco (33.775 all-around, 9.05 on beam); plus Erin Maxwell (33.05 all-around). The Tigers also had Ashlyn Thompson (vault) and Lily Spencer (bars, beam, floor) compete.
"We were really pleased with the results today. We went in hoping to break in to the top five because we knew there were some really strong teams this year so we were excited to place fifth," said Head Coach Kelly Smith. "Not only that, we scored higher than the last two weeks to end the season with our second-highest score this year. It's really a testament to this team that they were able to get above a 142 at states, the State Open, and New Englands. These girls worked incredibly hard and were so consistent and confident in the postseason. We accomplished every one of our team goals this year and, more than anything, we've had a great team dynamic and a fun year."
No. 12 seed Hand opened the Class L State Tournament at home on March 10 against No. 21 New Fairfield and grabbed a 55-50 first-round home victory before losing by that same decision on March 12 versus No. 5 Woodstock Academy in the second round to conclude the season 15-8 overall.
In the first round, Brendan Hughes (19 points, 8 rebounds) got the Tigers rolling, scoring 12 of Hand's first 14 points. Hand used a 16-4 second quarter run to build a 13-point lead heading into the half. New Fairfield came out of the break hot by outscoring the Tigers 20-14 in the third, including a 10-2 run to open the quarter. The visitors continued to attack the Tigers to take a three-point lead at 55-52 with just under two minutes to play. Scott Braren tied the game at 55 from the free- hrow line and then Sam Jablonski (10 points) and Phil Crampton (8 points, 10 boards) scored the next five points to secure Hand's first opening-round victory in two years.
For the next round, after falling behind 10-4, Hughes (16 points) and Crampton (12 points, 8 rebounds) got the Tigers back in control by combining for 18 of Hand's 21 firs quarter points and giving the Tigers a five-point lead. The second saw the Tigers go cold from the floor as the Centaurs scored the first 13 points of the quarter. After going nearly seven minutes without a field goal, Hand closed the half with a 5-0 run sparked by an Andre Frederick (15 points, 10 boards) dunk to trail 29-26 at the half. Woodstock came out after halftime on fire, taking the first eight points en route to a 21-11 period. Down 13 to start the final frame, the Tigers started to press. Frederick led the charge, notching 10 points in the quarter to cut the lead to three with 10 seconds to go. The Tigers turned the Centaurs over again on the ensuing inbound, but missed a layup and were forced to foul.
"We've come back in games like this, but Woodstock is too good. They don't make many mistakes and take care of the ball probably better than anyone else we've played this year," said Frank Rossi. "It's always sad to end this season and this was a special group of seniors who fought until the end."