The CIAC has little choice but to seed teams based on record, and since a 20-0 record in the Berkshire League is not the same as a 20-0 in the FCIAC it's impossible to simply look at records to determine which teams have the easiest path through a draw in the girls basketball tournaments.
Take Manchester in Class LL. The Indians, with a regular-season record of 19-1 (the CIAC does not consider conference tournaments when it comes to overall record) is the No. 3 seed. As a result, they get a bye in the first round and will meet the winner of St. Joseph (14-6) and Wilbur Cross (13-7) on Friday.
St. Joseph has a solid resume against large schools in a rugged conference. As for Wilbur Cross, one need only look at its 54-50 loss to East Catholic back in December to judge the team. East Catholic took Manchester to double-overtime earlier this season. Bottom-line, there have been easier second round games.
And what is Manchester's reward if it manages to win its second round game? A possible rematch with Glastonbury, the No. 6 seed that defeated the Indians twice, the last time being the CCC championship game. Glastonbury coach Brian Fleming rotates a number of defenders at Ashley Perez, making her work for each one of her points. Perez is good enough to still get them, she had 33 in the championship game loss, but she'll need help.
The good news for Manchester and coach John Reiser is that Miofania Garcia will have time for her injured ankle to heal. Garcia has played three games since returning from the injury but will benefit from the extra rest.
Manchester isn't the only one with a tough draw in the LL tournament. East Catholic (14-6) has done its best to play a rugged schedule (Wilbur Cross, Mercy) but Norwalk (13-7) has no choice. The Eagles will need strong games from Taryn Roy, Megan Murphy and Nicole Ferguson against an opponent that is accustomed to quality teams.
In Class L, E.O. Smith (19-1) may have the toughest draw for a No. 2 seed possible. The Panthers get a first-round bye, but then meet the winner of Northwest Catholic and Brookfield on Thursday. Sure, Brookfield lost some talent to graduation last year and has stepped up to a larger class, but Murphy Murad and her teammates might have expected an easier go of it after an outstanding regular-season.
Windsor (11-9) meets Masuk-Monroe (14-6), which has some ugly losses to top opponents on its resume (58-21 to NFA and 32-18 to Brookfield), but also has a win against Kolbe Cathedral. Windsor will rely on Amanada Lopez, Tasia Franklin, Grace Sansone and A'Lexus Williams for leadership.
Ellington, the No. 4 seed in Class M, will play Ledyard on Tuesday. Ellington's fate will likely be decided by how well it dictates the pace. The Knights can run and Julie Gage and Kelly Conley are a dynamic scoring duo, while Karlee Alves proved in the NCCC tournament she is capable of making clutch shots. In a slow down game, Ellington has sometimes been stymied.
Looming ahead in Ellington's bracket is Trinity Catholic and Weaver-Hartford, both schools accustomed to playing stern competition.
Tolland (15-5) has an interesting road through the Class M tournament. The Eagles lost in overtime to runner-up Brookfield last season and has one of the best players in the state in Kristin Schatzlein. Tolland's road starts Tuesday against Ansonia, whose performance is impossible to judge because it plays all its games within the Naugatuck Valley League.
If Tolland works through that it will get more familiar opponents in either Suffield or Bloomfield. Suffield (15-5 regular season) gave Ellington all it could handle in the NCCC tournament and will rely on Brianna Bishop and Jessica Flagg against a Bloomfield team that started 1-4 but was 11-4 after that.
Windsor Locks is another seasoned team seeking to use a rugged regular-season schedule to its advantage in the Class S tournament.
The Raiders, led by Jessica Kuzmickas, Mariah Brown and Nikki LaPierre, must go through the teeth of the Shoreline Conference, first against the Little Noises of Hale-Ray on Monday and then against Coginchaug.
Meanwhile, Cheney Tech (14-6) will host a Shoreline Conference foe in Old Saybrook on Monday. Cheney relies on sophomore Colleen Cosker, an all-conference player a year ago. A meeting with East Hampton would be next if Cheney can get past its first-round game.
Of course, no matter how hard the draw, the experience of playing in the state tournament is a good one. For teams at East Windsor, Fermi-Enfield or Enfield high schools that fell short this year, there is nothing to do but look ahead to a spring and summer of practice in an effort to get better.