A Perfect Game in baseball is considered the consummate masterpiece in sports.
Twenty seven batters up, twenty seven batters retired. It can’t be topped … unless the pitcher is perfect for 10 innings in a tie game.
New London trumped a Perfect Game with a Perfect Season Saturday, wrapping up a 27-0 record after its 66-57 win over Northwest Catholic for the Class L title at Mohegan Sun Arena.
Twenty seven teams up, twenty seven retired. It can’t be topped. Only a handful of teams in state history have ever equalled it. Only two in New London ’s history of nine CIAC boys’ basketball champions (1988-’89 and 2004-’05 teams) have won them all.
And no previous Whaler team did it with the bulls-eye that this team wore on its back all season.
Now New London will be the Green and "Gold Standard" for all future Whaling City, New London County, and, without stretching hyperbole, State of Connecticut teams to be measured. No team will ever surpass an undefeated record and No. 1 unanimous ranking, as NL learned Monday, in the Register final poll.
"The group was driven," NL coach Craig Parker said. "This is going to be a legendary team in New London County. This team is 27-0, the first team in the County to be No. 1 in the state poll. This is a team that others are going to have to be measured against. They set a great legacy and this team's season is going to be tough to beat."
New London answered every challenge, opening with a road win against defending Class L champ Stratford on an emotional night for the home team, celebrating its CIAC title. The Whalers whipped Harding of the FCIAC by 30, two Rhode Island state title contenders, a good Albany, N.Y. squad and Hartford Public by 25 in a Monday night showcase in January.
There’s no secret that the rest of the state sports community begrudgingly gives eastern Connecticut teams their proper due. If New London had lost to Public, it would have dropped in the poll quicker than Citigroup stock. If they fell in the states, they would have been labeled an ECC phony. The Whalers had no margin of error for what turned out to be a season of the ages.
There were no hitches on and off the court - an impressive double in scholastic sports. New London comported itself with sportsmanlike quality and exhibited an unselfish attitude.
"We expect nothing less from our kids," Parker said.
When guard Doug Henton transferred back to NL from NFA in mid-season, team chemistry hardly saw a ripple of change. Henton, a starter last year, accepted his role off the bench. His presence actually pushed senior transfer Special Rhodes to play his best ball in the season's second half. Rhodes developed into a nice role playing starter.
Torin Childs-Harris exemplified NL's unselfish chemistry by his slight role change. As a junior, Childs-Harris was the Area Player of the Year, averaging nearly 22 points a game. This year, junior Kris Dunn developed into a dominant player at lead guard, one of the state's best who elevated his scoring average from 17 points as a sophomore last year to 26 this year.
Childs-Harris still averaged around 21 points, but Dunn was No. 1 to Childs-Harris' No. 1A. Childs-Harris, though, never questioned that Dunn was skyrocketing into prominence, always stating his goal "was to win a state championship."
It's not an easy thing to see a teammate attain more notoriety, but Childs-Harris, still a Division I prospect in his own right, handled it beautifully.
Dunn Mulls Options
Much like a college star player weighing his options whether to stay in school or turn pro, Dunn is considering whether to remain at New London for his senior year or attend St. Thomas More Prep in Oakdale. At the prep school, he would join his AAU summer ball teammate, 6-10 Andre Drummond, the state’s top-rated recruit. He’d also play a higher level of basketball and likely enhance his stock as a Division I recruit.
“He’s got nothing to prove in high school and has to develop a jump shot,” one seasoned basketball observer said. “He’s a jump shot away from being an All-American type player.”
But to some within the New London sports community, Dunn doesn’t need prep school. He carries a B average and is a sociable, disciplined student athlete. Already, he is commanding attention from Big East programs and Top 25 national teams. Averaging 26 points a game on the state’s No. 1 team, he was arguably the state’s best scholastic player. Drummond was named Gatorade Player of the Year, however, in a somewhat surprising development.
If he stays at New London , he’d pass Tyson Wheeler as the Whalers’ all-time leading scorer, eclipse 2,000 career points, earn the distinction of making All-State for four years and help New London vie for a repeat championship.
In New London, Dunn has attained legendary status. He plays in front of packed gyms. At St. Thomas More, he’ll play in front of college coaches and recruiters but in a sterile atmosphere. The crowds, student sections and overall media coverage lack compared to high school emphasis.
New London hooes the adage “if it aint broke, don’t fix it” applies to Dunn.
Truth in Attendance
Speaking of crowds, many print reports stated that 9,500 watched the New London state title game. Mohegan Area holds 9,500 as capacity, so if the upper deck, as shown in some of Patch photographer Jessie King's wonderful photos, was largely empty, how was the crowd 9,500?
That's because there were 9,500 tickets sold for the CIAC night session, which included three games. There was a peak of about 8,000 people in the Arena for New London-Northwest Catholic. Every person who bought a ticket did not watch all three games.
That's why Patch's story, available at 10 p.m. Saturday, reported that 8,000 watched the game and not 9,500.