This is the fourth in a multi-part series highlighting the newest inductees into the Plainville Sports Hall of Fame. The induction ceremonies will be held Saturday, November 20 at Hawk’s Landing in Southington.
1958-59 Boys Basketball Team
The 1958-59 Plainville High School basketball team battled its way to the Class B State Championship title. Along the journey with two starters missing due to illness, their only blemish was a loss to Southington. Making excuses was never the mantra of this era of Plainville basketball and the talented Blue Devils used this loss as motivation to help them capture the CVC Championship, a State Championship and a remarkable 24-1 overall record. This impressive won-loss record was especially noteworthy since they beat state power East Haven twice during the regular season, snapping its 64 home game win streak. In the 1950’s East Haven dominated the state tournament with multiple state championships on its resume.
East Haven had its opportunity to revenge its losses in the semifinal game. This by far was the most anticipated game of the tournament that year and many considered this to be the championship game. Leading by six at the half, East Haven was confident of victory, but led by Hall of Fame coach Pat Riera, in true Blue Devil fashion, the 58-59 team didn’t disappoint with a dramatic 41-39 victory. In the tourney final PHS resoundingly beat Lyman Hall 59-47 to capture the Class B State Championship crown. John Gacek, Brian Brooks and Ted Davis were named to the All Tournament team. Additional honors also followed as both co-captains, Gacek and Brooks, were named to the 1958-59 Class B All-State team.
One of the most accomplished teams in Plainville basketball history was coached by two Hall of Fame coaches, Pat Riera and Joe Dehm. Additionally seven current Hall of Famers: John Gacek, Brian Brooks, Jim Tufts, Steve Vargo, Roger Roy, Ted Davis and Bob Dalke were players on the 1958-59 Class B state title team.
2000-01 Girls Basketball Team
The 2001 Class M State Champions were the first female team to win a state title for Plainville High School. After compiling a 15-5 regular season record, they were seeded eighth in the Class M tournament. The team beat the Nos. 1, 2, 4, 9 and 25th seeds to finish the season with a record of 21-6. Of the six games they lost, two were to another state championship team and three were to a state semifinalist team.
After narrowly making the tournament for the first time in years the previous season, the buzz prior to game one in December was still as loud. The bleachers were packed. Led by senior co-captains Jessica Casinghino and Shelley Everson, the 2001 team had size (three starters 5-10 or taller), speed, quickness and two precocious, but unproven freshmen guards. The team rolled to victory after victory.
The team averaged 50 points per game while holding opponents to just 38 (credit Megan Ferguson with guarding the opposing team’s best athlete). The Plainville roster had five players in the top 25 in scoring in the area. This included seniors Jess Casinghino, 11.8, Shelley Everson, 9.7, freshman Jen Dabrowski, 9.1, juniors Shana Lucente, 8.3, and Corrine Byrne, 7. Even with their leadership, it was a true team effort. Any player was capable of carrying the team on any given night.
When defenses doubled up on Cas, the guards took over from the outside. Dabrowski shot 70% from beyond the arc that year. And when she wasn’t shooting, she was passing to Lucente who was tough to guard because of her size and ability to hit from the outside and drive to the basket. Byrne took care of the misses with rebound after rebound. In fact, she garnered MVP honors of the championship game with double-digit scoring with put back points. The minutes that Megan Susco and Diana Heubner spelled the starters were also significant. Add in the efforts and unselfish attitudes of role players like Regina Crane, Allison Caswell, Rachel Caron and Kat Spirito, and the result was a well-prepared, well-rounded, balanced and physical state championship team.
Coached by Lisa Mandeville and assisted by Lou Mandeville and Steve Compson, the team was a tremendous source of pride for the Plainville community. Fans filled the seats night after night to watch the Lady Blue Devils play as a team. Plainville fans were the best “sixth man” in the state. Even the newspaper reporters were faithful followers. Many of them couldn’t wait to write articles about the darlings of Plainville High School. The 2001 Lady Blue Devils combined talent and athleticism with an unselfish attitude, passion and determination to win the hearts of Plainville alumni both near and far. They finished the season ranked No. 8 overall in the Hartford Courant poll, but No. 1 in the hearts of the Plainville Fans.
In 2020, the New Britain Herald ranked the 2001 Class M State Champions among the top 10 best all-time girls basketball teams in the area.
Tickets for the induction ceremonies may be purchased at Modern Barbershop, Angelo’s, Gnazzo’s and The Central Connecticut Dental Group (Dr. Rusty Camp). For additional ticket information, visit plainvillesports.com.