H.S. girls' basketball / 2017-18 preview capsules
ECC Division I
Coach: Sal Fiorillo (2nd year).
Key returnees: Jr. G Megan Bauman, So. G Sophie Dubreuil, Jr. G Katie Durkee, So. C Nadia Tarhini.
Top newcomers: So. Julia Fenn, So. Amelia Anglin, So. Alivia Catanzaro.
Outlook: The Vikings have the best of combinations — youth and experience — as they enter their second season under Fiorillo. They have three solid guards in Bauman (12 points, 5.3 assists, 4.5 rebounds as a sophomore), Dubreuil and Durkee, plus a strong inside presence in Tarhini, who averaged three blocks per game as a freshman. East Lyme, which went 11-9 in the regular season and won a Class L tourney game (over Brookfield), doesn't have a senior in the program and Fiorillo expects the Vikings to be a factor in Division I. They have also beefed up their nonconference schedule with games against Weaver, East Haven and Notre Dame of Fairfield.
Coach: D.J. Berger (1st year).
Key returnees: Jr. F Ciara Jimenez, Jr. G Jazzlyn Henderson, Jr. G Nicole Cabusao, Jr. F Mikayla Charles-Haley, So. G Nyseanah Ishmael, So. G Maggie O'Leary, So. G Molly Bresnahan, So. G Ellie Hohlfelder.
Top newcomers: Fr. C Charlotte Carney, Fr. F Alyssa Virtue, Fr. G Francesca Foster.
Outlook: Fitch has a team with no seniors that is learning a new system under Berger, who takes over as head coach. "The team will have growing pains, but we are looking for players to step up and learn on the fly," Berger said. Berger said he believes what the Falcons lack in experience, they will make up for in athleticism. Fitch was 1-19 during the regular season.
Coach: Peter Vincent (4th year).
Key returnees: Sr. G Sarah Serbascewicz, Sr. G Julia Lavin, So. C Tajeah Winston, So. G Jade Langworthy.
Top newcomers: Fr. F Natalie Poulton, Sr. F E.J. Morales, Jr. F Jessica Callahan.
Outlook: The Colonels were competitive in a strong division a year ago, finishing 10-10 overall (3-5 in Division I). They will be a young team, starting two sophomores and a freshman, but the good news is Vincent welcomes back Serbascewicz and Lavin, a pair of four-year starters. "Our goal is to get better every day," Vincent said, "and begin to develop team chemistry with so many younger players."
Coach: Holly Misto (4th year).
Key returnees: Sr. G Rosalee Nicholson, Sr. G Cora Sawyer, Sr. G Leilani McClellan, Jr. F Xaryia Melendez, Jr. C Taina Pagan, Jr. G Spencer Roman.
Top newcomers: Jr. G Sophia Torrez, Jr. G Da'Jah Uzzle, Sr. F Madison Keefe.
Outlook: The Whalers are coming off a magical season that ended when they hoisted the Class LL state championship trophy at Mohegan Sun Arena and were voted No. 1 in the final state poll. Gone are a pair of all-staters and Division I players in Jada Lucas (Hartford) and India Pagan (Stony Brook), but Misto welcomes back a number of key contributors from that 26-2 team, which captured the ECC tournament title, as well. Said Misto: "If the girls continue to work hard as a team, we should be competitive. We have a very difficult schedule and look forward to the challenge night in and night out."
Coach: Bill Scarlata (26th year).
Key returnees: Sr. G Kayley Ericson, Jr. G Maddy Perrino, Jr. G Carson Keith, So. F Makayla Poirier-Vaughters.
Top newcomers: Jr. F Arianna Fort, Jr. F Georgia Woodcock, So. F Aaliyah Britain, So. F Caitlyn Dooley, So. G Riley Ellington, So. F Zoe Furman-Cox, So. G Bella Graziano, So. G Wendy Gathers, Fr. G Jayden Burns, Fr. G Sarah Ericson, Fr. G Jenissa Varella.
Outlook: Kayley Ericson and Poirier-Vaughters return to the starting lineup, but NFA — which finished 20-6 and shared the ECC Division I title with New London — went from extremely experienced to overwhelmingly young with the graduation of last year's seniors. Scarlata said the young players looking to get in the mix are athletic, however, and that practices have been competitive. The Wildcats reached the Class LL quarterfinals last year before falling to Trumbull.
ECC Division II
Coach: Rebecca Alfonso (1st year).
Key returnees: Sr. F Emily Meigs, Jr. G Kara Beaupre, Sr. G Sierra Talley, Sr. F Angel Skulczyck, Sr. G Emmiley Genua.
Top newcomers: Jr. G Lauren Velazquez, Sr. F Amanda Perkins, Jr. G Abby Diamantini, Jr. F Nia Muckenthaler, So. F Alexis Michon.
Outlook: Alfonso, a former assistant, takes over the program for Sam Cheung and will lean heavily on returning starters Meigs and Beaupre. But a number of other players did see crucial varsity minutes during a 5-15 season and Alfonso is hopeful the Indians can challenge for a state tournament berth this winter. "Our goals are to compete in the division and improve every day," she said. "I am hoping the leadership of the upperclassmen will provide some spark to get us back into the postseason."
Coach: Paulla Solar (26th season).
Key returnees: Sr. G Kate Hall, Jr. G Kate Johnson, Jr. F Aliza Bell, Sr. G Elise Cataldi, Jr. G Miranda Arruda.
Top newcomers: Jr. C Izadora Yarnall, So. F Zoe Ribeiro, So. G Aurora Vennari.
Outlook: The Bears return a solid nucleus from a team that finished 13-7 in the regular season and lost a one-point heartbreaker to Brookfield in the Class M first round. The five returning players were all key contributors, led by the speedy Hall in the backcourt and one of the ECC's top rebounders in Bell. "We're very excited for this year," said Solar, who should be in the division mix with Bacon Academy and Waterford.
Coach: Brian Fleming (1st year).
Key returnees: Sr. F Bekah Sanders, Sr. G Ashley Goldstein, Jr. G/F Julianna Bonilla, Jr. F Olivia Pacheco, Jr. F Lily Stoddard, So. F Marylin Child, So. G Anna Schleck.
Outlook: Fleming, who spent the last three seasons as an assistant at Connecticut College after leading Glastonbury to three consecutive CCC tournament championships (2011-13), takes over a program that went 20-6 last season, won the Division II title and reached the Class M semifinals before losing to eventual champion New Fairfield 46-43. Guard Mia Brennan, a member of The Day's All-Area team, graduated along with post Kayla Jean-Pierre, but the Lancers return three starters and Fleming expects Waterford "to compete for another division title as well as make another deep run in the state tournament."
ECC Division III
Coach: Mike Nystrom (34th year).
Key returnees: Sr. G/F Brianna Beverly, Jr. G Emily Nelson, Sr. G Emily Smith.
Top newcomers: So. G Carly Potts, So. F/C Amber Caldwell, So. G Taryn Bellinger, Fr. G Lindsay Clement, Fr. G Olivia Massad.
Outlook: The Saints must replace three starters, including all-state center Caitlyn Dittman, the program's career scoring leader, from a team that went 17-7 and reached the ECC Division II tournament title game. Beverly, Nelson and Smith will provide St. Bernard with some experience, but the ability of Nystrom's newcomers to develop quickly will be key in order for the Saints to compete for a division title.
Coach: Christine Corah (3rd year).
Key returnees: Sr. G Emma Morgan, Jr. G/F Savannah Gallucci, Jr. G Daniela Roy, Jr. G Jessica Neddeau, Jr. G Lydia Robert, So. G Samantha Caster.
Top newcomers: Fr. G Annie Dussault, Fr. F Amarie Bransford, Fr. F Molly Butremovic, Fr. G/F Jessica Johnson.
Outlook: The Lions were 3-17 a year ago, but return plenty of experience and have some solid newcomers that will provide depth. The loss of center Raina Hasse and forward Samantha Muller will force Wheeler to take a more guard-oriented approach this season, although Corah said, "everyone will be responsible for a variety of roles as we continue to work on fundamentals, communication and team fluidity."
Coach: Jeff Duda (7th year).
Key returnees: Sr. G Morgan McNeil, Sr. F Elisa LeBron, Jr. F Hannah Vandevender, Jr. F Erin Blake.
Top newcomers: Fr. F Sammarie Delgado, Fr. Lesley Melendez, Jr. F Keylin Robles.
Outlook: The Eagles are coming off a winless season, but return some key pieces and are excited about playing in a new conference, the Connecticut Technical Conference. Qualifying for the CTC tournament is a realistic goal for Grasso Tech, especially if the newcomers adapt quickly.
Coach: Don Bugbee (19th year).
Key returnees: Sr. G Audrey Gavin, Sr. G Jordan Lewis, Sr. F Emily Rivera, Sr. G Maddie Zrenda.
Top newcomers: Jr. G Catey Battalino, Jr. G Britney DeRoehn, So. C Taylor Thompson, So. G Lydia Tinnerello, So. G Bella Arias, Fr. C Emma McCulloch.
Outlook: Bugbee expects the Wildcats to be competitive, as they usually are, in the Shoreline Conference and Class S and hopes to at least match last season's 14-9 record. "We've got a solid group of experienced players back and a good group coming in, including 11 freshmen,'' said Bugbee.
Coach: Aimee Fador (2nd year).
Key returnees: Sr. G/F Katia Bourganos, So. G/F Audrey Matson, So. F Lexi Day.
Top newcomers: Sr. C Marie Grillow, Fr. G Olivia Kaplan.
Outlook: The Blues are coming off a solid season in Fador's coaching debut, and she expects her team to challenge for a SENE title. Bourganos, Matson and Day earned valuable experience a year ago and Fador can't wait to add freshman Grillow and Kaplan to the mix. Kaplan is starting at point guard for Williams, which is already off to a strong 3-1 start.
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