2018-19 H.S. girls' basketball preview capsules

New London center Tai Pagan (30), an All-Area pick last season, returns to lead the Whalers this season. New London had a perfect 20-0 regular season and won the ECC Divison I tournament a year ago before losing in the Class LL quarterfinals to Enfield. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
New London center Tai Pagan (30), an All-Area pick last season, returns to lead the Whalers this season. New London had a perfect 20-0 regular season and won the ECC Divison I tournament a year ago before losing in the Class LL quarterfinals to Enfield. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)

ECC Division I

East Lyme

Coach: Sal Fiorillo (3rd year)

Key returnees: Sr. G Megan Bauman, Jr. G Sophie Dubreuil, Sr. G Katie Durkee, Jr. C Nadia Tarhini.

Outlook: The Vikings went 15-9 a year ago, reaching the Class L quarterfinals before losing to Wethersfield 71-69 in overtime. Fiorillo returns all of his major players, including captains Bauman and Durkee. Bauman, an All-Area pick, averaged 17.3 points, 6.3 assists and 5.1 rebounds while Dubreuil averaged 12.5 points, Durkee 7.3 points and Tarhini 9.2 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.5 blocks per game. "We are very happy with our progess," Fiorillo said. "Our leadership this coming season is strong."

New London

Coach: Holly Misto (5th year)

Key returnees: Sr. F Xaryia Melendez, Sr. C Tai Pagan, Sr. G Spencer Roman, Sr. G Dajah Uzzle.

Top newcomers: Sr. G Olivia Yard, Jr. G Desiree Johnson, Jr. G Anaya Vega, Jr. G Wendy Gathers, So. G Jayden Burns, Fr. G Joniyah Bland-Fitzpatrick.

Outlook: The Whalers had a perfect regular season (20-0), dominated the ECC Division I tournament and were ranked No. 1 in the state most of the season until being upset by Enfield in the Class LL quarterfinals. They must replace guard Rosi Nicholson, The Day's All-Area Player of the Year, but All-Area picks Melendez and Pagan return along with the veteran Roman. Newcomers will be called upon to provide key minutes and depth, but Misto believes New London will challenge for another ECC title and be competitive with everyone on its schedule. The Whalers open Wednesday with a matchup at Capital Prep.

NFA

Coach: Bill Scarlata (27th year)

Key returnees: Sr. C Carsen Keith, Sr. G Maddy Perrino, Sr. F Georgia Woodcock, Jr. F Caitlin Dooley, Jr. G Riley Ellington, Jr. G Bella Graziano, So. G Sarah Ericson, So. G Jenissa Varella.

Top newcomers: Jr. F Shante Talley, Jr. G Errien Williams, So. F Anajah Ingram.

Outlook: The Wildcats went 11-9 a year ago, but reached the ECC Division I final before losing to New London. NFA has a solid nucleus of returning players and some talented newcomers. The trick, however, is putting the pieces together. "It's going to be a work in progress," Scarlata said. "We're working on different styles to fit our team makeup."

ECC Division II

Fitch

Coach: D.J. Berger (2nd year)

Key returnees: Sr. C Mikayla Charles-Hayley, Sr. G Nicole Cabusao, Jr. G Nyseanah Ismael, So. G Francesca Foster, So. C Charlotte Carney, So. F Alyssa Virtue, So. G Ashley Morrell, Jr. G Ayieasha Carter, Jr. G Alondra Santos, So. F Arianna Timmerman.

Top newcomers: Fr. G Rita Sefransky, Fr. G Katelyn Cervini, Fr. G Faith Smallwood, Fr. G Anna Servidio, Fr. F Nora Casey, Fr. F Trinidey Moone.

Outlook: The Falcons, who were 2-18 a year ago, move down to Division II and will feature a young roster mostly made up of sophomores and freshmen. But there is some experience and definitely some talent. "I like what I see so far from our younger girls," Berger said. "What we lack in experience we hope to make up in hard work and intensity. We will get better every day as the season goes on."

Ledyard

Coach: Michael Morgan (1st year)

Key returnees: Jr. F Tajeah Winston, So. G/F Natalie Poulton, Sr. G Katie Krupansky, Sr. F Miranda Chesnut, Sr. G Jessica Callahan.

Top newcomers: Jr. F Kayleigh Woomer, So. G Keyanna Metts, So. G Samantha Fancher, Fr. G Sam Money, Fr. G/F Brooke Beckwith, So. F Ayanna Wiltshire, Fr. F Nicole Walker.

Outlook: Morgan takes over a program that went 9-11 and graduated a pair of four-year starters in guards Sarah Serbascewicz and Julie Lavin. Winston will start for the third straight season and Morgan expects some big contributions from two seniors (Chesnut and Krupansky) who did not play last year. The Colonels will be young (freshman Money will start at the point), but should be competitive in the new division.

Stonington

Coach: Paulla Solar (27th year)

Key returnees: Sr. G Kate Johnson, Sr. C Izadora Yarnall, Sr. G Miranda Arruda, Sr. F Aliza Bell.

Top newcomers: Jr. G Zoe Ribeiro, Fr. G Sandy McGugan, So. C Sophia Bell, Jr. F Olivia Fustini, So. G Maggie Daley, So. G Tori LoPresto.

Outlook: The Bears are coming off a 14-6 regular season and a postseason run to the Class M state quarterfinals. Solar returns a veteran cast that should challenge for the Division II title and be competitive at the state level, as well.

Waterford

Coach: Brian Fleming (2nd year)

Key returnees: Sr. G/F Julianna Bonilla, Sr. G Lili Stoddard, Jr. F Marilyn Childs, So. G Amy Pinch, So. G Gaby Kramer, Sr. G/F Lily Kramer.

Top newcomer: Fr. G/F Milena Walker.

Outlook: The Lancers went 11-9 during the regular season, but then won the ECC Division II tournament, beating Lyman Memorial in the final. Waterford should be in the mix again with a nice blend of senior leadership and a group of promising sophomores and freshmen. Fleming has also beefed up his nonconference schedule with the addition of Rocky Hill, Wethersfield and Bethel.

ECC Division IV

Montville

Coach: Becky Alfonso (2nd year)

Key returnees: Sr. G Kara Beaupre, Sr. G Lauren Velazquez.

Top newcomers: Sr. G Abby Diamantini, Sr. F Haley Kerwin, Jr. GF Emma Hillman, Fr. F Maya Hillman.

Outlook: The Indians went 6-14 in Alfonso's debut and reached the ECC Division II quarters, but there were heavy graduation losses and Montville will have to rely on the leadership of returning starters Beaupre and Velazquez to bring along a young, but talented group. "We will be in the learning stage early on," Alfonso said, "but the willingness to try and learn quickly has been great during this preseason."

St. Bernard

Coach: Mike Nystrom (35th year)

Key returnees: Sr. G/F Emily Nelson, Jr. G Carly Potts, Jr. F/C Amber Caldwell, So. G Lindsey Clement.

Top newcomers: Jr. G Taryn Bellinger, So. F Olivia Massad, Fr. G Sophia Boras.

Outlook: The Saints rode a five-game winning streak late in the season to finish 8-12 and qualify for the ECC and Class S tournaments, and return four players who made valuable contributions. Nelson, the captain, led St. Bernard in scoring last year and Nystrom is excited to have nine freshmen join the program. "I think we can be very competitive with most teams on our schedule," he said.

Wheeler

Coach: Christine Corah (4th year)

Key returnees: Sr. F Savannah Galluci, So. F Molly Butremovic, Jr. G Sam Caster, So. G Annie Dussault.

Top newcomers: Fr. G Adelaide Hauptmann, Fr. F Leah Pion, Fr. G Katelyn Melinosky.

Outlook: The Lions challenged for a postseason berth, but settled for a 6-14 record after losing their final three games. Wheeler is forced to practice and play away from home while its gymnasium undergoes renovations, but Corah believes her team will be competitive in Division IV. The four returning players played key roles a year ago and the Lions welcome a talented freshmen class. 

Others

Grasso Tech

Coach: Jeffrey Duda (8th year)

Key returnees: So. F/C Samarie Delgado, Sr. G Hannah Vandevander, So. F Keylin Robles, Sr. F Erin Blake.

Top newcomer: Fr. G J'Zaria Hazard.

Outlook: The Eagles, who move into the new Connecticut Technical Conference, return the bulk of their lineup, and Duda is confident Grasso Tech will improve upon its 1-17 record of a year ago.

Norwich Tech

Coach: Dhana Tulloch-Reid (1st year)

Key returnees: Sr. F Julia Robert, Jr. G Geovanna Taitague, Jr. G Ashley Williams.

Top newcomers: Fr. F Ashlyn Bill, So. G/F De'Zhane Parker-Johnson, So. G/F Lucie Jules.

Outlook: Tulloch-Reid takes over a young, inexperienced team that has "a lot of upside." The Warriors are coming off a 3-15 season and move into a new conference (Connecticut Technical Conference), but Tulloch-Reid said, "If the pieces fall into place, we should post a better record than last season."

Old Lyme

Coach: Don Bugbee (20th year)

Key returnees: Sr. G Britney DeRoehn, Sr. G Catey Battalino, So. F Emma McCulloch.

Top newcomers: Jr. G Bella Arias, Jr. C Taylor Thompson, So. G Emily DeRoehn, So. F Fiona Frederiks, So. G Samantha Gray, So. F Grace Lathrop, So. G Kelly Walsh, So. G Alison Ward, So. Ellery Zrenda, Fr. G Lauren Creagan, Fr. G Victoria Gage, Fr. G Ali Kyle, Fr. F Megan Loflin, F. G Adeline Riccio, Fr. F McLean Signora, Fr. F Madison Thompson, Fr. G Melanie Warren.

Outlook: Britney DeRoehn is the only returning starter from a team that went 14-6 in the regular season and won its opener in the Class S tournament, but Battalino and McCulloch gained experience and Bugbee is excited about the future with 16 of the 20 players on the roster being freshmen and sophomores. "At this point all players are competing for their spots," Bugbee said. "There are plenty of opportunities for everyone to work hard, step up their game and help make this a successful season at both the JV and varsity levels."

Williams

Coach: Scott Hockford (1st year)

Key returnees: So. G Olivia Kaplan, Jr. G/F Katie Burzin, Jr. F Mary Madaus.

Top newcomers: So. G/F Lily Sabetta, So. F Anna Mae Saunders, So. G Navia Ladd, 8th G Mary Surprenant.

Outlook: Hockford takes over a team that is young and inexperienced and with little varsity experience. "I am sure we will have some growing pains," Hockford said, adding, "we're hoping for improvement and some victories as we work our way through the season."

East Lyme's Megan Bauman, right, a member of The Day's All-Area team a year ago, drives against Stonington's Miranda Arruda during an ECC Division I tournament game last season. Both players return this winter. (Dana Jensen/The Day)
East Lyme's Megan Bauman, right, a member of The Day's All-Area team a year ago, drives against Stonington's Miranda Arruda during an ECC Division I tournament game last season. Both players return this winter. (Dana Jensen/The Day)

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