Area girls basketball teams expecting to be better as new season begins

Published on Sunday, 11 December 2016 22:25
Written by MICHAEL WOOLFSON

STAFF WRITER

The local girls basketball teams are set to begin their schedules this week and with a new season starting it means there is new hope for every team regardless of how last year went. Only three local teams finished with a winning record a year ago, but some of the teams that finished at or below .500 are expecting improvement this season.

The three teams that finished above .500 last season were Southington, Goodwin Tech and New Britain. Southington was the best of those three schools as it finished 20-5. There are some questions, but the Blue Knights return a lot of the same pieces to its roster that played last season. Goodwin Tech has to replace its best and most diverse player and the same could be said for New Britain.

Newington, Innovation and Berlin are all in similar situations entering the 2016-17 season. All three teams finished near, or at, .500 but they all expect to be better this season. All three teams have a lot of key players returning this season and because of that they expect for improvement in their records from last season.

Plainville is a team that struggled last season as it finished 3-17 but the good news is that the Blue Devils had no key losses. The majority of last year’s team is back with another year varsity experience under its belt so that should lead to improvement under first year coach Jessica Hanchette.

Here is a closer look at all of the local teams:

New Britain

Head Coach: Tasha Manzie (9th season)

Last Year: 14-6 (0-1 in state tournament)

Key Losses: Kelsey Hernandez (Guard)

Key Returnees: Dejia Santana (Senior/Forward), Gabriella Roy (Junior/Guard)

Outlook: The New Britain girls basketball team if coming off of a season where it finished 14-6 and qualified for the state tournament. The Hurricanes were eliminated in the first round of the state tournament, but it was still a successful season. This year the team will have to deal with the loss of guard Kelsey Hernandez, but it will do so with several players that are returning from last year’s team. Dejia Santana and Gabriella Roy are among the returnees who will be counted on to have big seasons for the Hurricanes.

Berlin

Head Coach: Sheila McCabe King (13th season)

Last Year: 8-13

Key Losses: None

Key Returnees: Nina D’Amato (Senior/Guard), Alyssa Grant (Senior/Guard), Gabi Vasi (Senior/Forward), Angela Perrelli (Sophomore/Guard)

Key Newcomers: Lyzi Litwinko (Freshman/Guard), Alexis Kumm (Freshman/Forward)

Outlook: The Berlin girls basketball team is coming off of season where it finished several games below .500. This year though, the Redcoats have high expectations as they return a lot of key players and have an influx of young talent. Alyssa Grant was all conference a season ago and she averaged 13 points and seven rebounds per game a season ago. Nina D’Amato and Gabi Vasi are among the other key returnees. Head coach Sheila McCabe King believes her team has a good mix of young players and seniors so the team expects to improve on last year’s record. The team has had to deal with some preseason injuries, but that hasn’t altered the coach’s confidence in her team.

Southington

Head Coach: Mike Forgione (14th season)

Last Year: 20-5

Key Losses: Natalia Wadolowski (Forward)

Key Returnees: Maggie Meehan (Senior/Point Guard), Janette Wadolowski (Junior/Guard/Forward), Hartlee Meier (Junior/Guard), Diane Williams (Sophomore/Forward), Kristen Longley (Sophomore/Guard).

Key Newcomers: Madison Hulten (Freshman/Forward), Katie D’Agostino (Freshman/Forward), Brianna Harris (Freshman/Guard), Megan Mikosz (Freshman/Forward).

Outlook: The Southington girls basketball team is coming off of an excellent season where it went 20-5 in the regular season. The Blue Knights lost in the semifinals of the CCC tournament and lost in the second round of the state playoffs to a Greenwich team that lost in the finals. This season is a bit of a question mark for Southington though, as it only returns three players with varsity experience and will be starting two freshmen at the forward positions. The guards should lead the way for the Blue Knights this season as they are the three players with experience. But how good Southington is this season will come down to the development of the young players and how they mesh with the seniors.

Newington

Head Coach: Rick Bangs (4th season)

Last Year: 10-10 (0-1 in state tournament)

Key Losses: Kaila Lozada (Point Guard), Sarah Ericson (Forward)

Key Returnees: Abrial Murray (Senior/Guard), Ariel Keen (Senior/Forward), Aby Flores (Sophomore/Guard), Gio Rivera (Junior/Forward), Ali Houldcroft (Junior/Guard), Maya Gajowiak (Sophomore/Forward), Olivia St. Remy (Sophomore/Center)  Bianca Hutchinson (Junior/Guard)

Outlook: The Newington girls basketball team is coming off a season where it made the state tournament with 10 regular season wins. The Indians lost in the first round but they return a lot of key players from last year’s team. Newington will have to replace Kaila Lozada, the team’s best player last season, but it may be able to do so with senior guard Abrial Murray who will be back from a knee injury and is a former All-Conference player. Head coach Rick Bangs plans to play fast this season because he believes this may be the most athletic team he has had in his Newington tenure.

Plainville

Head Coach: Jessica Hanchette (1st season)

Last Year: 3-17

Key Losses: None

Key Returnees: Jessica Masco (Senior/Point Guard), Taleah McCrorey (Senior/Guard), Lauren Tanner (Senior/Center), Cheyenne Emmendorfer (Junior/Guard), Meghan Guimond (Junior/Forward), Isabel Lozefski (Junior/Point Guard), Amiyah Peters (Junior/Point Guard), Desiree Wesolowski (Junior/Forward), Caitlin Barker (Sophomore/Guard), Samantha Lozefski (Sophomore/Point Guard).

Outlook: The Plainville girls basketball team is coming off of a rough 3-17 season, but things are looking up for this year. The Blue Devils have no key losses from last year’s team and returns a lot of their players. Jessica Masco, Lauren Tanner and Taleah McCrorey are the captains this season and are expected to lead the team, while Caitlin Barker and Cheyenne Emmendorfer are expected to play large roles as well. New head coach Jessica Hanchette expects her team to exhibit a lot of athleticism this season and think the team can score from all positions on the court.

Goodwin Tech

Head Coach: Jeff Bemis (5th season)

Last Year: 14-7

Key Losses: Nashaley Viera (Guard), Ashley Santiago (Forward)

Key Returnees: Paolo Barbosa (Junior/Guard), Tazmira Baerga (Senior/Center), Tanija Russell (Junior/Guard)

Outlook: The Goodwin Tech basketball team is coming off a very successful 2015-16 season where it finished 14-7 and won a playoff game for the first time in recent memory. This season though, there is a big hole to fill for the Gladiators as Nashaley Viera averaged 16 points, 12 rebounds, five steals and five assists per game last year. Paola Barbosa and Tanija Russell are two of the players that will be tasked with taking on more responsibility, but they will need some of their teammates to emerge. Russell is a very good defender and rebounder while Barbosa has shown a lot of potential.

Innovation

Head Coach: Michael P. Jessie Jr. (7thseason)

Last Year: 9-12

Key Losses: None

Key Returnees: Aidonee Blackstock (Senior/Guard), Aryanna Townsend (Junior/Guard), Bailee Nardi

(Junior/Forward).

Outlook: The Innovation girls basketball team (formerly Med-Ed Prep) is coming off a season where it finished a little bit below .500, but qualified to the postseason. This season the Ravens expect to be an improved team. Innovation only lost one player from last year’s team and it returns a few key players like Aidonee Blackstock, Aryanna Townsend and Bailee Nardi. The strength of this Ravens team should be its athleticism and speed, but something it needs to work on is its basketball IQ. If the team improves its overall IQ coach Jessie thinks it could improve on last year’s record.



Posted in New Britain Herald, Berlin, General Sports, Goodwin Tech, Innovation, New Britain, Newington, Plainville, Southington on Sunday, 11 December 2016 22:25. Updated: Sunday, 11 December 2016 22:27.