NEW BRITAIN - Area girls basketball teams are set to begin their schedules this week with new hopes.
Only three local teams finished with a winning record last season, but some that finished at or below .500 are expecting improvement this season.
Those that finished above .500 last season were Newington, Southington and New Britain.
Newington was the best, as it finished 13-7. The Indians only graduated one senior last year, all-conference shooting guard Abrial Murray. The Indians will be returning a lot of the same pieces that played last year.
Southington was also very successful last season, finishing 14-10. The Blue Knights return everyone from last year’s team except guard Margaret Meehan and should be expected to see similar results.
Marc Wesoly will be taking over as head coach for the New Britain girls basketball team this year and hopes to lead the Hurricanes into the postseason.
New Britain graduated much of its starting roster from last year, but has plenty of talent returning.
Newington, Innovation and Berlin are all in similar situations entering the 2017-18 season, as all expect to be better this season.
All three teams have a lot of key players returning, and because of that, they expect plenty of improvement.
Innovation struggled last season, finishing 2-9, but only had one senior graduate. The majority of last year’s team is back with another year of varsity experience, so that should lead to improvement.
Here is a closer look at all of the local teams:
Head coach: Marc Wesoly (1st season)
Last year: 11-9
Key losses: Heisuleimar Amparo (C), Jasmia Molina (F), Jamyra Irizarry (F), Dejia Santana (F) Samantha Kilduff (F).
Key returnees: Gabby Roy (sr., G), Inanna Rice (sr., G), Brianna Clarke (jr., F).
Possible newcomers to watch: Emani James (sr., F), Savannah Gonzalez (jr., G), Saniya Pellergrini (so., G), Tianna Sweeney (so., F).
Outlook: Marc Wesoly will be taking over as head coach for New Britain this year. This will be his first head coaching position in girls basketball, although he has coached girls volleyball and softball. He spent the last two seasons as an assistant under former New Britain boys basketball coach Todd Stigliano and was an assistant and later head coach of the Plainville boys program from 2008-14.
The Hurricanes graduated five seniors.
Head coach: Sheila McCabe-King (14th year)
Last year: 9-12
Key losses: Nina D’Amato (G), Alyssa Grant (F), Gabi Vasi (F).
Key returnees: Lyzi Litwinko (G), Angela Perrelli (G).
Newcomers to watch: Ashley Wenzel (G), Winter Yovan (G/F) and Carly Grega (G).
Outlook: Berlin will be young this season, but full of energy and fight.
Alana Garofalo will be returning to the court after a year off from an ACL tear. Berlin also has plenty of new talent that will be seeing lots of varsity time.
Despite their youth, the Redcoats have speed and chemistry on their side. It looks to be an exciting season for the Class M Redcoats while they battle a tough L- and LL-packed regular season schedule.
Head coach: Rick Bangs (5th year)
Last year: 13-7
Key loss: Abrial Murray.
Key returnees: Ashanti Frazier (so.), Aby Flores (jr.), Olivia St. Remy (jr.), Ali Houldcroft (sr.), Maya Gajowiak (jr.), Gio Rivera (sr.).
Newcomers to watch: Sabrina Soler (so.), Erika Cuevas (jr.), Abby Molloy (jr.), Maggie Callahan (jr.), Lexie Harris (so.), Kayla Flores (so.).
Outlook: The Indians will be returning a great deal of experience from last year. Newington won 11 of its last 12 games.
The Indians graduated an all-conference shooting guard in Abrial Murray, but feel they will make up for her absence.
Head coach Rick Bangs thinks that this is one of the most athletic and fast teams that Newington has had since he’s been coaching, and has hopes it will be a contender for the division title this year.
Head coach: Mike Forgione (15th season)
Last year: 14-10
Key loss: Margaret Meehan (G).
Expected key returnees: Janette Wadolowski (sr., G/F), Hartlee Meier (sr., G), Diane Williams (jr., F), Kristen Longley (jr., G) Madison Hulten (so., F), Katie D’Agostino (so., F), Brianna Harris (so., G), Megan Mikosz (so., F).
Outlook: Last year the Blue Knights only returned three players with varsity experience, while the others were freshman. This year, Southington has everyone back except one.
The Blue Knights are looking to have another successful season with seniors Janette Wadolowski and Hartlee Meier leading the way.
Head coach: Jessica Neuweiler (2nd year)
Last year: 5-15
Key losses: Jessica Masco (point guard), Lauren Tanner (C), Taleah McCroey (F).
Key returnees: Caitlin Barker (jr.), Isabel Lozekski (sr.), Samantha Lozefski (jr.), Meghan Guimond (sr.), Amiyah Peters (sr.), Desiree Wesolowski (sr.).
Newcomers to watch: Jaida Vasquez (fr.), Krystyna Miller (fr.).
Outlook: Plainville is coming off a season that was filled with injuries and adversity. This year the Blue Devils are going to be looking to play every inch of the court in hopes of becoming a consistent winner.
The team returns an athletic lineup, including junior Caitlin Barker, who is returning after a season-ending ACL injury. The Blue Devils also have a great freshman class coming in that will look to help contribute to the program.
Head coach: Jeff Bemis (6th season)
Last year: 8-11
Key loss: Tazmaira Baerga (C).
Expected key returnees: Paolo Barbosa (sr., G), Tanija Russell (sr., G).
Outlook: While missing its starting center from last season, Goodwin still has lots of talent from the previous year.
Senior guards Paolo 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.
Head coach: Michael P. Jessie Jr. (8th season)
Last year: 2-9
Key loss: Aidonee Blackstock (G).
Expected key returnees: Aryanna Townsend (jr., G), Bailee Nardi (jr., F).
Outlook: Innovation is coming off of a rough season, but things are looking up. The Ravens only lost one player from last year’s team and will return some key players.