The 2016-17 girls basketball season among area high school teams featured two outstanding squads and two others that struggled to find success.
The highlight was the success of St. Paul, which went 17-3 in the regular season, then won three straight tough games to claim its first ever NVL Tournament championship, then won a pair of games in the Class M state tournament before bowing in the quarterfinal round, finishing 22-4 overall.
Bristol Eastern enjoyed similar success, going 17-7 overall, including a run into the second round of the Class LL state tournament.
Terryville (4-16) and Bristol Central (1-19) had rough seasons, but both had some solid players and began to set a foundation for future success.
All four area teams have at least one representative on our 9th annual All-Press Girls Basketball Team.
Not surprisingly, St. Paul and Bristol Eastern lead the way by combining for all five of our first-team selections: senior forward and three-time selection Diana Wnuk and junior point guard and repeat selection Hannah Maghini of the Lancers; plus senior guard, captain and repeat selection Brigid Johndrow, freshman guard Janessa Gonzalez and freshman center Jade Udoh from the Falcons.
Wnuk ended the season with 377 points, starting every game and leading the team in points per game (15.8), rebounds (9.2, 88 total offensive and 228 total overall), blocks (1.5, total of 40) and steals (2.6, 36 total). She also sank 11 3-pointers and hit 92 free-throws, second-most on the team.
In state tournament play, Wnuk averaged 13.5 points, 13.0 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 3.5 blocks per game, She sccored a season-best 25 points at Plainville and collected 14 rebounds against Lyman Hall for her top totals of the year. She’s been an all-conference selection in each of the past two seasons.
Maghini “put up some of the best 3-point shooting numbers in the program’s history,” Lancers head coach Tony Floyd said.
He noted her seven 3-pointers against New Britain established a new program record for 3-pointers made in a game - for either girls or boys - and her 41 3-pointers was also the most by any girl in a single season.
An “all-around talent,” as Floyd said, she averaged 15.2 points per game and scored 321 points in 22 games played, leading the squad in total assists with 88 (4.0 average), 2.1 steals per game and five rebounds a game.
Maghini scored in double figures in 18 of 22 games, while her 29 points against New Britain was the team’s top total of the season. She made her first 26 free throws of the season, going 43-of-49 (87.8 percent) for the year. She’s also a two-time all-conference pick.
In a sensational debut season, Gonzalez averaged 13.7 points and two steals per game for St. Paul, earning selection to the All-NVL Team.
“[She] was our best offensive player and had one of the most successful seasons as a freshman in the program’s history,” Falcons coach Joe Mone said. “I think we’ll be looking at one of the better players to be coming out of St. Paul in the future.”
Johndrow averaged 10 points, five rebounds, 5.5 assists and 2.8 steals per game for St. Paul, earning NVL All-Copper Division honors.
“[She was] probably our most versatile player and our floor leader,” Mone said. “A player that makes everybody around her better, and [she] had a tremendous senior year.”
Udoh averaged six points and five rebounds per game as yet another freshman standout for the Falcons.
“[She] really came on in the second half of the year and the tournament,” Mone said. “She looks like she’ll be a very strong post player in the future. If she keeps working and keeps getting better, she could also be one of the better players to come out of our program.”
All four area teams are represented on our All-Press second-team, with the Falcons and Lancers gaining one additional selection each, while Terryville had two players so honored and Bristol Central had one.
Senior guard Jillian LeBeau rounds out Bristol Eastern’s All-Press selections. Her 164 rebounds (6.8 per game) were second-best on the team, as were her 58 offensive rebounds (2.4 per game).
“An excellent defensive force,” Floyd said, she also had 38 steals and 27 blocks.
She just missed three potential double-doubles this past season by a single point or rebound.
LeBeau scored a season-best 10 points twice this past season, averaging 5.8 points per game. She had 13 rebounds against Wethersfield, five steals against Bristol Central, five assists against Platt and three blocked shots against both Plainville and Lyman Hall.
Wrapping up St. Paul’s four All-Press selections is senior forward Amelia Sanchez, who averaged 6.5 points, five rebounds and 1.5 steals per game, earning NVL All-Copper Division honors.
“[She] was the unheralded player on our team,” Mone said. “Does all the little things [and] was very key to our success this season on the defensive end.”
He added, “She does all the little things that don’t always get noticed.”
The loss of her twin sister Brianna to injury early in the season was a huge blow to the Rams, but senior guard Meghan Hamel stepped up to earn her second straight All-Press team selection.
“Meghan was our do-everything guard this year,” Bristol Central coach Steve Gaudet said, noting she led the team in assists and steals, averaging about four points, just over three assists and 2.1 steals per game.
“She was the veteran point guard we’ve had for a couple of years now, so she really did a lot for us,” Gaudet said. “She really helped us stay afloat. She was a great leader ... she really helped our younger kids a lot.”
Finishing off this year’s All-Press girls basketball selections are our two choices from Terryville High: senior forward Zoe Jabs and junior shooting guard McKenzie Huria.
Jabs was an All-Berkshire League second-team selection who, while missing a couple of games with a concussion, still led the team in rebounds (128), was second in scoring (7.7 ppg), was a 69 percent free throw shooter and was also the best rebounder on the team.
“She’s known for her hustle, her determination and her outstanding defensive play. She’s our best defensive player,” Terryville coach Tom Morgan said.
Huria played in all 20 games for the Kangaroos, leading the team with 155 points (7.8 ppg) and free throw percentage (73%), while netting 21 3-pointers, second most on the team.
“She’s a very good team player, and we expect her to be a team leader next year,” Morgan said.