BRISTOL - Area girls basketball teams are ready to begin their seasons starting today, and a new year brings different expectations for each team.
Both St. Paul and Bristol Eastern are looking to build off strong seasons last year. The Falcons and Lancers finished with respectable records, with St. Paul the best team in the area with just four losses.
For Bristol Central and Terryville, this year is about improving upon last season.
The Rams only won one game last season and will be looking to get some playing time out of a couple of key freshmen.
Meanwhile, the Kangaroos had four wins, but lost some seniors, including a key player that they will look to replace this year with production from a Kennedy transfer.
Below is a closer look at all the local teams and the expectations for each this season:
Head coach: Joe Mone (23rd year)
Last year: 22-4
Key losses: Brigid Johndrow, Alexa Morneault, Amelia Sanchez, Chantelle Lopez, Alexandria Mourges.
Key returnees: Molly Hooks (sr.), Janessa Gonzalez (so.), Jade Udoh (so.).
Outlook: The Falcons enter this season coming off of a successful 22-4 campaign and are once again expecting to compete for their division and league title.
While the expectations are there, St. Paul has some battles for starting roster spots and have yet to name the starting five.
“Not sure who our starters will be at this time,” Mone said. “But contributing players for this year are Molly Hooks, Jade Udoh, Janessa Gonzalez, Lindsey O’Bright, Aidrianna Lopez, Brie Giantonio, Emma Cretella, Olivia Stump and Morgan Kolb.”
Head coach: Anthony Floyd
Last year: 16-7
Key losses: Diana Wnuk (F), Jillian LeBeau (F), Miya Laprise (G).
Key returnees: Hannah Maghini (sr., G), Miranda Janick (sr., G), Cassie Doyon (sr., G), Cheyenne Sargent (sr., F), Meredith Forman (jr., F), Paige McLaughlin (jr., G), Maura McGuire (jr., F), Jordan Ouellette (so., G).
Newcomers to watch: Avery Arbuckle (so., F), Sage Scarritt (fr., F).
Outlook: The Lancers are looking to make opposing defenses work this season based on their offensive firepower.
“[We’re] looking forward to playing up-tempo this season using our speed and quickness on defense and in transition offense,” Floyd said.
Playing deep is also something Floyd is expecting out of his team this year.
“Also, developing our bench to help us to be successful in the league this year.”
Head coach: Tom Morgan (8th year)
Last year: 4-16
Key losses: Zoey Jabs (second team All-Berkshire League)
Key returnees: McKenzie Huria (sr. capt., G), Alanna Girch (sr., F), Sam Stone (sr., F), Lauren Jacobs (jr., C), Amy Roqi (so., G).
Newcomers to watch: Jackie Johnson (transfer from Kennedy in Waterbury, so., G).
Outlook: The schedule doesn’t start easy, as the Kangaroos play Northwestern and Lewis Mills in their second and third games of the season. The two are expected to be the two top teams in the league, according to Morgan.
The only key player lost was Jabs. Helping to make up for the loss, Huria is expected to be a big part of the Terryville group and whether or not it has a successful season.
With the new group of players, including a transfer player in Johnson expected to see meaningful playing time, the Kangaroos may take a little while to get going.
“I expect us to be a better team in the second half,” Morgan said. “With the new group and a different group, it’ll take us some time.”
At the center position, Jacobs at 6-foot-1 is expected to be a force in the paint for Terryville.
Head coach: Steve Gaudet (14th season)
Last year: 1-19
Key losses: Meghan Hamel (G), Bri Hammel (G), Sarah Stilkauskas (G).
Key returnees: Xia’an Carrasco (sr., F), Zoe Sinclair (sr., F), Sarah Guerin (sr., G), Ashley Watson (jr., F), Allison Jessie (jr., G), Ideara Gordon (sr., G), Ashley MacDonald (sr., G).
Newcomers to watch: Janessa Bartell (fr., F), Gwen Torreso (fr., G), Leandra Roldan (so., G).
Outlook: The Rams have some returning players that they will be expecting to take a next step with the offseason work put in.
“We have some key returning players that gained some important varsity experience last year in Guerin, Carrasco, Sinclair and Watson,” Bristol Central head coach Steve Gaudet said. “Watson has started all but one game in her first two years at BC. She was the leading scorer last year. We will rely heavily on these four to help push our younger, inexperienced players.”
While the Rams do return some experienced players, that next step forward may be a result of some production out of a pair of freshmen.
“I feel we will get better as the season goes along as we gain experience and confidence,” Gaudet said. “Freshmen Torreso and Bartell are two young athletic kids who have looked good in the preseason. We have shown the ability to defend in the preseason, but we have struggled at times to score.” If our guards can develop and we can improve our offensive production, we will compete to make the tournament.”
Dan Orencole can be reached at 860-973-1811, or firstname.lastname@example.org