The local girls basketball teams made the most of their shortened seasons in 2021 and some of them posted successful campaigns into their conference tournaments.
Bristol Eastern and Bristol Central lead this year’s all-Bristol Press team with three players being named to the first and second teams. The first team features Bristol Eastern’s Ciara Collins, Cali Doyon and Sage Scarritt along with Bristol Central’s Sophia Torreso and St. Paul’s Nadia Riemer. The second team is made up of Janessa Bartell and Gwen Torreso of Bristol Central, Alyssa Kehler of Bristol Eastern, Sophia Gerst of St. Paul and Zoe Zappone of Terryville.
Eastern capped off another strong campaign under coach Tony Floyd with a 10-2 regular season record and an appearance in the top bracket of the CCC postseason and Collins was the catalyst for all of this. The junior guard eclipsed the 1,000-point mark near the end of this season and now has a whole season to climb the school’s all-time scoring list.
Collins averaged 23.2 points, 8.6 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 2.1 steals while shooting 49.2 percent from the field, 38 percent from behind the three-point line and 87 percent from the free-throw line. She received all-CCC honors for the third time in three years this season.
Joining Collins in the Lancers’ backcourt was senior Cali Doyon who provided a steady presence from the outside, always looking to distribute and create plays. She was her team’s leader in assists per game (4.4) and steals (three) as her impacts were felt without scoring.
“Her defense helped to jumpstart Eastern’s transition game the team loved to employ,” Floyd said.
Eastern’s inside presence was led by senior sage Scarritt who anchored the Lancers in the paint with strong scoring, rebounding and defense. Her 7.5 points and eight rebounds per game were both second on the team and she shot 46 percent from the field and 79 percent from the free throw line.
“Her leadership was critical to the success of the Eastern program in 2021,” said Floyd.
Riemer joined St. Paul this year and instantly became the team’s leading scorer and the focal point of its offense. Fitting in almost immediately, the sophomore was one of the Falcons’ keys to success and the team always played well when she played well.
“Nadia had a great first season at St Paul,” St. Paul coach Joe Mone said. “Her length and athleticism made her a handful for other teams to defend. It was evident that when she played well we were a team that was hard to beat. The upside for her is tremendous and I can't wait to see what the next two years will produce.”
The most consistent scorer on her team, Sophia Torreso led the Rams’ offense for the second year in a row despite being just a sophomore. Central’s offense runs through her and her willingness to create a shot from anywhere on the court makes her a crucial part of her team going forward.
Starting off the second team, Kehler made an impact anywhere on the floor she could for Eastern. Her averages of 6.4 points and 4.8 rebounds were career-bests for her as she was a valuable part of the Lancers’ starting lineup.
“Alyssa was one of the most improved players on the squad, starting all 14 games for the program,” Floyd said. “Her early season scoring exploits helped Eastern win games against Farmington and Plainville to get the Lancers off on a fast start.”
Gerst was St. Paul’s only returning player from last season who played any consistent varsity minutes entering the 2021 season, making her role as a leader on this year’s team vital to helping her teammates adjust to this level of play. A hard-nosed player on both ends of the floor, she always found ways to contribute in every game.
“Sophia was the heart and soul of our team,” Mone said. “The leadership and maturity she showed during this difficult pandemic year was so important. Her play and guidance was huge in helping us get a division championship. It seemed like no matter what we needed either offensively or defensively she provided it.”
Zappone brought her best effort every time she stepped on the court for the Kangaroos. Always looking to make a play on the ball offensively or defensively, her skillset drove the game plan for Terryville this season.
“Zoe Zappone was a important part of our team both on offense and defense,” Terryville coach Bree Redman said. “They often looked to her as she ran the offense or played our opponents best player on defense. While Zoe contributed in all aspects of the game, from steals to rebounds she also hustled all game and inspired others with her never give up attitude. It is truly a pleasure to have the opportunity to coach her.”
A pair of seniors from Central close out the list as Bartell and Gwen Torreso offered experience and leadership to a young Rams team. A talented mid-range scorer, Bartell was always a strong option on offense with her arsenal of scoring moves. Torreso finished her high school basketball career greatly improved as both a passer and defender, avoiding mistakes to help her team get the most out of every possession.