Local basketball teams look to rebuild and contend

The  Enfield Raiders are looking to continue rebuilding this season, but will return a lot of experience after graduating only one senior from last year’s team.  First year head coach Jay Gaucher inherits an Enfield program that was 6-14 last year, coming up short of a CIAC tournament berth.

Gaucher’s squad will be anchored by four year starter Maggie Richards, a guard, and junior Hannah Lempitsky, a forward whom Gaucher said has improved her moves in the post.

The Raiders expect big offensive production from junior guard Olivia Caronna who averaged 9.5 ppg last year.  Though Enfield lacks experience in the tournament or winning big games, they are a tough team.  The Raiders are rich in varsity experience and can build off of last year’s season to make a bid for the state tournament this year.

Suffield

Returning starters pace an experienced Suffield team in 2013-14.  Merideth Ouellette returns from a breakout 2012-13 season where she led the team in scoring and was named an All-NCCC selection.

Seniors and defensive leaders Tashua Sotil and Katie Carson round out a very experienced backcourt for the Wildcats.   Ouellete, Sotil, and Carson are all captains this season.

Suffield also returns Arianna Flagg as a starting forward.  The Wildcats finished 8-12 last season, but were bounced from the state tournament in the first round by Haddam-Killingworth.

Suffield also qualified for the NCCC tournament last season with a 7-9 league record, but were eliminated by Canton.

First year coach Stacy Troiano says other players to watch for this season will be senior guard Taylor Gleason, juniors Katelyn Corr and Kat Rizzuto, and freshman guard McKenzie Rusczyk.

Somers

The Spartans lost seven key players from last year’s team that finished 16-7, tied for fourth in the NCCC, but still hope to be competitive this year.

Somers reached the second round of the state tournament last season, but six seniors graduated and Diandra DaRosa transferred.

However, Hailee Stetson, Kathryn LaVallee, Rebecca Novak, and Lauren Buettner are all seniors with varsity experience.

Expect Stetson, a four-year starter averaging 7.4 ppg, 6 rpg, and 2 steal per game and LaVallee, a three-year starter averaging 5.3 ppg, 4 rpg, and 2 steals per game to lead Somers.

Head coach Alan Walker, in his fourteenth season with the Spartans, says he needs his young players to provide athleticism, scoring, and defense for his Somers team to be successful.

Windsor Locks

A new season brings about a new division for the Windsor Locks Raiders.  Traditionally a Class S team, this will be the first year Locks plays in the Class M division.  Sixth year coach Doug Knowe remains optimistic despite losing nine seniors from last year’s 11-13 team, which lost to East Windsor in the second round of the state tournament.

“We have a good nucleus returning and a group that is excited to get started.”

Senior Amber Curran (6ppg, 10.3rpg) leads a very motivated and highly focused, though young, Windsor Locks team.  Junior forward Dominique Boyd (9.2ppg, 11rpg) is one of the area’s best juniors and a proven scorer.

She will contribute to a potentially strong rotation featuring sophomores Nicole Johnson, a promising scorer, Shayla Cruz, a lockdown defender and tremendous playmaker, and Ashley Nastalczyk.  Freshman Raelynn Voislow will help fill out the backcourt.

East Windsor

The Panthers lost three starters from last season’s 17-10 team that fell in the semifinals of the Class S Tournament to Thomaston.  Although depth and varsity experience is a concern, head coach Robert Lengyal is optimistic.

“Our girls have a terrific work ethic and strong desire to excel.”

Among the returning players is 2012-2013 All-NCCC senior point guard Melissa Wabble.  Fellow seniors Madison and Makinsey Carolus and Sierra Valerio will join Wabble on this year’s team.

Junior Danielle Sassi will play center for East Windsor.  Lengyal, in his sixth season with the Panthers, believes defense will be the key to East Windsor’s success this year.

His mantra for his girls this year will be, “Don’t talk about how good you want to be, show it with every action and thought on the court.”

The Panthers will have their work cut out for them competing in an NCCC that had 10 teams qualify for the state tournament a year ago.

Fermi

After five years at Stafford, Erin Clark will look to turn around Fermi from last year’s 2-18 record in her first year as the Falcons’ head coach.

Fermi only loses two seniors from last season, and only one starter, but Clark will still have a lot of work on her hands.  This is definitely a rebuilding season for Fermi, but they will return starters, Nicole St. Amand, Abby Shaughnessy, Sarah Tremblay, and Jill Lapponese, all of whom are aggressive and hard working.

“Our team is looking to be a high-energy and aggressive defensive team this season,” Clark said.

The Falcons will look to senior point guard St. Amand and sophomore, Tori Weatherwax for scoring.  Tremblay, Lapponese, and Shaughnessy will contribute defensively and as strong rebounders.  Despite a lack of size and scoring, look for the Falcons to use their speed and athleticism to improve upon last year’s mark.

 

 

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