Girls hoop preview: Wilton looks set for big season

It’s a very young team, with six sophomores and a freshman among the top nine players entering the season.

But there’s no shortage of talent, or experience, on the Wilton High girls basketball team, which opens the season next week.

The Warriors return seven players, including five of their top six scorers, from last year’s 15-8 team that reached the FCIAC semifinals and second round of the Class L state playoffs.

It’s a team ready to take things even farther.

“I think we’re a little ahead of the game, as far as being a young team. This year’s goal is to try to take them to another level,” said head coach Jaclyn Porco. “We have a young team. It’s going to be an exciting year.”

Wilton hosts Darien next Wednesday night at 7 in the season opener.

Gone are last year’s four seniors, Maddy Fulton, Haley Tafuro, Kelly Brosko and Brooke Morris.

Fulton, a second-team All-FCIAC forward who led the team in scoring (12.2 ppg) and rebounding (9.5 rpg), will be a huge loss, but Porco said the leadership of all four players will be sorely missed.

“They were a special group,” she said.

The leadership role this season falls on the two senior captains, guard Casey Pearsall and forward/guard Alyssa Malvarosa.

Pearsall was a second-team All-FCIAC pick last season, when she averaged 11.7 points per game and 8.4 rebounds per game, and led the team in assists (3.3 apg), steals (2.8 spg), blocked shots (39) and three-pointers (17).

Malvarosa, All-FCIAC honorable mention a year ago, averaged 8.5 points and 8.9 rebounds per game.

The Warriors will rely heavily on their super-talented class of sophomores. The group includes three girls — Erin Cunningham, Erica Meyer and Haley English — who were key players last year as freshmen, and have already proven themselves on the varsity level.

Cunningham, a 5’10” forward, was fourth in scoring last season at 5.2 ppg, and also averaged 3.6 rebounds per game. Meyer, a 6’3” center, averaged 4.9 points and 4.2 rebounds per game last season, while English, a 5’5” guard, averaged 4.2 points, 1.9 rebounds and one assist per game.

Also back is sophomore forward Cori Cannavino, who averaged 2.7 points and 3.3 rebounds a game last year.

Newcomers this year are sophomores Mckenna Pearsall and Sara Dickinson, both guards, and freshman guard Karen Brosko.

“The sophomores have really been stepping up,” said Porco, whose coaching staff has been working hard to push the players to a higher, collegiate level of basketball.

“We’re not only teaching them basketball, but the mental part of the game. We’re going to try to bring it up to a higher level. I think they can handle it. They have great leadership this year,” said Porco. “The girls are really supportive of each other. We’re gong to take their games to another level and have fun doing it.”

After making it to the FCIAC playoffs for the first time in eight years, and to the FCIAC semifinals for the first time in 16 years, the Warriors are setting their sites on the finals this season.

“It’s a realistic goal,” said Porco.

“They have the talent. They work very hard. They deserve it,” she said. “They’re competitive. They’re classy in their competitiveness. They don’t do anything else but play the game.”

The goal is not just to take things one game at a time, but one quarter at a time.

“We want to win every quarter of each game,” said Porco. “I want to be the most consistent team in the FCIAC. If we come out 80% every game, we should win. If we come out any less, we’re not going to.”