Girls basketball: Warriors plan to use athleticism, depth

When the 2015-16 season gets underway on Friday, no one on the Wilton High girls basketball team should expect a lot of time on the bench.

Head coach Rob Coloney has no plans to have anybody sit for long.

“I plan to utilize all 11. We’re going to be a team by committee. The hot hand will play,” he said. “Everybody’s going to have the opportunity to play. Every night will be a chance to be that next player.”

The Warriors, who begin the season on Friday night (7) at New Milford, will be led this season by its three senior captains— Karen Brosko, Taylor Ingerman and Caraline Higgins.

Brosko and Ingerman are two of the starters to open the season, while Higgins is still sidelined by a concussion suffered at the end of the soccer season.

Joining Brosko and Ingerman in the starting lineup are seniors Christina Holmgren, Hana Previte and Sarah Fitzgerald.

The team’s only returning starter is Brosko, a shooting guard who averaged 7.7 points per game last season. She is the leading three-point shooter left from last year’s team, hitting 13 treys a year ago.

Holmgren, a forward, is the team’s other key returner who saw significant playing time last year, when she averaged 5.2 points per game.

Of the other returners, Higgins and junior forward Caylin Cannavino saw the most floor time last season, both appearing in 21 of the team’s 27 games.

Fitzgerald, who saw action in 17 games, takes over the point-guard duties, while Previte and Ingerman will start the season on the forward line.

Cannavino, who averaged three points per game last season, will also be on the forward line, along with sophomore Caroline Sweeny.

The guard rotation will also feature junior Meaghan Downey and sophomores Emily Tuin, who saw action in 15 games, and Claire Gulbin.

While the Warriors are short on varsity experience, they do have the talent, and the athleticism, to be a strong team, said Coloney.

“There’s a tremendous amount of talent on the team. We’re going to play very aggressive defense,” he said. “The girls have a lot of positives. They’re quick, and they’re athletic.”

Coloney, the team’s assistant coach the past two seasons, replaces Jaclyn Woitkowski Porco, who stepped down in September after seven seasons as head coach.

Since he’s coached almost all of the players on the JV level, or the youth level, Coloney expects a smooth transition.

“They know our style. They know what to expect,” he said. “There’s great cohesiveness. They understand what my style is and what my expectations are.”

The Warriors face a challenge under the basket, as their tallest player is Holmgren at about 5’10”. The FCIAC this season is stocked with strong teams with tall inside players, Coloney said.

“We have our work cut out for us. It’s going to be a challenge,” he said. “The old adage that you can’t teach height, it’s true. We have to get creative.”

Coloney said that as long as the team has a game plan for every opponent and goes out and executes, things should fall into place.

“The FCIAC looks to be as strong as it’s ever been. There’s a lot of talent in the conference,” he said. “If we believe we can compete with anybody, we can.”

Graduating five players who helped the Warriors win their first-ever state title last season leaves a big void, of course, but Coloney hopes this year’s team can create its own identity as the season progresses.

“I know there’s some big shoes to fill. I think the girls we have this year are ready to put their best effort forward. They’re ready to prove they weren’t just the girls last year who stood in the shadows,” he said. “We may go through some growing pains.”

Coloney said success can mean many things, and the Warriors would define it for themselves this season.

“We want to win every game, but we’re not going to put a number on wins or losses,” he said. “Success is measured in many other quantifiable ways than just wins.”

Notes: The losses to graduation from last year’s 25-2, Class LL champion team include all-state forward Erin Cunningham, the all-time scoring leader in Wilton basketball history (16.4 points per game last season), 6’ 3” center Erica Meyer (14 ppg) and starting guards Haley English (7.3 ppg) and Makenna Pearsall (5 ppg), along with Hannah Maatallah (2.7 ppg).