Girls basketball: Warriors young but motivated for FCIAC title run

There are a few things this year’s Wilton High girls basketball team may be short on, but determination won’t be one of them.

And that just might carry the Warriors a long way in the 2016-17 season.

“We don’t have a lot of size and we don’t have a ton of returning varsity experience, but we are very, very motivated,” said head coach Rob Coloney, in his second year as head coach and fourth with the program. “The girls seem to have more motivation and greater drive this year. It’s kind of an attitude, an overall feeling you get … that I haven’t seen before.”

Wilton opens the season Tuesday night at home (7) against New Milford.

The Warriors, two years removed from a state championship, are coming off a 12-11 season (10-6 FCIAC). The team did achieve its goals of making the FCIAC and state playoffs, but was knocked out in the FCIAC quarterfinals and the second round of the Class LL tournament.

With seven of last year’s top players gone, including all five starters, you’d figure the Warriors might downsize expectations. Not so, said Coloney.

“The captains this year, their goal is win FCIACs. That’s a challenge, but they’re taking it pretty seriously,” he said. “I think we’ll be positioned to be more successful this year than last year. Everyone’s working hard to try to obtain that goal.”


Wilton graduated its top player from a year ago, Karen Brosko, who led the team in scoring (11.2 ppg), rebounding (5.7 rpg), and steals (2.9 spg). The second-team all-FCIAC guard also was among the team’s top three-point shooters with 21 treys.

Also gone are most of the team’s other top scorers and rebounders in Sarah Fitzgerald (5.3 ppg, 3.6 rpg), Christina Holmgren (4.6 ppg, 2.7 rpg), Taylor Ingerman (2.8 ppg, 4.6 rpg), Hana Previte (1.8 ppg, 4.1 rpg) and Caylin Cannavino (2.9 ppg, 4.5 rpg).

Wilton’s four captains are also the four returning players who saw significant playing time last season.

Guard Meaghan Downey is the team’s only returning senior. She played in 22 of the team’s 23 games last season, averaging two points and 1.5 rebounds per game.

The other three captains are all juniors — Claire Gulbin, Caroline Sweeny and Emily Tuin.

Gulbin, a guard, played in all 23 games last season and was second on the team in scoring (5.9 ppg). She led the Warriors in three-pointers with 22, and also averaged 1.9 rebounds per game.

Sweeny, a guard/forward, played in 22 games and was fifth on the team in scoring (4.0 ppg) and third in three-pointers (12) , along with three rebounds per game.

Tuin, a guard, played in all 23 games and averaged two points and 1.5 rebounds per game.

Four other juniors who saw some varsity action last year are also back — guard Anna Cocoros (1.8 ppg), forward Elizabeth Breslin (0.7 ppg), guard/forward Isabel Casiraghi (1.8 rpg) and guard/forward Alexa Hirn (3.7 ppg).

The team adds four new players in senior forward Erica Smith, who returns to basketball after running track last winter; junior forward Laura Robertson; junior guard/forward Jessica Highland; and sophomore guard Kaitlin Reif.

Coloney said Wilton’s style of play will be “quick and hard,” with all 12 players expected to make contributions. For the new players, it is a matter of adjusting to the speed of the game at the varsity level.

“I expect to go very deep. Everybody will contribute,” he said. “They’ve really shown great poise and great leadership, all 12 of them.”

Things are already coming together defensively, he said, and defense will be a big part of the team’s success — namely, pressuring teams and forcing turnovers.

On offense, the Warriors are looking to improve upon last season’s average of 42.5 points per game.

“We want to be able to score 10 points higher than that,” said the coach. “We want to get the ball up in the air at least 60 times a game, if not more.”

Coloney plans to employ a new offense that relies less on set plays and more on the decision-making abilities of the players, who have to read the defense and exploit weaknesses.

“It makes us more difficult to defend because you can’t defend IQ,” he said, adding that multiple point guards are expected on the floor at any given time.

“We have a lot of girls who can do it,” he said.

Given the ambition the Warriors have shown so far, Coloney said, there’s no reason the Warriors can’t obtain their goals.

“Can we play total basketball for 32 minutes and rely on everyone? Can we payed selflessly? If we can do that we can be successful,” he said. “We have to make sure we practice hard every single day and build on every single day, and not take steps back. If we can improve every day and make sure mistakes don’t become habits, we can win the conference.”
— J.B. Cozens