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Tuesday, April 24 High School Sports

Stamford, Wilton lead contenders in FCIAC girls basketball

A FCIAC girls basketball team has played in the last three Class LL state championship games with Wilton winning it in 2015 and two teams, Stamford and Greenwich, playing for the 2016 title with the Black Knights coming out on top. Last season saw Trumbull finish as the runner-up.

While many players from those championship teams are gone, Stamford and Wilton come into this season as favorites with Trumbull bringing back enough talent be considered dangerous.

If you think Stamford or Wilton will make an easy run to the FCIAC title, you have not been paying enough attention to the league.

Previous league champions Danbury and Ridgefield are both looking to get back on top and may have the players to do so.

Add those two to a lengthy list of teams with legitimate playoff aspirations, some traditionally good teams and maybe even a few upstarts.

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PLAYERS TO WATCH BY TEAM

DANBURY: Emily Grenier, Catrina Sullivan, Sabrina Almeida, Susanna Almeida, Ty’Lynn Ith, Tanisha Cunningham, Demia Moore

DARIEN: Chrissie Fiore, Katie Ramsey, Hailey King, Gwen Dolce, Hassanna Arbubakkr, Lindsey Dimonekas

GREENWICH: Kim Kockenmiester, Julia Conforti

McMAHON: Beverly Rosiclair, Jocelyn Lister, Stephanie Skidmore, Angelica De Los Santos, Kassandra Scott, Meagan Bombace, Tatiana Arias

NORWALK: Ajsa Vega, Dina Diblasio, Ashley Wilson, Sanaa Boyd, Naeva Renee, Belinda Hunter, Anaijah Morgan

RIDGEFIELD: Caroline Curnal, Megan Klosowski, Kate Wagner, Karley Smith, Bella Giordano, Sabrina Grizzaffi, Cameron McClellan

STAMFORD: Alexa Kellner, Brooke Kelly, Andrea O’Connor, Megan Landsiedel, Kelly Jagodzinski, Jessica Nelson, Claudia Moses

STAPLES: Arianna Gerig, Elle Fair, Nicole Dienst, Amanda Troelstra, Sophie Smith, Isa Didio

TRINITY CATHOLIC: Molly Murray, Caitlyn Scott, Kiera Fenske, Kyah Nowlin, Iyanna Lops, Emma Garner

TRUMBULL: Julie Keckler, Aisling Maguire, Brady Lynch, Jessica Lipinski, Meghan Lesko, Kelly O’Leary, Krystina Schueler

WARDE: Olivia Parisi, Libby McKenna, Cat Allison, Krisrina Krasniqi, Caroline Aufiero

WESTHILL: Grace Hansen, Samantha John-Folkes, Meaghan, Nia Holley, Grace Tufano, Tamar Bellette.

WILTON: Claire Gulbin, Emily Tuin, Caroline Sweeny, Elizabeth Breslin, Lauren Robertson, Alexa Hirn, Isabel Casiraghi

TEAMS TO WATCH

Stamford: The FCIAC and Class LL champions two season ago and FCIAC runners-up last year return this time around with a full arsenal. Four starters are back in seniors Alexa Kellner, Brooke Kelly and Andrea O’Connor along with sophomore Megan Landsiedel. This Black Knight team has the talent to be competing for a state title.

Wilton: Right alongside Stamford is Wilton. The Warriors bring back seven seniors, including starters Claire Gulbin, Emily Tuin, Caroline Sweeny, Elizabeth Breslin and Lauren Robertson along with what should be a very deep bench. This team could make a run back the Class LL championship game which it won in 2015.

Norwalk: The Bears finished fourth in the FCIAC last year and lost a few top players, but return enough talent that have many believing they will be right back in the mix. Guard Ajsa Vega could emerge as one of the league’s top players. If Norwalk is in the hunt late in the year the schedule will be tough, closing the season with games against Stamford, Trumbull and Ridgefield.

Trumbull: The defending FCIAC champions and Class LL runners-up took some graduation losses, but bring back seniors Julie Keckler, Aisling Maguire and Brady Lynch. The Eagles will once again be deep with experienced players trying to mesh with some newcomers.

Darien: The last team to watch is not one that often makes the list. A year after qualifying for the state tournament, Darien could be ready for the next step. The Blue Wave may not be contending for a state championship, but with talented seniors Chrissie Fiore and Katie Ramsey back, Darien will be tough to deal with all season and could contend for a FCIAC playoff spot.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Claire Gulbin, Wilton: As a junior, Gulbin averaged 14.5 points per game, posting double-digit totals in 20 of the teams 22 games. The senior guard is back with a group of seven seniors looking to return the Warriors to the top of the FCIAC. Gulbin can handle the ball, drive to the hoop or score from outside.

Alexa Kellner, Stamford: Last season, Kellner was named first team All-FCIAC, first team New Haven Register All-State and first team CHSCA All-State. The 6-foot-1 Kellner, who is committed to UMass, is one of the most versatile and athletic players in the state with the ability to go inside or stay outside and drain 3s. She averaged 15.2 points and 9.1 rebounds a game last season.

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Iyanna Lops, Trinity Catholic: After playing her freshman season at Westhill, Lops has transferred to Trinity. The 6-foot-1 guard is long and athletic, can handle the ball, shoot from the outside or go to the basket. Lops’ arrival at Trinity immediately improves the fortunes of the Crusaders.

Caroline Curnal, Ridgefield: Averaging 14 points, 12 rebounds and 4 steals as a junior, Curnal was named first team All-FCIAC, first team CHSCA All-State and second team New Haven Register All-State. A standout lacrosse and volleyball player as well, she was named the Hearst Connecticut Media Female Athlete of the Year.

Kim Kockenmeister, Greenwich: Greenwich is a young team this season, but do bring back an All-FCIAC first teamer in Kockenmeister. The small forward can handle the ball and is one of the league’s most dangerous 3-point threats.

GAMES TO WATCH

Dec. 15, Stamford at Wilton: Two teams that could meet again in the postseason kick things off with a matchup in the opening week. On paper, they look like the top two in the league and two of the best in the state.

Dec. 22, Ridgefield at Trumbull: These two programs have been around the top of the standings a lot in recent years and 2017-18 should be no different. Both have some questions to answer, but also talented returning players who should keep them relevant.

Feb. 2, Norwalk at Danbury: FCIAC playoff teams a season ago will be gunning for another shot at the top eight. As the calendar turns to February we should have a good idea whether these two are once again contenders.

Feb. 6, Staples at Darien: The Wreckers and Blue Wave may fly under the radar for a while this season, but by the time this matchup rolls around people could be talking about them. Not out of the question that this game carries significant playoff implications.

Feb. 12, Warde at Greenwich: Both of these teams took graduation losses but both have also developed programs which can sustain despite them. This game comes in the final week of the regular season and could be very meaningful for both.

Sericson

@stamfordadvocate.com; @EricsonSports

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