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Tuesday, May 21 Local

Field of FCIAC girls basketball contenders growing stronger

Girls basketball has been one of the most competitive sports in the FCIAC in recent years and the 2018-19 season should be no different.

Defending champion Trumbull lost some key players, but returns enough to be considered a favorite once again.

Teams like Norwalk, Trinity and Staples are ready to step up and contend while perennial contenders Ridgefield, Stamford and Warde cannot be counted out.

That is not even mentioning a Danbury team ready to get back in the mix, a Ludlowe squad that has been knocking on the door and is ready to enter and St. Joseph, which could certainly wind up in the final eight in the FCIAC playoffs.

The league brings back five players from the first and second team All-FCIAC squads, but three of those players were also named All-State last season.

To say the talent level in the FCIAC is high is an understatement with four players making the GametimeCT Top 25 players in the state to watch this winter.

PLAYERS TO WATCH BY TEAM

Danbury: Susana Almeida, Sabrina Almeida, Ty’Lynn Ith, Tanisha Cunningham, Tianna Rogers

Greenwich: Michelle Morganti, Taylor Stamos, Julia Conforti, Kristin Riggs, Kelly Martyanov

Ludlowe: Bridget Paulmann, Paige O’Connell, Anna Paulmann, Juliet Bucher, Emma Torello

McMahon: Aija Andrews, Michelle Perea, Meagan Bombace, Michelle Menard, Bryanna Perez

Norwalk: Ashley Wilson, Sanaa Boyd, Naeva Rene, Carsyn Langhorne, Anaijah Morgan

Ridgefield: Kate Garson, Katie Flynn, Faith Arnold, Megan Klosowski, Kate Wagner

St. Joseph: Emma Elrod, Katheryn Zito, Kaitlin Capobianco, Tessie Hynes, Maddie Johnson

Stamford: Megan Landsiedel, Jessica Nelson, Claudia Moses, Dina Merone, Emily Graham

Staples: Elle Fair, Marissa Shorrock, Abby Carter, Marley Lopez, Alva Nordin

Trinity Catholic: Iyanna Lops, Caitlyn Scott, Kaya Nowlin, Emma Garner, Sarah Jablonsky

Trumbull: Kelly O’Leary, Meghan Lesko, Krystina Schueler, Allie Palmieri, Cassie Barbato

Warde: Caroline Aufiero, Christina Krasniqi, Eva Fitzpatrick, Toni Lamparski, Alysha Henry

Westhill: Grace Hansen, Maddy Bautista, Peyton Hackett, Candese Osborne, Caroline Kollar

Bridgeport Central, Darien, New Canaan and Wilton did not respond to requests for information.

5 TEAMS TO WATCH

Trumbull: When you are back-to-back FCIAC champions you are a team to watch, even if you took big graduation losses. The Eagles are the team to beat in the league as they reload more often than they rebuild. Sophomores Cassie Barbato and Allison Palmieri are back after contributing as freshmen and will be joined by Meghan Lesko, Kelly O’Leary and a deep bench full of players looking to make their mark.

Norwalk: The Bears are ready for their moment in the spotlight. With an All-State guard in Ashley Wilson and a talented, deep team around her, Norwalk believes it can make a run at both the FCIAC and Class LL titles. Talent-wise, few teams matchup with Norwalk this season.

Staples: Elle Fair was All-State and All-FCIAC a season ago and may be the best pure athlete in the league. The Wreckers lost junior Arianna Gerig to an ACL injury, but still return sophomore center Marley Lopez and Abby Carter as they hope to make deep runs in the FCIAC and Class LL playoffs.

Ridgefield: The Tigers might be a year away with a roster loaded with talented juniors and sophomores. Then again, they might be ready to compete and win this season as many of those players saw significant minutes last season as Ridgefield only graduated one senior starter.

Trinity Catholic: It has been a while since Trinity routinely played for league championships, but this may be the group to lead them back to the promised land. Iyanna Lops, Caitlyn Scott and Kaya Nowlin will pace the Crusaders who crawled back into relevancy last season and are looking to make the next leap this time around.

5 PLAYERS TO WATCH

Susana Almeida, Danbury: The senior point guard is hoping to lead a resurgent Hatters team back to the FCIAC playoffs. Almeida can handle the ball, get to the hoop and score from outside.

Elle Fair, Staples: Senior was an All-State and All-FCIAC first-team pick last season. Quick guard can beat defenders off the dribble or pop from the outside. Averaged 14 points per game last season.

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Megan Landsiedel, Stamford: Junior guard averaged 7.5 points, 4.8 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 1.6 steals last season.

Iyanna Lops, Trinity Catholic: Senior guard averaged 17 points 15 rebounds and 5 blocks average last season. Signed to play D-1 at Cal-Bakersfield

Ashley Wilson, Norwalk: 5-foot-6 senior guard was an All-State and All-FCIAC first team selection last season. Can handle the ball and score from anywhere on the court.

5 GAMES TO WATCH

Trinity Catholic at Stamford, Dec. 14: Stamford has run girls hoops in the city the last few seasons but Trinity is primed to take back its place on top of the heap.

Ludlowe at Danbury, Dec. 19: Two teams with FCIAC playoff hopes meet up before the new year as an early measuring stick for both.

Staples at Ridgefield, Feb. 5: Both teams are deep with talent and aspire to be playing meaningful games come the end of February.

Greenwich at Warde, Feb. 11: Both teams are perennially in contention for FCIAC playoff spots and this late-season matchup could very well be for a place among the final eight.

Trumbull at Norwalk, Feb. 11: The two favorites entering the season do not meet until the second-to-last game of the season when both should be firing on all cylinders.

sericson@stamfordadvocate.com; @EricsonSports

Scott Ericson|Sports Writer/Podcast Host

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