ANSONIA – Even though they struggled with injuries throughout the 2014-15 season, the Ansonia Lady Tigers started to find a rhythm late in the season.
And now that they’re healthy, Ansonia girls basketball coach Jim Bolin expects his team to be a contender in the Cross County Conference.
“They’re working hard, and they’re all pretty fired up about this season,” Bolin said about his team. “Their attitude’s in the right place.”
Ansonia lost just one player to graduation in Breanna Tuthill. But the Lady Tigers also lost their leader in scoring, rebounding and assists as Lydia Sink decided not to play this season.
Even with the losses, Bolin likes the group of girls on his team.
“We still have quite a bit back,” he said. “We have a pretty good foundation to work with.”
In the projected starting lineup Ansonia has junior guard Stefani Garrett and senior guard Monica Stover.
Seniors Abby Helmke and Brooke Neal are projected to start at wing, and both girls also can play guard. Neal is the team’s top returning scorer as she averaged 11.3 points per game last season.
Rounding out the starting lineup is sophomore wing Bailey Stammen, who also has the ability to go play inside the paint.
With so many guards and wings on the roster, the Tigers will play a spread offense and look to get a lot of ball movement.
“I think the kids share the ball, too, and they try to get each other involved in the game,” Bolin said.
Among those projected to come off the bench will be junior Jailyn Thwaits, who is the Tigers’ only true post player. Last year she was second on the team with 6.3 rebounds a game and third with 8.4 points per game.
Another key contributor coming off the bench will be sophomore Aliya Barga.
Having so many similar girls will help Ansonia as it rotates players onto the court, Bolin said.
“That way everybody can play about every position,” he said.
Bolin is encouraged about the amount of offensive talent on his team. With so many scoring options, opposing teams won’t be able to key on one player.
“I think I can have five scorers, and that’s a pretty good thing to have,” Bolin said.
But while the Tigers do have talent, one thing they lack is height.
“We’re not going to be very tall,” Bolin said. “We just have to make up with effort on that.”
Ansonia had a successful summer and has been working hard in preparation for the start of the season. The Tigers are eager to get things going and expect to have a winning season.
“Our goals are always to win the conference,” Bolin said. “That’s always a goal.”