ANSONIA – The Ansonia girls basketball team has some strong guards this season, coach Jim Bolin said, which will allow the Lady Tigers to be more aggressive this season.
Ansonia has seven players returning to its varsity roster from last season, senior Ashton Bradham, senior Stefani Garrett, senior Jailyn Thwaits, junior Bailey Stammen, junior Katie Werts, sophomore Trinity Henderson and sophomore Kassy Wentworth. Junior Millie Widener, sophomore Aleesha Gates and sophomore Heidi Runkel are moving up to join the varsity roster this year.
The Tigers did lose three seniors to graduation and other players to club volleyball so they don’t have as many players as they’d like to have although they’ve handled it well so far.
“We’ve been doing pretty well in our scrimmages,” Bolin said. “Numbers are down a little bit. That’s how it goes sometimes.”
Stammen is Ansonia’s top returning player, earning special mention all-Cross County Conference honors last year. She’s the team’s top returning scorer, having averaged 11.0 points per game as a sophomore. She also led the Tigers in rebounding last year with 7.8 a game.
Thwaits was second on the team in rebounding last year with 7.0 per game. Garrett led Ansonia with 3.2 assists a game last year.
It’s still up in the air who will start for Ansonia, but as of now the three returning starters – Garrett, Stammen and Thwaits – probably will be joined by Henderson and Werts in the starting lineup.
With Garrett, Henderson and Werts, Bolin thinks Ansonia has a strong trio of guards to depend on.
“I think it’s a blessing to have three guards in girls basketball,” he said. “They all handle the ball real well, and they shoot real well.”
The two starting post players – Stammen and Thwaits – both are only 5 feet 8 inches tall. Wentworth at 5 feet 9 inches is the Tigers’ only other player with that much height.
With not a lot of height, Ansonia will need to work on fundamentals.
“We’ll have to rely on our fundamentals and box out,” Bolin said. “We’re going to have to get better at boxing out. That’s a must.”
While Ansonia won’t be able to overpower teams on the inside, the Tigers should be able to attack from the outside and use its improved quickness.
“I think they all can shoot from the perimeter. They all can drive pretty well,” Bolin said. “We’ll try to get out and run the ball when we have the opportunities.”
Ansonia will be more aggressive on defense this year, Bolin said. Man to man seems to have worked best for the Tigers in scrimmages.
Ansonia had a winning season last year, and Bolin expects his team to be competitive again this year. If the Tigers work on improving their fundamentals they should be able to get some wins.
“Our expectation is to go out and compete every game,” Bolin said.