For most of the past decade, the Greenwich High School girls basketball team has qualified for both the CIAC Class LL and FCIAC tournaments and it’s determined to experience postseason basketball once again, this winter.
“We want to make FCIACs and make it far and make it to states,” Greenwich senior tri-captain Carolyn Frankle said. “We want to go further than the second round.”
The second round – Round of 16 – is where the Cardinals’ 2021-2022 season ended, as they lost to top-seeded Enfield on the road in the CIAC Class LL Tournament. Greenwich finished last season with a solid record of 13-9 qualified for the FCIAC Tournament, them made an appearance in the Class LL tourney for the eighth time in 10 seasons.
“Making it far into the FCIAC Tournament and hopefully, winning it, and making it far into states are some of our goals,” Greenwich senior tri-captain/guard Sophia Sergio said. “I feel like we have good chemistry this year.”
Graduation claimed six seniors from last season’s successful squad – Kayla Anderson, Ashley Torres-Brown, Gillian Frey, Cami Jablonski, Kelly Martyanov and Kristin Riggs, of whom were key contributors to the program. Riggs was a four-season starter and one of the team’s leading scorers for several seasons, while Anderson was also a four-year member of the varsity squad and among the Cardinals’ top rebounders. Riggs anchored the guard position, while Anderson was a forward.
With half of the team’s roster graduating, the Cardinals will, indeed, rely on Sergio, Frankle and junior returner Julia Monteiro for leadership on and off the court. The trio are serving as the Cardinals’ captains.
“Sophia, Carolyn and Julia, they represent our 1, 3 5 positions on the court,” Greenwich coach Megan Wax said. “They are great models and they know how to set the pace and push the tempo that we’re looking for this season. We’re confident in them and excited for them.”
Wax begins her first season as the Cardinals’ head coach. Yet, she’s quite familiar with the school’s girls basketball program. Wax has served as a varsity assistant coach, junior varsity coach and freshman coach during her 10 seasons at GHS.
“I’m super excited,” Wax said of her new role. “This is my 10th year with the program at all levels. I know the history of the program and where we’ve been and I know what we want for the future. I’m excited about having the opportunity to be able to write that future.”
Greenwich opened its 2022-2023 campaign on Monday by rolling to a resounding 51-8 win over visiting Wright Tech. The game provided the Cards the opportunity to showcase their new players, while their returning athletes began the season in impressive fashion. Monteiro, a power forward, scored 12 points, while freshman guard Madi Utzinger tallied 12 points in her first varsity game for the Cardinals (1-0). Sophomore Alyssa Gath added seven points, including a 3-pointer, while Frankle and junior forward Riana Xhekaj posted six points apiece in the winning effort.
“It’s a good gage for what we need to work on for our games coming up and playing teams from the FCIAC,” said Monteiro, a junior tri-captain. “We had a great game and I look forward to what we can bring against other teams.”
Against Wright Tech in its season-opening game, GHS led 18-2 after the first quarter and cruised the rest of the way. Greenwich displayed solid shooting and strong defense in its first game of the season.
“That’s a great season-opener,” said Frankle, who is expected to help spark the squad at the guard position. A standout ball handler, Frankle made a number of key baskets for the Cardinals last winter, including a final-second, game winning shot against Stamford.
Sergio is a backcourt player with postseason experience, who has been successful at making 3-pointers and providing consistent offensive production in season’s past. She’s eager to help guide the team as one of the captains.
“I’m super excited, I feel really honored to be named captain,” Sergio said. “Taking that leadership role is really exciting. Carolyn will be helping me at the guard position.”
Utzinger seems primed to make her presence felt in the backcourt in her first varsity season.
“Our new freshman Madi, she’s a really strong point guard and we’re really excited for her to help us out,” Sergio said.
Laura Smego, a senior, is also an experienced varsity athlete. She adds depth and shooting to the guard position. Gath is a guard, as is junior Megan Geiger, both of whom are beginning their first varsity seasons. Geiger scored four points in the season-opening triumph against Wright Tech.
“We’re really fast, that’s our strongest point by far,” Frankle noted. “Although we don’t have the height that same people say we need, we get the ball out and we just go. That makes our team really dynamic, because they are going to have to play at our pace.”
Said Wax: “We anticipate Sophia and Carolyn will do a lot of scoring. The goal is to be a team that shares the ball well. We want to have equal scoring from every position. We want everybody to be a threat.”
Sophomore Lara Young (three points in the season-opener), Xhekaj and senior Ife Akinnabi join Monteiro at the forward position.
“Lara Young and Riana are going to be useful at the high post in terms of getting that ball in and working it from there,” Monteiro said. “They’ll also be working down low in the block and finishing at the basket, along with Ife.”
“Having good team chemistry and good ball work is going to be vital to the team to have a good season,” Monteiro noted. “And finishing at the basket is going to be very important to having a great season.”
Greenwich visits Bethel on Friday for a 6 p.m. matchup, then travels to FCIAC foe Westhill on Dec. 23. The Cardinals’ next home game is Jan. 6 against conference opponent Brien McMahon.
“It’s been super fun to be a part of the program,” Sergio said. “We obviously, keep focus throughout the season, but we also have fun and we connect, so it’s a really good team to be a part of.”
Jayla Faison, a former standout guard for Greenwich, who played at the collegiate level, is the school’s junior varsity girls basketball coach.
“Our post work and boxing out and ability to rebound the ball in the paint, will be some of the keys for us,” Wax said. “We know we need to execute every single play. Every day and every game is a learning experience for our team.”
“Our goal is to focus on specific skills and master them each week,” Wax continued. “That’s the growth that I want to see.”
Categories: Greenwich High, Winter sports
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