After losing eight seniors, last season was supposed to be a rebuilding one for Fairfield Warde girls basketball coach Dave Danko. Instead, Danko simply reloaded as the Mustangs went 21-4, won the FCIAC Central and reached the Class LL semifinals.

And with solid group of experienced returning players, Warde should be just as strong this season.

“We return a veteran group, losing only one senior from last season,” Danko wrote in his prospectus to the Citizen. “Expectations are high for another strong run in both the FCIAC and state tournaments.”

Junior guard Daja Polk, junior lliana Krasniqi, junior Shania Osborne, senior Sarah Cotto, senior Lejla Markovic, junior Jenna Cetta and sophomore Olivia Parisi will be Danko’s key pieces, along with senior Maria Miller, junior Kim Rodriguez and sophomore Libby McKenna, who will all see playing time, according to Danko.

“We are going to be strong inside with Osborne and Krasniqi,” Danko said. “We have experience and depth but we’re going to need to stay healthy and develop a strong team chemistry. Our motto is: ‘One goal, one team, one destination.”

The Mustangs were ranked No. 4 in the state by the coaches and media to start the season

FAIRFIELD LUDLOWE

The Falcons are coming off a 13-11 season, a year where they reached the FCIAC tournament quarterfinals and the Class LL quarterfinals.

Julia Pangallo, Alex McKinnon and Regan Steed are the top returning players for head coach Sarah Huntington, along with Peyton Brown.

“Great team defense will be the key to our success,” Huntington wrote in her prospectus to the Citizen. “Team strength, along with dedication and loyalty, with a sense of ‘team,’ these girls would do anything for each other.”

One things that Huntington feels still needs work is the squad’s on-court sense.

“We need to work on our basketball IQ and reading the floor,” the coach said. “but that will come with lots of good practice.”

ND-FAIRFIELD

After posting a 9-11 record, the Lancers went into last season looking to turn that record around “if they could come together as a team,” said head coach Eric DeMarco.

Boy, did they.

Notre Dame-Fairfield finished with a 20-6 record, reaching the SWC finals and the semifinals of the Class S tournament. And with 11 returning players, the Lancers are looking to reach those same lofty heights they did last season.

“This is one of the deepest teams in my career,” DeMarco wrote in his prospectus to the Citizen. “It’s amazing how successful a group can be when no one cares who gets the credit.”

Seniors Raina Ceryak, Taylor Ceballos and Bryanna D’Arcangelo head the returning cast, followed by juniors Dayniera Artis, Whitney Fulton, Precious Montgomery and sophomores Gabby Joseph and Zuquilla Mbachiantim, all who saw significant minutes last season. But that’s not all.

“Brooke McCone (senior), Brittany Fulton (junior), Aliyah Louis (sophomore) and Jenna Dorosh are all pushing our returning varsity players for playing time,” DeMarco said. “Practices are very competitive and this should help everyone improve. We are looking for a successful season and expect to qualify for the SWC and state tournaments.”