A year removed from an SWC- and Class M state playoff berth, ND-Fairfield's girls basketball team is hoping for more of the same in 2012-13.

The Lancers were 13-10 a year ago, but return three starters from the squad that reached the SWC tournament. The Lancers have improved every season since 2010, and head coach Eric DeMarco hopes that trend continues.

"Our goal is to improve from last year's record," DeMarco said via email, "and to qualify for both the state and SWC tournament."

DeMarco hopes a pair of all-Patriot Division guards, Amber James and Jovan Kingwood. Joining them are returning guards McKenzie Stone and Jerlisa Thomas.

Up front, at forward,

Alyssa Furgiuele and Briana Mann also return, and hope to give DeMarco's squad toughness.

DeMarco believes the senior-laden squad-- only Mann is a junior-- can continue to improve and help the Lancers be one of the SWC's top teams.

"The key is to put team success first, defend and play collectively night in and night out," DeMarco said. "We have

enough experienced players to be a tough team to play against."

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The Connecticut Post's Mike Cardillo contributed to this story.

ppickens@bcnnew.com; twitter.com/Pat_Pickens