The Fairfield Warde girls basketball team should be primed and ready in 2011-12.

The Mustangs return three starters from a team that won a Class L state playoff game a year ago.

"We're seasoned this year," Warde head coach Dave Danko said. "There is a wealth of good athletes who know and love the game of basketball."

And despite an 0-2 start to their season, Danko knows his five seniors-- all of whom are captains-- will have a hand on whether the year is successful or not.

"I tell them every day in practice that this is their year and ask them how they want to be remembered," Danko said. "They control their own destiny."

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Amongst those seniors is four-year varsity players Brielle Lanese and Kate Kerrigan. Lanese is in her second year as a team captain. Both were starters a year ago, and Danko expects Lanese to be his best low-post threat, despite her recent return from an elbow injury.

Jerelyn Luther is a tough rebounder and defender. Seniors Jamera Fountain and Carly Mappa are guards who are lethal from the outside when they're on.

After his five seniors, Danko only has sophomores on his varsity roster. Kaitlin McKenna completes Luther and Lanese inside. Classmate Kenzie Burns was the Mustangs' leading-scorer after their first two games.

"We have a fabulous sophomore class," Danko said. "They're ready to contribute."

Danko is one of the FCIAC's closest followers, and he knows how narrow the gap is between the teams who will be good and those who will finish in the bottom third of the league.

"The league has about 15 good teams in it," he said.

Danko also knows reaching the FCIAC tournament for the first time since the Mustangs won the league in 2009 is attainable.

"We're using it as a carrot to the seniors," Danko said. "It's not going to be easy, though."

Warde also hopes to not only keep Danko's state playoff streak alive, but win more than one game in the Class L tournament, too.

"We've made the state playoffs 18 straight years," he said. "We want to get there and advance farther than we did last year."