BEACON FALLS — After losing four starters, the program’s leading scorer, and 76 percent of the team’s total points from the best squad in school history, it’s safe to say that there will be some rebuilding with the Woodland girls basketball program this season.
But interim coach Jess Moffo and the Hawks know it, and that’s just fine with them.
“The biggest thing is that it’s all the kids working hard,” said Moffo, who is filling in this season for Gail Cheney, who had her first child in September. “They do a good job. They know they have to put in more work. They know it’s a rebuilding year. It’s a transition year. I couldn’t ask for a better group than we have now.”
The group includes just one returning starter—sophomore center Andrea Piccolo—and five other players who scored last season, in which the Hawks enjoyed their best season in school history with a 18-7 overall record and trips to the Naugatuck Valley League semifinals and the Class M quarterfinals.
Gone is the program’s leading scorer, two-time all-stater Heather Framski, who averaged 20.3 points per game and was a force in the paint. Also gone is Lindsay Feducia, who averaged 12.2 points a night in the backcourt. Kate Tuckey (5.4 ppg) and Kelsey Deegan (4.6 ppg) also left voids in the starting lineup.
Those four, along with Ashley Brieve, combined to score 75.9 percent of Woodland’s points last season. Now, the Hawks have to figure out where those points will come from this winter.
It will all likely come down to Piccolo, who started most of last season as a freshman.
“Andrea just has to be more of a presence,” Moffo said. “She has height, and you can’t teach height. She wants to improve so much. At the end of the year, she’s going to be 10 times better than she is now. We need her to rebound.”
Joining Piccolo in the frontcourt will be Shannon Meany (3.5 ppg) and Carli Mariotti (3.1 ppg). Those two, along with senior guard Alyssa Skibo, will serve as the team’s co-captains.
In the backcourt, juniors Nicole Fowler and Alma Rizvani figure to see plenty of court time.
“Nicole Fowler got a little playing time last year but she has big shoes to fill,” Moffo said. “She’s going to be at the two or three spot. Running the show at the point will be Alma Rizvani. She’s a natural athlete. Those are going to be the two biggest new kids on the court.”
Other new faces will appear in the frontcourt, including sophomore forward Ashley Michie and junior forward Liz Martin. Brianna Pacileo figures to see time at various positions off the bench.
It’s all being put together by Moffo, who has spent the last few years as a varsity assistant and the junior varsity coach. She said she feels prepared thanks to her relationship with Cheney.
“Transition-wise, we’re doing what we have to do,” Moffo said. “Coach Cheney gave me a lot of leeway over the last four years.”
While this season’s expectations might be a bit tempered due to the youth and inexperience on the court, Moffo still thinks Woodland can make some noise.
“I think we can compete,” Moffo said. “It’s a big rebuilding year. We’re young at some spots. The middle of the pack in the league will be very balanced. Holy Cross and Torrington will be on top, but the three to seven spots, we can be in that mix. We’re aiming for states and NVLs, like we always do.”