Now that mid-December is here, it's time for girls' basketball. Over the course of the last six years there have been a half-dozen different schools to win the conference title. As a matter of fact, the last repeat champion is no longer a part of the SWC: Lauralton Hall of Milford, which captured three straight trophies from 2012-14. The defending champion is Newtown; runner-up was Bethel.
So what’s in store for 2019-20?
SWC Sports Zone reached out to the Panther coaches, Pomperaug’s Joseph Fortier and Masuk’s Michael Collins, for some perspective on the conference this winter.
Joseph Fortier’s View:
Teams To Beat: Notre Dame, Kolbe Cathedral, and both of last year’s finalists.
“The SWC is loaded with a lot of talented team with Notre Dame, Newtown, Bethel and Kolbe leading the pack, Fortier said.
“We return an experienced team looking to compete in the SWC and Class L State Tournaments,” Fortier added.
Players To Watch: Yamani McCollough and Aizhanique Mayo of Notre Dame; Cyleigh Wilson and Amy Sapenter of Newtown; Maranda Nyborg of Bethel; Cara McGettigan and Molly Flanagan of Pomperaug.
Top returnees for the Pomperaug Panthers (who were 17-7 overall a year ago):
Cara McGettigan (11.5 points per game, All Colonial, Vinny Smeraglino All Star Game Selection), Molly Flanagan (7.1 ppg, 11.1 rebounds, All Colonial), Jada Stietzel (7.5 rebounds, SWC Honorable Mention), Maddie Villa (6 ppg, 3 assists, 4 steals, SWC Honorable Mention), Alex Rafferty (All Academic Team), Marina Lambiase (4 assists per game, 3.5 steals, SWC Honorable Mention), Jessica Evans (All Academic Team), Maddox Legg (All Academic Team), Sydney Lounsbury (All Academic Team).
Michael Collins’ View:
Teams To Beat/ Players To Watch: “I think ND Fairfield is the team to beat. They have three returning all league players in Erin Harris, Aizhanique Mayo, and Yamani McCollough. They also have Ciara Brown who is excellent/all-league caliber,” Collins said.
In addition to the aforementioned ND standouts … “Bethel has Miranda Nyborg, who might be the best post player in the state, along with solid overall talent,” Collins said.
“Newtown has an entire roster loaded with talent, and [Coach Jeremy O’Connell] gets them to play hard for 32 minutes every night. Kolbe returns Brianna Meekins, who was all-league, and they always play fast and hard,” Collins added.
“Pomperaug should also be very good as always. Cara McGettigan just committed to play for Eastern Connecticut. New Fairfield returns everyone and they might be the hardest working team in the league. Joel Barlow lost two really good players, but Joe Carollo always has his team prepared. Weston has a great player in Kate Joyce. Stratford has a great player in Abby Anka.
“The league is full of excellent coaches and quality team. I know the new hires at Stratford and Immaculate. They are very good coaches who will do well at their respective schools,” Collins said of Stratford leader Kelsey Gilmore and Immaculate’s Thomas Sparks.
“Basically, I need to have my young talent ready to play in each and every game,” Collins said.
“We have an extremely young team. Senior captain Emily Lange has been doing a great job leading a young, but talented group of underclassmen. The players have all been coming to practice with a willingness to be coached and are improving by the day. There will be growing pains, but I'm excited to see where this teams ends up as I couldn't be happier with them at this point in the preseason,” the Masuk coach added.