Head coach: Sue Haik (4th season). Assistant coaches: Erinn Beal, Mike Murdock.
Last year: Westerly finished 19-6 and 16-2 in Division II. The Bulldogs lost in the D-II semifinals in overtime.
Returning to varsity:Seniors: Victoria Carreiro (G), Natalie Ritacco (F). Juniors: Isis Hamelin (G), Megan Albamonti (F), Lauren Dobson (G), Emily Haik (F), Jenna Murray (G), Mia Capparelli (F), Carly Bowen (F), Jaime Murray (G).
New to varsity:Senior: Maya Perez (G). Sophomores: Anna Cozzolino (F), Kylee Marley (F).
Outlook: Westerly returns lots of talent from last year’s squad. Albamonti averaged 11.7 points and 11.1 rebounds to earn honorable-mention All-State recognition. She is effective around the rim.
But the Bulldogs have others who can score in Carreiro, Dobson and Hamelin.
“I think our team is versatile this year,” coach Haik said. “I don’t think you can take away one person and prevent us from being successful.”
Westerly will have to replace Arianna Fort (8.8 points, 6.8 rebounds), who moved.
Carreiro returns as a starter as does Hamelin. Ritacco and Dobson also saw plenty of minutes. The Murrays, Bowen and Capparelli will also contribute.
Westerly will use its speed and quickness to apply defensive pressure and cause turnovers. The Bulldogs want to push the tempo most nights.
Westerly hopes to improve its shooting. At times last season, the Bulldogs missed a number of makeable shots.
“We need to finish at the rim and be more efficient to take pressure off our defense,” Haik said. “The girls are shooting much better; they put in the time in the summer and offseason. Their attitude has been great and they are working very hard.”
Coach’s take: “We have the capability, if we stay mentally tough, to make a long run in the tournament. But the basketball season is a long one. For now, we are taking each game one at a time. Our mental focus has to be there each and every night.”