STONINGTON — Zoe Ribeiro's role on the Stonington High girls basketball season changed significantly this season.
She was more than ready for the challenge.
As a junior, she was a starter on a team that included four experienced seniors. She was more of a complementary player, but still averaged 9.9 points per game.
This season, she was the lone returning starter in a lineup that included just one other player with significant varsity experience, junior Sophia Bell.
Ribeiro averaged 17.7 points and 7.3 rebounds to earn ECC Division-II first-team honors.
And she was a leader by example.
"Getting us over the hump of making the [state] tournament had a lot to do with Zoe pushing the other kids," longtime Bears coach Paulla Solar said. "But she didn't do it in an assertive way. She was low-key. But she knew when she had to be assertive. The kids love her because she is a really good person, kind, thoughtful and responsible."
Ribeiro had a good shooting touch, leading the team in 3-pointers with 25 and in free-throw percentage at 77%. She scored a career-high 32 points in a road win at Morgan in the Class M tournament.
"She was always a good shooter, but she did a ton of offseason work. Any offseason event that was going on, she was there," Solar said.
Solar added that Ribeiro also developed into a solid rebounder.
Bell received ECC Division II honorable mention recognition. The post player averaged 14.4 points and 13.6 rebounds per game.
Bell averaged 22 points and 16 rebounds a game during three Class M tournament games.
"I think she really started to develop as a scorer about halfway through the season. All of a sudden she was scoring 16 and getting 18 rebounds," Solar said. "We had to depend on her more this year.
"Now, we have a scorer and a rebounder. And she has another year to develop into an even more outstanding player."
Sophomore Anne Drago was the team's ECC sportsmanship recipient, and Tori LoPresto was the scholar-athlete.
Stonington faced a tough schedule that included Rhode Island Division I champion South Kingstown, ECC Division I champion NFA, ECC Division I runner-up Bacon Academy (twice) and New London (twice).
The Bears lost seven straight at one point, but finished 10-13 with a 2-1 record in the Class M tournament.