Miranda Arruda

Stonington's Miranda Arruda was an All-ECC Division II selection last season. File photo.

Head coach: Paulla Solar (18th season). Assistant coaches: Samantha Ryan, Ed Kolnaski (volunteer).

Last year: Stonington finished 16-8, including two wins in the Class M state tournament.

Returning to varsity:

Seniors: Miranda Arruda (G, captain), Aliza Bell (F), Kate Johnson (G, captain), Izzy Yarnall (C, captain). Junior: Zoe Ribeiro (G). Sophomores: Sophia Bell (C), Maggie Daley (G), Tori LoPresto (G).

New to varsity:

Senior: Kaylee York (F). Freshmen: Olivia Fustini (F), Sandy McGugan (G).

Outlook: Stonington returns four starters, but the Bears may be hard pressed to match last year’s 16 wins due to a brutal schedule.

The Bears ended up in ECC Division II with Waterford, Bacon, Fitch and Ledyard. Class LL NFA is on the schedule twice, and the Bears face Class LL New London once.

Still, the Bears will look to press and run.

“We are trying to play an aggressive type of defense. I think we can defend well,” Solar said. “On offense, the kids need to calm down and shoot more. They have to have confidence in their shot. It is what it is; that is why we have rebounding.”

Arruda was a Division II honorable-mention selection last season. She is a tenacious defender and excellent rebounder (7.7 per game last season) as a guard. She can also score in transition.

Johnson will run the team at the point. Johnson has the ability to drive to the basket.

Bell, who averaged 8.5 points and 12.8 rebounds, is a strong inside presence.

Yarnall also plays inside, but has developed an improved shooting touch. Ribeiro, who is also improved, will step into the fifth starting spot.

Solar has confidence in her bench, which will allow the team to stay aggressive on the defensive end. Fustini is a freshman with good hands and potential as a rebounder, Solar said.

Coach’s take: “We would like to be competitive inside and outside the league. We want to compete with the tougher teams and keep our standards high.”

Keith Kimberlin

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