Thursday, December 6, 2007

GIRLS STEP OUT IN FASHION

The girls basketball season is two days old and the quality of play gets better and better.

You have to feel sorry for new New Britain head coach Karen Byrne. She steps into the unfillable shoes of Beryl Piper, meets one of the better teams in the region in Windsor and has to do battle without the availability of one bona fide frontcourt player.

Cassie Bell, as remarkable a person as she is a multifaceted athlete, will be back soon. So will 2006 Class LL tournament star Tyler Kimball, although groin injuries can linger. When they return, New Britain will be as formidable as expected.

Watch out for Wethersfield and Berlin.

Both have their entire squads back from last year when they came of age in the season's waning days. Both have good size. Both have quality depth. Both will have to learn to deal with superior speed if they are to go deep in the tournament.

Coaches Russ Crist of Farmington and Lisa Mandeville of Plainville will have to replace great players. At least Mandeville has Desiree Pina, who gets my vote as the finest female athlete I've had the pleasure to watch in 15 years of high school coverage. Farmington's fortunes will rely on the development of sophomore Emily Kitching, the assertiveness of center Chelsey Marsh, and the emergence of support for that pair and Tessa Ramsay.

Rocky Hill's Pete Egan has a superior front court but will need his ballhandlers to handle the pressure that he'll no doubt face.

However things develop, local folks should go out to their schools of choice and support these fine young athletes.

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