STAMFORD — A meritocracy is growing in Danbury.
The Danbury girls basketball team improved to 7-2 overall and 5-1 in the FCIAC Thursday night thanks to a 60-35 road triumph over Westhill.
“Overall we are a very young squad. We mostly have sophomores. We still need to acquire more varsity experience,” Danbury coach Jackie DiNardo said. “Westhill played a very scrappy game. One of the things we are still learning is how to be ready to go on the road.”
The Hatters are now 2-1 away from home with the victory. They jumped out to a 21-4 edge after the first quarter and maintained control from there. Westhill (2-7, 1-6 FCIAC) got as close as 10 points midway through the third period.
The Danbury lineup has lone senior starter Tanisha Cunningham at center with junior Tianna Rogers at forward. The perimeter is all sophomores with Chloe Perreault (game-high 13 points), Kianna Perry (seven points, all in first half) and point guard Viviana Flores (10 points, pair of 3-pointers).
The group is unselfish in its passing and aggressive in its defense as they like to get some easy baskets on the fast break.
The best news for Hall of Fame coach DiNardo is the Hatters can go nine or ten deep. Which means mistakes can have you watching from the bench.
Sophomore reserve guard Tenley Wallin was a spark off the bench with 10 points while Iyanna Neal added six points.
Danbury graduated four senior starters from last year’s 15-5 overall, 12-3 FCIAC squad.
“I saw the potential in our current starters as freshmen. Chloe Perreault was the only one who played extensive minutes last year,” DiNardo said. “I wanted these girls to watch a lot from the bench last season. I wanted them to understand exactly what playing varsity ball in the FCIAC entailed.”
The versatility of the Hatters is an asset. Perreault, Flores and Perry can knock down 3-pointers. Rogers and Cunningham are tough customers on the offensive and defensive glass. Flores is a fine orchestra leader at point guard.
The 7-2, 5-1 start is impressive. But the Hatters aren’t taking any bows yet.
They know the toughest portion of the schedule lies ahead. The margin for error will be slim against Norwalk, Trumbull, St. Joseph, Greenwich and Stamford.
“I’m happy with the talent we have. We don’t have one standout star like some teams but being able to play 10 girls is a nice luxury,” DiNardo said. “We just need to keep focusing on the little things going forward.”