With the season rapidly approaching, Greenwich High School girls basketball coach Chrys Hernandez recently decided it was time to give her squad, which is a bit short on experience, a brief history lesson.
“Our theme is, ‘you don’t know where you are going, until you know where you came from,’” Hernandez said. “We literally went back to the history books and did a timeline of every basketball team Greenwich has ever had. We noticed the ebbs and flows of the program and its rich history. There were a couple of years in there where we were really good.”
A significant portion of the program’s success has come in the past decade, with the Cardinals qualifying for the postseason almost every year — including the 2015-16 season when it advanced to the CIAC Class LL championship game at Mohegan Sun.
Last winter marked the first time Greenwich didn’t make the Class LL Tournament since the 2012-13 season, so it’s intent on re-establishing itself as a contender.
“We have a lot of new players who have the desire to want to take it to the next level and we have experienced players too,” Hernandez said. “We have a good foundation to build from, which will hopefully, help us get to where we were two years ago.”
Seniors Michelle Morganti, Taylor Stamos and junior Jordan Moses, all of whom, saw significant time on the court last season, are the Cardinals’ captains. Morganti also served as one of the Cards’ captains last season.
“Last season was a learning experience for me in terms of being more of a leader,” Morganti said. “It also helped me learn about overcoming a lot of challenges. So far, we are working on getting our chemistry going for the season.”
Said Stamos, who should spark the Cardinals at the forward and center positions: “I am trying to step up this year by not only being a presence on the court, but off the court as well. I want to help the underclassmen step into their roles on the team.”
Like Morganti, Moses will be relied upon to help fortify the backcourt, which hopes to set the squad’s up-tempo style of play.
“It definitely feels really good to lead this team, I think we can do really good things this season,” Moses said. “One of things we’ve been focusing on is to be more of a running team. In order to out-run every other team it comes down to defense and communication.”
AT THE HELM: Hernandez is beginning her eighth season as coach of Greenwich. She has guided GHS to the playoffs in all but two of her first seven seasons. In the Cards’ 2015-16 campaign Greenwich reached the Class LL finals at Mohegan Sun, where it lost to Stamford. Two seasons ago, (2016-17) Greenwich finished with a record of 12-9 and lost to Ridgefield in the FCIAC Tournament quarterfinals.
WHO’S GONE?: Guard Kim Kockenmeister, Greenwich’s leading scorer last season, graduated and is continuing her basketball career at Swarthmore College. Commencement also claimed forwards Beth Williamson, Jordan Stefanowicz and Tess Lamhaouar.
GUARDS: Julia Conforti, a junior, who was sidelined last year with an injury, is back in action and should be one of the team’s main backcourt players. Morganti and Moses add experience and skill to the backcourt, while freshman Kristin Riggs has shown plenty of promise during the preseason and should be a key contributor.
Junior Kate Loughran, sophomore Nealia Maheia and sophomore Marielle Povinelli bring depth to the guard position.
FORWARDS/CENTERS: Stamos has a solid low post game and could help the Cards in the rebounding department. Freshman forward/center Kelly Martyanov will start for the Cardinals, following a stellar preseason and junior Violet Mikalopas and senior Ciara Munnelly join the squad in the frontcourt.
STRENGTHS: “Our team bonding and chemistry has been amazing,” Hernandez said. “Practices have been fun, they really do look forward to coming in and working every day.”
Said Stamos: “Our skills are improving, which will hopefully, help us get our record up from last year.”
CAPTAIN’S COMMENT: “Some of our goals this year, include making states and FCIACs,” Morganti said. “We have a lot of chemistry this year, with a lot of new girls and some returning players.”
OPENING WEEK: Greenwich hosts Trinity Catholic Wednesday at 6 p.m, then will compete at the Rye Rotary Tournament at Rye (N.Y.) High School on Friday and Saturday.