The outlook is familiar in the three girls basketball leagues that impact Litchfield County.
Defending NVL champion Holy Cross, winner of three of the last five league titles (Torrington interrupted with two), is on track to add another.
Thomaston, the five-time defending Berkshire League champion, is the favorite for a sixth.
And Capital Prep, the best of them all, is the odds-on favorite to add to its Constitution State Conference and state championship collections.
Locally, here’s the view:
Torrington’s Red Raiders sailed along very well in the NVL last year until All-State guard/forward/center Brie Pergola went down with a leg injury in the middle of the season.
Then Torrington’s youth showed up, trying to do more than it was capable of, and the Raider season took a steep downward bend.
“Everybody is healthy,” said Head Coach Mike Fritch, in a transparent message that Pergola, now a senior, is fully recovered.
That huge plus is balanced by the fact that everybody in the league knows they have to cover her like a blanket.
“We’re trying to keep everybody where they belong, touching the ball at least once while setting up screens for Brie,” Fritch said.
The rest of it is up to Pergola, a consummate team player whose only historic fault is her tendency to fire a great pass instead of a shot.
“She’s going to have to figure it out for herself,” smiled Fritch. “One thing you can count on: We’ll work hard.”
Thomaston’s girls basketball secret is no secret at all. How many little girls do you know who can dribble the ball between their legs to the tune of Sweet Georgia Brown in a packed gym before they’re tall enough to get on most carnival rides?
That’s the story of the Thomaston Trotters, a core of dozens of Thomaston girls who offer the halftime entertainment at most Golden Bear home games.
It’s a regular part of the progression at the smallest high school in the Berkshire League.
A core of local heroes like Morgan Sanson, Nicole Shaefer, Danielle Genest, Gabrielle Hurlbert, Charlotte Eberhardt and Samantha Brostek graduate.
The next wave, many of whom have dreamed and worked for this moment since they were little girls, finally get their chance.
Casey Carangelo, Camryn Capaldo and Julia Quinn are the senior leaders for a program that’s been to the Class S finals four years in a row and won twice, with a large cadre of juniors behind them, surprising only in the fact that they seem like seniors.
“They all can do a little bit of everything,” said Head Coach Bob McMahon. “We’re looking to see which underclassmen want to do it. A lot of them have been chomping at the bit for a long time.”
Among the other teams in the league, Wamogo, Gilbert, Lewis Mills, Terryville and Northwestern all bring back strong players with plenty of experience.
Their only question is, can they match the Golden Bears’ desire, fostered as little girls who don’t seem old enough to hold a basketball, much less dribble it between their legs?
Wolcott Tech served its penance for many years in the Berkshire League before finding success in the CSC, composed largely of other state technical schools.
Coach Brian Hurlbert led the Wildcats to the state tournament for the last two years in that environment. Now, he’s stepped down to make way for Jennifer Stango, who found similar success as head coach of the Wildcat softball team last year.
“We’re a very young team trying to build a foundation,” she said.