Led by West Haven girls' basketball coach Jessica Moriarty, close to 100 players participated in the first annual West Haven Blue Devils Fundamental Basketball Camp this past week, August 11-15, 2014. The players worked with Moriarty, varsity players and had the opportunity to meet college coaches.
Congratulations to Ava Gambardella on being selected to the 2013 -2014 Southern Connecticut Conference All-Quinnipiac Division First team.
Westies fall to Shelton in season finale
By MIKE MADERA
(February 19, 2014) – Looking to close the season with a 3-game winning streak, theWest Haven girls’ basketball team traveled to Shelton in Wednesday’s season finale.
Unlike the prior meeting with the two teams, West Haven was unable to close the deal and fell to the Gaels, 41-33. With the loss, West Haven closed the season with a 2-18 record.
"I thought we played hard, but we just seemed to have a tough time putting the ball in the basket," West Haven coach Jessica Moriarty said. ""It seemed like there was a lid on the basket, but we did not play our best game.
"Shelton is a scrappy team and plays hard. Although we played hard, they outworked us in different aspects of the game."
West Haven was on its defensive game in the first half, allowing just 14 points. The second half proved to be a different story.
After allowing just 14 points in the first half, including 5 points in the second quarter,West Haven could not duplicate the effort in the second half. Shelton nearly matched the first half total in the third quarter alone, scoring 13 points, as Shelton took a 27-25 lead after three quarters of play.
Shelton held off the Westies with a 14-8 run in the final quarter. West Haven got to the free throw line just once in the contest.
"Coming into a saeason, you never know what to expect," Moriarty said. "Everyone always has their opinions and thoughts on what a team should accomplish and what they shouldn't. I thought we had unbelievable leadership from our three seniors and they really set the tone for West Haven basketball in terms of how hard you should work They were great examples and leaders to the young kids on our team, and our team, for the most part, are mostly underclassmen."
Amanda Martino and Kial Watts each scored 8 points in the loss for West Haven. Kaitlynn Cooke added 6 in the loss.
"I can;'t expres how proud I am of every girl on our team," Moriarty said. "The growth shown from the beginning of the season to the end is tremendous. If you compare games from when we played teams in the beginning of the year to the end, there is a huge, positive difference."
Sara Skoronski led Shelton with 12 points.
Westies post second win on Senior Night
By MIKE MADERA
WEST HAVEN (February 17, 2014) – It has not been the easiest of seasons for theWest Haven girls’ basketball team. Coming close to a winless season, the Westies ended any of those thoughts with a victory over Shelton two weeks ago.
West Haven added another notch in the win column Monday evening when the team used a strong first half to defeat Wilbur Cross 52-37 on Senior Night at West Haven High.
The second straight victory improved West Haven’s record to 2-17 with the season finale in Shelton Tuesday evening.
"Tonight was a great game for us," West Haven coach Jessica Moriarty said. "This game has shown the growth of the team as a whole and as individuals. We have gotten better every day and the girls really displayed that tonight.
"We lost to Cross the first time by five and did not play well at all. Overall, we played a very good basketball game. Cross is extremely tall and I thought we battled the entire game on the boards, given our lack of height. Ava (Gambardella) is a difference-maker and a beast on the boards. We're a different team with her on the floor."
The Westies, who have played considerably better the last three games, led early in the contest, riding the play of senior Amber Bonewicz to a 15-11 lead after one quarter. Bonewicz gave the Westies leads of 9-5, 11-9 and 15-11 as her positioning allowed for rebounds and close range shots.
Leading by two points, Bonewicz and fellow senior Ava Gambardella increased the lead to 6 points. Bonewicz hit second quarter buckets for leads of 17-13 and 19-15 before Gambardella’s basket increased the lead to 21-15.
"All three seniors have been wonderful in my first year here at West Haven," Moriarty said. "They have made the transition very easy since day one. They are very respectful, hard working kids who I am extremely proud of. Watching them grow on and off the court as young adults in such a short period of time has been a very humbling and rewarding experuience. I wish I had more time with these three girls and could coach them longer, but I am very grateful for the time I had with them."
After closing the quarter on an 8-6 run, West Haven led 29-21 at the half. West Havenincreased the lead to 12 points in the third quarter and closed out the game allowing just 10 points in the fourth quarter.
"Ava has been our leader on the court all year," Moriarty said. "She plays her heart out and is a great competitor. She plays bigger than she really is and rises to any challenge she is faced with. She is a game changer and the type of player that has and can put the team on her back.
"Amber is one of the hardest working kids I have ever coached. She battles in every drill, every possession, every play. She has really set the tone for the younger kids and has been a great leader for the girls. Amber is always positive and always gives 100 percent in anything she does. Maggie gas really been the catalyst in keeping the team chemistry and morale up all year. Despite our record, she has kept the team together and really keeps a positive attitude all the time, something that is not easy to do. She has been a leader both on and off the court and comes to practice every day with a good attitude and works hard."
Bonewicz and Gambardella owned the boards for West Haven as each had 8 rebounds. Gambardella led the Westies with 16 points, Bonewicz finished with 12 points and Amanda Martino had 7.
Westies post first win of year over Shelton
By MIKE MADERA
(February 7, 2014) – It may have taken a day longer than it would have liked, but theWest Haven girls’ basketball team is finally in the win column.
A day after losing a tough overtime battle to Hamden, West Haven finally got in the win column with a 36-30 victory over Shelton at West Haven High Friday evening. The win guarantees the Westies will not go winless and improved their record to 1-17 on the season.
"After a hard fought, gritty game against Hamden, I was extremely proud of my girls for how hard they fought and battled," West Haven coach Jessica Moriarty said. "They played a lot of minutes Thursday night in a physically and mentally draining game. To rebound from that tough loss and to come out and compete hard and get a win the next night shows the character of these girls."
Senior Ava Gambardella played a big part in the victory as she scored 15 points and grabbed 16 rebounds.
In a game which was close throughout, Gambardella came up big. When the Westies needed a big basket, it was Gambardella who came through. Gambardella was also big on the boards.
Amanda Martino (above), Ava Gambardella (below) and the Westies picked up their first win of the year, Friday, February 7, 2014 against Shelton. File photos courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
Leading by nine points entering the final quarter, West Haven hoped to avoid the same fate of 24 hours earlier. This time, West Haven held on despite scoring just four points in the final eight minutes.
"I am so proud of them and how hard they play every day," Moriarty said. "It showed in the win. They were more than deserving of it and I couldn't be prouder of them.
"It's always a weight off your shoulders to get the first win, no matter when it comes in the season. Hopefully, this momentum will carry throughout the rest of our season so we can end on a positive note, especially for our three seniors."
West Haven again struggled from the free throw line, hitting just 50% (7-of-14) of it shots.
The Westies did their damage in the third quarter. Leading by six points, West Havenscored 13 points in the third quarter to take a 32-23 lead.
Maggie Borer, Kial Watts and Kaitlynn Cooke all hit 3-pointers in the game with Watts and Cooke finishing with 5 points apiece and Borer and Madison Watts chipping in 4 apiece.
Despite the efforts of Kial Watts (above) and freshman Kaitlynn Cooke (below), West Haven could not pick up its first win of the year against Hamden, February 6, 2014. Photos courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
At the Buzzer
First win of year slips away from Westies
By MIKE MADERA
WEST HAVEN (February 6, 2014) – For 31 minutes and 55 seconds, the West Havengirls’ basketball team did all it could to pick up its first victory of the year. It was the last five seconds which proved to be West Haven’s downfall.
Failing to seal the game at the free throw line, West Haven allowed Hamden’s Alivia Wilson to penetrate in the lane and score as time expired in regulation to force overtime.
Four minutes later, Hamden rode the momentum of the buzzer-beater and defeated the Westies, 66-61, at West Haven High Thursday evening.
“I was just telling myself to stay calm,” Wilson said.
West Haven, which fell to 0-17 on the year, had plenty of opportunities to seal the game in the fourth quarter. The Westies could not do so as they missed seven free throws in the quarter and were a painful 1-for-5 in the final 54 seconds with the lead.
West Haven coach Jessica Moriarty gives instructions to her team in a 66-61 overtime loss to Hamden, February 6, 2014. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
“We missed seven free throws in the fourth quarter and two more in overtime,” West Haven coach Jessica Moriarty said. “That’s nine missed free throws. We had some defensive lapses. It’s growing pains.
“We had a couple of mental lapses on defense and we missed our free throws. That is the difference in the game.”
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Westies fall to state’s second-ranked team
By MIKE MADERA
(February 4, 2014) - If the West Haven girls’ basketball team was to defeat the state’s second-ranked team in Mercy, the team was well aware it needed to avoid a slow start.
Unfortunately for the Westies, that was exactly what happened. Scoring just 5 points in the opening quarter, West Haven trailed early and never recovered in a 79-32 loss at West Haven High Tuesday evening.
With the loss, West Haven fell to 0-16 on the year and has only four games remaining to avoid a winless season.
"Mercy is a very well-rounded, very fundamental basketball team," West Haven coach Jessica Moriarty said. "There is a reason why they are number two in the state. They are extremely disciplined and can shoot the ball lights out.
"I thought we competed much better tonight than the last time we played them. When you play a team like Mercy, you have to have specific goals for yourselves. We focused on valuing the basketball and having good possessions. I stressed that if we can do positive things against Mercy, we can do those same things against any other team we play. I thought there were a lot of positives from this game that we can hopefully carry over into the upcoming games."
The Tigers made sure their 17th win would come in easy fashion as they outscoredWest Haven 24-5 in the opening quarter. Although West Haven doubled its scoring output in the second period, the team still trailed Mercy 42-15 at the half.
For a West Haven team struggling to score, the 27 points were too much to overcome.West Haven scored just 17 points in the final 16 minutes and lost by 47 points.
The Westies connected on only 10 field goals and a 3-pointer by Maggie Borer in the game. Mercy connected for 32.
Ava Gambardella and Kial Watts each led West Haven with 7 points. Amanda Martino and Mariana Kalandar each scored 4.
Sarah Gall led four Mercy players in double figures with 15 points.
Setting the Pace
SHA uses strong second half to defeat Westies
By MIKE MADERA
(January 31, 2014) – Time is ticking away on the West Haven girls’ basketball season. With a handful of games remaining, the Westies are still searching for that elusive first win of the year.
Struggling during different stretches throughout the year, that phase continued Friday evening as the Westies were hurt by a lack of offense in both the first and third quarters in a 52-29 loss.
"We were not mentally ready to go for the game," West Haven coach Jessica Moriarty said. "We came out flat. Kial (Watts) hit some big shots in the second quarter to keep us in it, but we continued to play flat as a group in the second half. We got outworked and outplayed overall."
In both quarters, the team combined for six points and was outscored 26-6. The crucial 16 minutes proved to be the difference in the game as West Haven fell to 0-15.
The Pacers led by eight points after one quarter, before the Westies showed some offense by scoring 13 points in the second quarter and trailed 24-17. Any hopes of aWest Haven comeback ended in the third quarter when the Pacers went on a 14-2 run to take a 38-19 lead.
Kial Watts drained three 3-pointers for West Haven and finished with 11 points. Maggie Borer hit two 3-pointers and finished with 6 points. Ava Gambardella also finished with 6 points and 8 rebounds and Amber Bonewicz had 4 points.
Lauren Davis led the all scorers with 14 points. Siobhan Fennell had 11 points and Alison Narracci scored 10 for the Pacers.
Spartans roll past Westies
WH drops to 0-14 with 53-17 loss
By MIKE MADERA
(January 29, 2014) – Just one day after playing a solid game for three quarters against Sheehan, the West Haven girls’ basketball team knew it needed a solid performance against a tough Amity team.
That performance never materialized. Held to just seven points in the first half, including three in the second quarter, West Haven never recovered and fell to the Spartans 53-17 at West Haven High Wednesday evening.
"Amity is an extremely good, well-rounded basketball team," West Haven coach Jessica Moriarty said. "They are led by nine seniors and have a lot of experience and are very skilled at every position. The kids played hard, but the difference in experience really showed."
The Westies, who connected on just six field goals and four free throws in the game, dropped to 0-14 on the season.
The Spartans had nine players in the scoring column, including Kathleen Feng who led the team with 14 points. Mikaila Schmitt added 10 points.
Amity jumped out to a 10-4 lead after one quarter and led 21-7 at the half. An 18-6 run in the third quarter by the Spartans ended any hopes of a West Haven comeback as the We sties scored just 10 points in the second half.
Ava Gambardella led West Haven with 5 points. Kial Watts and Kaitlynn Cooke each scored 4 points in the loss.
Ava Gambardella (above) and Amber Bonewicz (below) played well, but it was not enough in a 70-52 loss to Sheehan, January 28, 2014. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
Out of Gas
Late rally propels Sheehan past Westies
By MIKE MADERA
(January 28, 2014) – The West Haven girls' basketball had to be scratching its collective heads following Tuesday evening's contest against Sheehan. Looking like a team which was on a mission to pick up its first win of the season in the first half, the Westies could not hold on in the final 16 minutes.
Outscored by 21 points in the second half, the Westies watched a 10-point lead disappear in a 70-52 loss to the Titans at West Haven High. The loss dropped West Haven's record to 0-13 and officially knocked the team out of postseason contention.
"In the first half, we were attacking," West Haven coach Jessica Moriarty said. "In the second half, we were on the defensive. We did not stay with that attack attitude."
Maggie Borer had 6 points in West Haven's loss to Sheehan, January 28, 2014. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
Behind the play of Ava Gambardella and Kial Watts, the Westies looked as if they might pick up their first win of the season as the pair combined for 33 points. Gambardella had 20 points, eight coming in the first quarter when West Haven jumped out to a 16-9 lead.
"I thought it was Ava's best all-around game, defeensively and offensively," Moriarty said.
Bonewicz scored five points in the quarter, including a 3-pointer which gave West Haven the 16-9 advantage. After Sheehan scored the next five points, Maggie Borer drained a 3-pointer with two seconds to go in the quarter, giving the Westies a 19-14 lead after the opening quarter.
A 3-pointer by Kial Watts extended the lead to 22-14 and another 3-pointer by Watts gave West Haven its biggest lead of the game at 32-22 with less than three minutes to play in the first half.
The Titans did not go away and five straight points to end the second quarter turned the contest around.
Olivia Collette, who drained four 3-pointers in the game and finished with 18 points, cut the Sheehan deficit to 34-29 with a 3-pointer in the final minute, before Joelle MarkAnthony's basket with 18 seconds left in the half sent Sheehan to the break trailing 34-31.
"We are a pretty balanced team," Sheehan coach Mike Busillo said after his team qualified for the postseason with its eighth victory. "We have a lot of players who can score.
"Olivia (Collette) hit four 3's and she has 36 this year. (Katie) Read can hit them and Joelle (MarkAnthony) can score from anywhere. We are balanced."
That balance for the Titans came through in the second half as the Titans took the lead for good in the third quarter. After another 3-pointer by Watts gave West Haven a 39-33 lead, Sheehan closed the quarter on a 14-3 run to take a 47-42 lead.
A pair of baskets by Kaitlin Lagase cut the deficit to two points, Julia Franzik evened the game at 39 and then gave the Titans the lead for good 31 seconds later with 2 minutes, 54 seconds to go in the third quarter.
Cassie Strickland took the air out of the Westies as she drained a pair of 3-pointers, including one with 30 seconds remaining in the quarter, for a 47-42 Sheehan lead.
"It feels good to get in," Busillo said of the tournament. "Obviously we need to win more games. We want to make it at least to the SCC quarterfinals. That is our goal.
"In a league as tough as this, I have to give the kids a lot of credit. This is six years in a row now for the program."
The Titans put the game away in the fourth quarter as the Westies ran out of gas. Another 3-pointer by Collette put West Haven in a 53-44 hole and the Westies never recovered.
"Collette and MarkAnthony are two of the top players in the SCC," Moriarty said. "We did not close it out in the second half. Our lack of experience showed."
The Westies got within six points on a basket by Gambardella with four minutes remaining, but Sheehan closed the game on a 15-3 run to seal the contest.
MarkAnthony finished with 17 points for Sheehan and Strickland had 16. Sheehan was big at the free throw line, hitting 13-of-15 shots, while West Haven was just 9-of-19.
Oh So Close
Westies fall to Branford, 42-31
By MIKE MADERA
(January 24, 2014) – While it may not be what the West Haven girls’ basketball team wants to hear, little by little the team is improving. Searching for their first win of the season, the Westies again came up just short.
Traveling to Branford, the Westies were even after three quarters, but could not pull through for their first win of the year, falling to the Hornets 42-31 Friday evening at Branford High.
The key to the contest came at the free throw line as the Westies struggled in the fourth quarter. Even after three quarters, West Haven could not connect at the line in the final quarter, hitting just 3-of-11.
"Free throws killed us," West Haven coach Jessica Moriarty said. "We were down four points, they fouled us twice and we missed all four free throws. They come back down and hit a three and we are down seven. We put them on the line and they made their shots.
"Free throws are free throws. We make them in practice. We get in a game and we rush them and don't make them. It is frustrating because it is not a physical thing. It is all mental. They are not used to being the one on the line taking the shot. Last year, the ball was always in Jayva's (Johnson) hands.. Twelve games in, it is not new anymore. It is the inexperiemce."
With the loss, West Haven dropped to 0-12 on the season. The Westies, however, were in their most competitive contest of the year.
Ava Gambardella continued to lead the Westies as she scored 11 points. Maggie Borer connected on four field goals and finished with 9 points, while Amanda Martino scored 4 points.
The West Haven offense took time to get going as the Westies scored only 12 points in the first half, including five in the opening quarter. The Hornets were only slightly better as they scored 13 and led by one point at the half.
"Defensively, we played perfect," Moriarty said. "I could not have asked for anything more. We playeed unbelievable on defense.
"It is just a lack of scoring. No one catches the ball and has that mentality of just shooting."
West Haven had its best scoring in the third quarter as it put 14 points on the board and tied the game at 26. For the Westies, the fourth quarter was the blow which sent them home on the short end of the score.
Scoring only five points in the final eight minutes, West Haven could not pull out the victory. Branford capitalized at the free throw line and finished the game on a 16-5 run to win by 11.
The Westies were hurt at the free throw line as they attempted just 10 shots from the stripe and connected on only five.
Branford went to the line twice as many times and made twice as many free throws, which would prove to be a factor in the end.
Robin Norko led Branford with 14 points.
Westies fall in Moriarty’s return to East Haven
By MIKE MADERA
(January 13, 2014) - Despite starting the second half of the season without a win, theWest Haven girls’ basketball team hoped to get on the winning track Monday evening.
What made the game even more special was it marked the return of head coach Jessica Moriarty to East Haven, where she was an assistant coach before taking the helm of the Westies.
Despite a solid first half effort, West Haven was unable to sustain the offense in the second half, getting outscored 30-17, and falling to the Yellow Jackets 53-36 at East Haven High.
"We played a great first half," West Haven coach Jessica Moriarty said. "We played great defense in the first half. We got to the basket. We just got tired in the second half.
"It was weird being on the bench and seeing the other kids. I told the kids before the game it was not about me. It was about them. I told them to go out and play their hearts out and they did."
The loss was the eleventh in a row for the Westies and Moriarty to start the season.East Haven improved its chances of qualifying for the post season as it improved to 4-7.
After a slow start to the game in which West Haven scored only eight points in the first quarter, the Westies battled back in the second quarter, holding the Yellow Jackets to just seven points.
When all was said and done in the first half, West Haven trailed by only four points before coming out for the second half.
The final 16 minutes were a different story. West Haven had problems getting its offense going in the third quarter, scoring just eight points and watching its deficit soar to 16 points.
"East Haven knocked down some shots and we didn't," Moriarty said. "That is the difference in the game. We did not hit any jump shots. You have to be multi dimensional."
Ava Gambardella led West Haven with 16 points and 10 rebounds, while Lauren Lewis had seven and Amanda Martino added four. The Westies again were hurt at the free throw line, connecting on just 8 of 19 free throws.
Briana Wiel and Miranda Gladwin each scored 14 points as Wiel drained four 3-pointers.
All-State players - Kelley Camp '75, '76; Sue Passander '79; Catrina Hawley '97, '98; Jayva Johnson '13
Retired Numbers - Kelley Camp (Class of 1977) #13; Catrina Hawley (Class of 1998) #41
GIRLS BASKETBALL 2013-2014.
Moriarty to lead Westies
East Haven assistant tabbed to replace Eagan
By MIKE MADERA
Less than two months before the start of the winter season, the West Havengirls’ team has a new coach. The interview committee, led by chairperson and West Haven athletic director Jon Capone, has recommended former East Haven assistant Jessica Moriarty to lead the team into the future.
The final approval to hire Moriarty as the lead person will come when the Board of Education meets Monday, October 21.
Former Eastern Connecticut University star Jessica Moriarty will be recommended to lead the West Haven girls' basketball team as the new head coach. . Photo courtesy of ECSU athletics.
“We have a new coach with a lot of enthusiasm,” Capone said. “She showed a lot of enthusiasm in the interview and is a high energy person. She will bring that to the program.
“I look forward to working with her. She will lead us to play in the competitive Quinnipiac Division of the SCC.”
Moriarty, who spent two years as Anthony Russell’s assistant at East Haven, replaces legendary coach Jim Eagan, who retired from the court this past summer after a 33-year career, 25 at West Haven.
“After my career in college ended, I knew all I wanted to do is coach,” Moriarty said. “I am humbled by the opportunity to have a head coaching position at a young age. I hope to pass on my knowledge and passion of the game.
“Volleyball is wrapping up. It is just basketball now. I can’t put into words how excited I am to get the kids as prepared as they can be.”
The 24-year-old is a physical education teacher at Bailey Middle School and received her degree in Health and Physical Education at Eastern Connecticut State University, where she was also a star on the basketball court.
“I think being there (Bailey) is huge,” Moriarty said. “Being with the seventh and eighth graders, I get to see everybody, which is very important.
“I can see all the kids and the talent and I consider that a huge advantage in trying to mold them and having them stay in West Haven. It is frustrating losing kids to a parochial school. I will be with the kids.”
While at Eastern, Moriarty was an All-LEC (Little East Conference) selection following her junior and senior years and was the Defensive Player of the Year following her sophomore and junior campaigns.
Jessica Moriarty (r.). Photo courtesy ECSU athletics.
Moriarty, who graduated from East Haven High in 2007, scored 1,000 points in college and was more of a penetrating guard. While having the ability to score, Moriarty was a defensive star, who now wants to bring that concept to the Westies.
“I am definitely very animated and very passionate,” Moriarty said. “I want the kids to believe in themselves and not doubt themselves. They will be prepared. My biggest thing is they will be prepared.
“They will come every day and work hard. The practices will be harder than the games. The game will be fun. If you work hard in practice, it is more natural in the game. That is the mindset I had in college and it worked. We will go hard every day with every drill.”
With the hiring at West Haven, Moriarty will say goodbye to her hometown of East Haven, something which will not be easy.
“It is tough to leave (East Haven), but it is time,” Moriarty said. “I am ready to be my own coach. Coaching at East Haven with Anthony (Russell) has prepared me so much. I will take his knowledge and mine and still have the player perspective as I am still at a young age and I was a player. It will benefit the kids. I am excited to get started.”
Kial Watts drains one of her three 3-pointers in a 70-52 loss to Sheehan, January 28, 2014. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
THE HOME OF WEST HAVEN SPORTS
Kial Watts sinks a free throw in West Haven's 70-52 loss to Sheehan, January 28, 2014. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
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End of an Era
Legendary coach Jim Eagan retires
By MIKE MADERA
(September 3, 2013) - After 33 years and two stints at West Haven High, legendary girls’ basketball coach Jim Eagan is calling it a career. Citing his desire to spend more time with his family, Eagan stated his intent to retire toWest Haven athletic director Jon Capone today.
Eagan's retirement will become official once his letter of intent to retire from coaching the basketball team is accepted at the next Board of Education meeting in two weeks.
Eagan, a 2010 West Haven Hall of Fame inductee, felt he would either continue teaching or coaching in 2013. When he returned to start his 42ndschool year this past week, Eagan’s decision was made.
West Haven coach Jim Eagan (second from left), seen here with Jayva Johnson and her family as Johnson was honored for scoring 1,000 points, has called it a career, retiring after 33 years. Photo courtesy of WHHS.
“I have six grandchildren,” Eagan said. “I want to spend more time with them. It gets tougher to do. Coaching takes up a lot of time. I am not getting any younger.”
Eagan, who also spent eight years as head coach at Sacred Heart Academy inHamden, finishes his career with a 346-364 overall mark. After starting his coaching career 0-40 at West Haven, Eagan finishes 328-328 in the regular season between the two schools. Eagan was 95-85 overall at Sacred Heart and 251-279 at West Haven.
“I have been coaching for 33 years,” Eagan said of his career on the court. “That is more than half of my life. I still enjoyed the practices. I still enjoyed making a practice schedule and giving the kids a good, solid two hours.
“The games were getting harder. You leave at four after working all day and you don’t get home until nine or ten at night. I used to live in West Havenand that was two minutes away. Now, I live in Bethany and it is another half hour. The last couple of years I have taken every game home with me. It used to be I did not sleep after a loss. Now, I get so excited and think about the wins too and don’t sleep.”
His final game on the sidelines will be a postseason loss to Stamford in the opening round of the CIAC Class LL state tournament in the 2012-2013 season.
“Walking off the court after the game I did not know it would be my final game,” Eagan said. “I did not give it much thought. After the banquet, I really started to think about it.”
West Haven finished Eagan’s final season with a 9-11 mark in the regular season and a 9-12 mark overall. Eagan coached his lone All-State player as Jayva Johnson took home the honor in his final campaign.
With the season less than three months away, the search for a new head coach begins immediately. Long-time assistant Bob Forbes has to be considered one of the favorites to land the job.
Eagan coached his fair share of special players, from Jackie Wearing to Johnson. Along the way, Eagan had the opportunity to coach three players who scored 1,000 points in their career, including Carly Horobin, McKenzie Farquharson and Johnson.
Jim Eagan (l.) congratulates McKenzie Farquharson (c.) for scoring her 1,000th career point in the 2011-2012 season. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
In his 33-year career, Eagan’s teams have qualified to play in 25 state tournaments. At Sacred Heart, his teams qualified seven of his eight seasons, advancing as far as the third round in 1995-1996, while 18 of his 25 teams atWest Haven advanced to play in the tournament, several advancing as far as the second round.
Eagan won a Southern Connecticut Conference title in the 1995-1996 season at Sacred Heart and won the Quinnipiac Division in 2003-2004 atWest Haven with a 16-4 record. West Haven also won the District League in 1988-1989 with a 17-3 record.
Eagan’s West Haven teams from 1988-1989 and 2011-2012 set the West Haven record in wins as each had 17.
“I am going to miss the kids and the relationships you build with them,”Eagan said. “I am going to miss the two-hour practices. I take a lot of pride in the practices which are so precise. They are very structured and we get a lot done. There is nothing like knowing your team is prepared. We are not always going to be the best team on the court, but my teams will never go on to the court seeing something they were not prepared for. We were never surprised.
“It’s the practices and the kids. I still see kids now who are adults and we talk about the practices and look back on things. That’s the best part when you see a kid you coached years later. I had not talked to Jackie Wearing in some time, but she found me and told me she wanted me to be there when she was inducted into the (West Haven) Hall of Fame. That’s what I will miss. That means a lot.”
Over his 33 years, Eagan has many memories. He will always remember his first win at West Haven at Foran High after losing his first 40 games.
As his career progressed, the memories took on more meaning.
“I would say my best regular season memory was beating Mercy who was the number two team in the state the day of (former New Haven police officer and West Haven resident) Bobby Fumiatti’s wake. The line was so long I did not think I was going to make it to the game. When I got to the game, I just told the girls where I was and just told them it was just a game and to go out and have fun. We ended up beating them.
“In the state tournament, it was Carly’s (Horobin) year. We were a 10-10 team and we beat Norwalk in overtime by one point. That was a great game. Jackie Wearing and Carly Horobin were two of the toughest kids I ever coached. The wins and losses fade away, but the relationships stick around.”
On a personal level, Eagan describes his induction into the West Haven Hall of Fame in 2010 as a great honor.
“It is definitely a highlight for me,” Eagan said. “When I looked at the names which were in it, I was embarrassed. I did not think I belonged in their company. It is a great honor.”
Eagan was quick to point out his coaching career at West Haven was special. Working for athletic director Jon Capone made it even better.
“Jon Capone is the best athletic director I worked for in 33 years,” Eagansaid. “He never refused me a nickel. He was excellent and very supportive of the program. He was at every single game and banquet. He was great.”
A head coaching career which started in 1980 and took a brief detour to Hamden before returning to West Haven has come to an end.The run may be over but the memories for Eagan will last a lifetime.
Westies drop tenth straight in loss to SHA
By MIKE MADERA
(January 11, 2014) – The West Haven girls’ basketball team is getting closer to picking up its first win of the season. Unfortunately for the Westies, Saturday evening was not the night.
Scoring just one point in the second quarter, West Haven tried to bounce back but fell to Sacred Heart Academy 43-37 at West Haven High. The loss dropped West Haven to 0-10 on the year.
Maggie Borer. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
"We played hard," West Haven coach Jessica Moriarty said. "We missed some free throws in the first half. If the free throws go down, it is a different game. We cut it to four with ten seconds to go.
"We played hard. I am very proud of the way we played. We had a slow start and not a lot of offense."
The Westies were hurt in the first half, scoring just 10 points and only one point in the second quarter. The second half was a bit different.
West Haven matched its first half total in the third quarter alone, but trailed 33-20. The 13-point deficit was too much to overcome, despite scoring 17 points in the final eight minutes. Amanda Martino and Lauren Lewis led the Westies as each scored 11 points. Ava Gambardella added 6 points in the loss.
WH falls to 0-9 with loss to Cross
By MIKE MADERA
(January 10, 2014) – The West Haven girls’ basketball team has not had many close games lately. Looking to pick up its first win of the season, the Westies traveled toNew Haven Friday evening.
Despite playing better defensively, the Westies could not generate much offense and fell to Wilbur Cross, 34-29 at Wilbur Cross. With the loss, the We sties fell to 0-9 on the season.
Ava Gambardella. Photo courtey of Todd Dandelske.
"We had no offense," West Haven coach Jessica Moriarty said. "We came out flat to start the game and we could not come back. We did not get it done offensively."
The Westies got off to a slow start in the contest and that start would hurt West Haven. Scoring just four points in the first quarter, West Haven trailed early and needed to come back with an offense which has struggled.
West Haven could never take a lead with a nice cushion as the Governors led 18-11 at the half and 28-20 after three quarters of play. The Westies inched closer in the final quarter, holding Cross to six points, but could not pull out the victory.
Ava Gambardella scored half of her team’s points, finishing with 15 points on seven field goals. Kial Watts had 7 points and Marianna Kalandar had five for West Haven.
West Haven was hurt at the free throw line, shooting under 50% (7 for 15). Cross was not any better from the line, shooting 33% (6 of 18).Tameka Flowers and Troi Branham led Cross with 12 points apiece.
Lack of Offense
WH falls to Hamden
By MIKE MADERA
(January 7, 2014) – The West Haven girls’ basketball team is searching for its first victory of the season. If the Westies hope to get in the win column, they will need to pick up their offensive game.
Battling injuries and playing without key players such as Amber Bonewicz, the Westies struggled Tuesday evening at Hamden High. Those struggles contributed toWest Haven’s eighth loss of the year as the Westies fell to Hamden, 48-25.
After playing a bit better in the first quarter and trailing by only five points after eight minutes of play, the game changed in the final 24 minutes.
"We camne out flat to start the game and it got worse from there," West Haven coach Jessica Moriarty. "We did not play in eight days. I could tell from the warmups we looked like we were going through the motions. I felt we were going to come out flat and we did.
"We knew everything we had to do. I think not playing for a long time hurt. We were just not mentally ready to go."
The Westies struggled mightily on offense, scoring just one more point in the final three quarters than they did in the opening quarter. The offensive woes saw West Haven go from trailing by five points after one quarter to 14 at the half and 22 after three quarters.
"It was the worst game we played all year by far," Moriarty said. "We had 38 turnovers. No one wanted the ball in their hands. We had no leadership on the court."
The Westies never got close to double figures in the remaining three quarters and finished with only 10 field goals in the contest, including a 3-pointer by Maggie Borer.
West Haven was perfect from the free throw line, but only took four shots from the stripe. Madison Watts led West Haven with nine points, while Borer had five and Ava Gambardella four.
Lauren Singleton and Alivia Wilson led Hamden with 13 and 11 points, respectively.
Westies thumped by Tigers, 64-20
By MIKE MADERA
(December 30, 2013) – West Haven coach Jessica Moriarty felt her team had nothing to lose when it traveled to Middletown to play undefeated Mercy. The Westies, who are winless on the season, were not expected to win the contest and could play loose, with no pressure.
Unfortunately for West Haven, the Tigers never let the team in the game, jumping out to a 20-2 lead after one quarter and 32-8 at the half in a 64-20 victory over the Westies in Middletown Monday evening.
"There is a reason why they are the number two team in the state," Moriarty said. "They are very good. They are a team of all basketball players. They play all year. They are at a different level."
The Westies were overmatched in the contest, never scoring in double digits in any quarter. On the flip side, Mercy was solid from the field and free throw line, scoring in double digits in each quarter.
"I told them not to look at the scoreboard," Moriarty said. "I told them to forget the scoreboard and make themselves better and work on adjustments.
"They are bigger and taller. I wanted the girls to try and make adjustments. We wanted to do positive things."
The Westies had only five players in the scoring column and were led by Kial Watts with seven points. Ava Gambardella added six and Maggie Borer scored three in the loss.
The Tigers put 11 different players in the scoring column, had three players in double digits and were never in danger at any point in the contest.
Sarah Gallo led Mercy with 13 points, while Maura Fitzpatrick and Morgan Cahill each scored 11 in the win for the Tigers.
Westies fall in bid for first win of the year
By MIKE MADERA
(December 28, 2013) – The West Haven girls’ basketball team did everything it could early to win its first contest of the year. Unfortunately for the Westies, it was the second half which hurt.
Outscored 36-19 in the final two quarters, including 17-8 in the third, West Haven fell to North Branford 67-51 Saturday evening at West Haven High to drop to 0-6 on the season.
"We shut down defensively," West Haven head coach Jessica Moriarty said. "The defense fell apart and we stopped attacking the basket. We played tentative in the second half.
"We are dealing with some growing pains. We have some inexperence."
The Westies were a fired up team in the first half, roaring back to take a 32-31 lead at the half. That momentum of the first half never carried over as the Thunderbirds allowed just 19 points in the second half.
This was in sharp contrast to the first half, where West Haven scored 15 points in the first quarter and 17 in the second quarter.
"We had a good first half," Moriarty said. "We knocked down some big shots. We shot the ball well,but gave up too many. They shot lights out."
West Haven started the game in fine fashion as Kial Watts drained a 3-pointer for a 3-0 lead before North Branford’s Justine Johnson followed suit. Ava Gambardella hit two straight buckets for a 7-5 West Haven lead and another 3-pointer by Watts increased the margin to 10-5.
When Gambardella hit another basket, the Westies led 12-5. West Haven never built on the lead as missed opportunities at the free throw line and missed shots inside allowed the Thunderbirds to come back and close the first quarter on a 15-3 run.
West Haven’s only points the rest of the quarter came on a free throw by Gambardella to increase the lead to 13-8 and a basket by Amber Bonewicz to give West Haven a 15-14 lead.
North Branford ended the quarter on a 6-0 run as a 3-pointer by Gabby Augur put the Thunderbirds on top 17-15 and another 3-pointer by Sabrina LeMere with 5 seconds left in the quarter gave North Branford a 20-15 advantage after one quarter of play.
Gambardella led West Haven with 18 points. Watts added 14 points, including a pair of 3-pointers, while Maggie Borer had 11 points, including three 3-pointers.
West Haven again was hurt at the free throw line, connecting on just 13-of-22 attempts.
Johnson, LeMere and Augur led the Thunderbirds as Johnson finished with 25 points, including four 3-pointers. LeMere drained three 3-pointers and finished with 17 points, while Augur had 10 points.
"The three kids we had on the scouting report beat us," Moriarty said. "Johnson, LeMere and Augur beat us. We emphasized they were their shooters."
Westies fall just short in loss to Thunderbirds
By MIKE MADERA
(December 23, 2013) – West Haven coach Jessica Moriarty has stressed keeping things simple. She has also stressed getting off to quick starts.
While the Westies got back to basics Monday evening, a slow start proved costly in the end. Trailing early, then by 17 points at the half, West Haven rallied but came up short in a 50-39 loss to North Branford at North Branford High.
“The second half was great,” Moriarty said after her team fell to 0-5. “The first half killed us. We climbed out of a seventeen point hole. That takes a lot of energy out of you. We are not that deep.”
The Westies came out of the gates slowly. Despite taking an early lead, West Haventrailed 15-9 after the first quarter. The next eight minutes proved to be decisive to the Westies as the Thunderbirds went on a 19-8 run to take a 34-17 lead at the half.
“It’s a lack of confidence,” Moriarty said. “When we miss shots, the heads go down. We need to hit a few. It is hard to come out of a gap like that.”
Amber Bonewicz connected on a pair of free throws halfway through the quarter to getWest Haven within 15, before North Branford scored the final points of the half.
West Haven was a different team in the third quarter. Led by senior Maggie Borer, the Westies cut the deficit to eight points.
Borer opened the second half with three consecutive 3-pointers to get the Westies within 36-26. West Haven had its opportunities to get closer, but could not convert its free throws.
“Maggie (Borer) hit some big shots,” Moriarty said. “I hope it continues. She was able to knock down some shots.
“The second half was much better. We held our own in the second half.”
Trailing 40-26, the Westies connected for the final six points in the third quarter. Bonewicz started the run, before Kaitlynn Cooke hit a field goal with 32 seconds left and a pair of free throws with three seconds to go.
Borer got the Westies within 42-34 with a bucket in the fourth quarter, but any chance of a West Haven comeback ended at the free throw line.
West Haven missed five free throws in the fourth quarter and was just 11 of 25 from the line in the game.
The West Haven defense played much better in the second half, holding North Branford to just six field goals in the final 16 minutes, including only two in the fourth quarter.
West Haven played without senior Ava Gambardella, who missed the game due to illness.Kial Watts led West Haven with 13 points, while Borer had 12 and Bonewicz had 8 in the loss. North Branford had four players in double figures, led by Sabrina LeMere’s 13 points.
Westies fall to 0-4 with loss to Cheshire
By MIKE MADERA
(December 20, 2013) – Looking for that first win of the season, the West Haven girls’ basketball team played better. Unfortunately for the Westies, it was not enough asCheshire pulled away in the third quarter in a 52-33 victory over the Westies Friday evening at West Haven High.
The Westies, who fell to 0-4, were in the game throughout the first half as they got production from several different players. West Haven trailed by six after one quarter of play, but could not stay within single digits at the half.
"We were right there," West Haven coach Jessica Moriarty said. "We were down five with a minute and a half to go in the first half and we did not make a stop on defense. Now, we are down eleven.
"We came out flat in the second half. The morale was down and we had a flat second half."
West Haven has struggled to score thus far in the season and a 17-point deficit after three quarters was too much to overcome.
Moriarty did see some positives as Kial Watts connected on three 3-pointers to finish with a team-leading 10 points along with Ava Gambardella. Watts’ shots from the outside were big as the Westies look to get an outside game going to set up the inside.
"Kial (Watts) got it going," Moriarty said. "I told her she has the ability to do that all the time."
Gambardella and Amber Bonewicz were big on the boards as the two combined for 21 rebounds. Bonewicz, who had four points, also grabbed 11 boards for West Haven, while Gambardella had 10 rebounds.
Ava Gambardella had 10 points and 10 rebounds, but the Westies fell to Cheshire 52-33, December 20, 2013. File photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
West Haven did a solid job on the defensive side as the team was a plus-6 on the boards and held the Rams' top player, Missy Bailey, to just a pair of field goals and seven points.
"Amber and Ava have done a nice job on the boards," Moriarty said. "We are not a big team by any means. Amber has been doing a great job crashing the boards and getting the rebounds.
"Ava is strong. Offense is our problem We were a plus six on the boards. We are doing the little things like rebounding and boxing out. We are just not putting the ball in the basket."
The Westies again struggled from the free throw line, connecting on just 2-of-11 opportunities. Moriarty is looking for her team to get to the line more and connect more.
"We are a good free throw shooting team," Moriarty said. "We never miss in practice. In the game, we rush. We chuck it instead of shooting it.
"It is a process of building the confidence. Sometimes, it looks like we are afraid to shoot.
The Rams rode the play of Sara Como and Jill Howard as the pair combined for 28 points. Como led the way with 15 points, Howard had 13 and Missy Bailey added seven in the win.
Westies fall to Career
Big first half propels Panthers to 83-44 win
By MIKE MADERA
(December 18, 2013) – Searching for its first win of the season, the West Haven girls’ basketball team knows it has to take it step by step. While the team fell to Career to drop to 0-3, West Haven got its offense going later in the game.
Traveling to play Career, the Westies watched the Panthers light up the scoreboard in the first half, scoring 49 points, on the way to an 83-44 win over the Westies in New Haven Wednesday evening.
“We were taking baby steps going into tonight’s game,” West Haven coach Jessica Moriarty said. “Tonight, we took a big step. We played our hearty out. A simple turnover or missed lay up here or here and it’s not a 29 point game at the half. I can’t complain with the way we played.
“Maybe it took playing against a top team like this to boost our confidence. We saw we can score. The girls remained very positive throughout the game. That is not coaching. That is all them.”
Despite the 39-point loss, Moriarty saw plenty of reasons to be optimistic. The coach saw her team become more confident with its offense and the team continued to have a positive attitude.
The game was decided early as West Haven was held to nine points in the opening quarter and 20 points in the first half. A telling statistic in the game for West Havencame at the free throw line.
Coming into the season as a solid shooting team from the charity stripe, the Westies again struggled, connecting on just 48% (14-29) of its shots.
West Haven trailed by 15 after one quarter and 49-20 at the half. Struggling to score early in the season, West Haven could not rally from the 29-point deficit, scoring just 24 points in the second half.
“At that point, it is just disregard the score,” Moriarty said. “We wanted to point out all the positives. We are playing the number three team in the state and they are that for a reason. They girls had such a good attitude.”
Amber Bonewicz led the Westies with 13 points and 12 rebounds. Four Westies, including Amanda Martino, Kial Watts, Ava Gambardella and Kaitlynn Cooke, each scored six points.
“Amber dominated on the boards,” Moriarty said of Bonewicz. “She got a bunch of offensive boards. She does all the little things.”Career spread out the scoring with 12 players in the scoring column, only two in double digits. Tanaya Atkinson led the way for the Panthers with 25 points, including 18 in the first half, while Charleese Smith added 11.
Westies drop to 0-2 with 59-28 loss to Lyman Hall
By MIKE MADERA
(December 13, 2013) – After falling to North Haven in the season opener, West Havencoach Jessica Moriarty felt a shot here or there could have gotten the Westies going. For Moriarty and the West Haven girls’ basketball team, they ran into a team which had every shot fall two days later.
Sparked by 41 points in the first half, Lyman Hall defeated West Haven 59-28 in an SCC interdivision game at West Haven High Friday evening. With the loss, West Haven fell to 0-2, while Lyman Hall improved to 2-0.
“We came out flat,” Moriarty said. “They (Lyman Hall) are a very good basketball team. They will do a lot of good things in the SCC. They are a very well rounded basketball team.
“They jumped out to a 22-4 lead. We were in trouble early. The defense is there. We are going to win games in the upper 30’s and low 40’s. We want to make it ugly with our defense.”
The Trojans were lights out from both the floor and the free throw line. Lyman Hall connected on 19 field goals, including nine 3-pointers, and was 12-of-12 from the free throw line.
“They did not miss,” Moriarty said.
Lyman Hall set the tone early scoring 23 of the game’s first 28 points and leading by 18 points after one quarter, 23-5.
West Haven’s lack of offense came through in the second quarter as the Westies were outscored 18-6 and trailed 41-11 at the half.
Amanda Martino (11) and her West Haven teammates could not stop Lyman Hall in a 59-28 loss. File photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
“We came out not ready to go,” Moriarty said. “That is disappointing. Mentally, you have to be prepared and we were not mentally prepared. We can’t do that.
“In high school, anyone can win on any day. It is a matter of adjusting to their roles. We need to knock down a couple of shots and hopefully we will develop into our roles.”
West Haven played better in the second half, but it was too little too late.
Freshman Kaitlynn Cooke led West Haven with 11 points, including three 3-pointers. Ava Gambardella had 7 points and Maggie Borer added 4 in the loss.
A game after hitting only five field goals in the season opener, the Westies drained 11 in the loss. The Westies struggled from the free throw line, hitting on just 2-of-9 shots.The Trojans had 8 different players in the scoring column and were led by Taylor Mierzejewski who scored 22 points with four 3-pointers. Krista Petersen added 12 points and 7 assists and Hailey Hergott had 6 points. Nicole Mierzejewski had 10 rebounds in the win for Lyman Hall.
Westies held to 6 points in second half in loss to North Haven
By MIKE MADERA
(December 11, 2013) - West Haven’s Jessica Moriarty understood she entered her first year as head coach looking to replace the scoring of the graduated Jayva Johnson. Just one game into the season, the Westies already understand it will take a complete team effort to be successful this season.
After playing well in the first half, West Haven did not hit a field goal in the second half, was scoreless in the third quarter, turned the ball over 32 times, and fell to North Haven 33-19 in the season opener for both teams Wednesday evening in North Haven.
“North Haven is very comparable to us,” Moriarty said. “We were down one at the half with two of our shooters on the bench in foul trouble. We did not hit a field goal in the second half. We had to put them at the line at the end of the game. We were down five with a minute and a half to go.
“Offense is a confidence thing. I would rather have the defense be right. It is unheard of to not score and not hit a field goal. I think, had we hit a shot or two, the girls start to feel confident and it is a little different. The offense will come. We just have to work hard and do the little things.”
The Westies connected on only five field goals in the contest, two each by Kial Watts and Ava Gambardella and one by Madison Watts, but never connected from behind the 3-point line.
The Westies got off to a quick start in the game, taking an 8-4 lead after one quarter.West Haven, which trailed 14-13 at the half, hit all five of its field goals in the opening 16 minutes along with three free throws.
“We looked good in the first and second quarters,” Moriarty said. “We got the ball inside and were up after the first quarter. But, we got into some foul trouble early in the second quarter as Ava (Gambardella) and Amanda (Martino) both picked up their second fouls.
“We held our own in the first half. It was a defensive game. There were a lot of turnovers. It was sloppy. There were first game jitters. I thought we did well to hold them to 14 points in the first half.”
The Westies were able to contain North Haven's Jillian Johnson from the field, as she connected for only five points. Johnson did her damage from the free throw line where she added 10 points.
The Indians, who outscored the Westies 6-0 in the third quarter, led by only five with 1:30 remaining, before West Haven forced the Indians to the free throw line. The Indians connected on just 10 field goals in the game and were only 12-of-21 from the line.
“We did not attack in the second half,” Moriarty said. “We were tentative. I thought we were back on our feels. I think it opened up some eyes. Someone has to step up. We are a very good free throw shooting team. We made our free throws. We just have to get to the line more.”
The Westies had three players who were perfect from the free throw line, including Maggie Borer, Gambardella and Kial Watts. Unfortunately for the Westies, the perfection only produced seven points.
“We want to emphasize the positives,” Moriarty said after her team dropped to 0-1. “Defensively, we did exactly what we wanted to do. We held Jill Johnson to a 3-pointer, a lay-up and free throws, four of which came when we put them to the line in the last minute. We contained a good player like Jill Johnson.
“If you don’t score, you will not win. We had some looks and opportunities, but the shots just did not fall. Nothing would drop.”
Kial Watts led West Haven with 7 points, Gambardella added 6 and Madison Watts and Borer each added two points in the loss. Gambardella led the defense with 7 rebounds, Amber Bonewicz had 6 rebounds and Madison Watts added 3 as West Haven was a plus four on the boards. Lauren Lewis, Amanda Martino, and Kial Watts each had 2 steals for the Westies.
Westies prepare for 2013-2014 with new coach and new leaders
By MIKE MADERA
One look into the West Haven gymnasium says it all. Gone are the likes of graduated seniors Jayva Johnson, Mykelle Coleman, Katy Hoyt and their 647 points.
Also gone is legendary coach Jim Eagan, who decided to retire after last season, in which the Westies fell to Stamford in the opening round of the state tournament.
With Eagan gone, the reigns have been handed to Jessica Moriarty, who, with her new staff, is installing her own systems. While there are plenty of changes, Moriarty is fully impressed with her team just a few short weeks into training.
“They go hard in everything they do,” Moriarty said of her young group. “Every one of the kids loves to be here. They have been very easy to coach. They enjoy the sport.
“The atmosphere and camaraderie has been wonderful. They want to do whatever they need to do to get better, whether it is in the weight room lifting as a team or watching film. They are taking the steps to be successful. It has been that day since day one.”
Moriarty credits the seamless transition in coaching staffs to her tri-captains. Seniors Ava Gambardella, Maggie Borer and Amber Bonewicz have led by example, with the younger kids following suit.
“The three of them have displayed unbelievable leadership,” Moriarty said. “With a new coaching staff, they are buying in to what we are saying. They have done a nice job with the other girls. They go hard in every drill. They are doing a wonderful job.”
Gambardella will play center/forward, Borer is a guard and Bonewicz is a guard/forward. With the graduation of Johnson, the trio will be counted on heavily to lead the offense.
Borer was a threat from the outside last season as she led the team with 32 three-pointers and was second to Johnson in points with 160. Gambardella was second on the team with 124 rebounds last year and also scored 83 points. This year, along with Bonewicz, Moriarty will be looking for more offense from the pair.
According to Moriarty, there may not be a dominant scorer this year, but the small team will need to distribute the ball and get several different players in the scoring column each night.
Juniors Kial Watts and Amanda Martino are guards with Martino running the offense from the point. Watts had 45 rebounds last year and will be expected to get more points on the offensive side.
Junior Alexis Severino, sophomore Madison Watts, both of whom are guards, will play significant minutes each game, while freshmen Lauren Lewis and Kaitlynn Cooke will come off the bench and contribute.
“We are extremely short,” Moriarty said. “We have to play within ourselves. We will need a lot of different players to score. If we do the little things and play hard, there is no reason we can’t step up to the challenge. We are putting a big emphasis on doing the little things and playing hard.
“On any night, anyone can be the leading scorer. We want Maggie (Borer) to do more than just shoot 3-pointers. She has been doing well. I think she will. We want Ava inside. I think the team will develop.”
With all the new faces, Moriarty still has the same goals of the West Haven program. The first-year coach expects her team to be playing in the postseason.
“Our first goal is to get the eight wins and get in the SCC and state tournaments,” Moriarty said. “We want to get better every day and take a step forward. We want to do well in the SCC and state tournaments once we get there.
“The biggest goal is for the girls to buy into the new system. If we do that and play hard, there is no reason why we can’t make our main goal of eight wins.”The Westies open the season Wednesday, December 11 at North Haven at 7 p.m