An uphill climb for Killingly girls' basketball

By Denise Coffey - Staff Writer
Killingly - posted Mon., Dec. 3, 2012
A Redgal inbounds the ball. Photos by D. Coffey.
A Redgal inbounds the ball. Photos by D. Coffey.

Redgal guard Taylor Sarty was the first to score in a Killingly-Westbrook scrimmage on Nov. 29. The senior captain, along with junior captain Hannah Guari, will lead the team in what coach Mark Lowell calls a rebuilding year. Most of the Redgals are freshmen. Three of them will most likely start, according to Lowell.

With Sarty at guard, Guari will play a guard/forward position so she can swing from one position to another. Freshman Kayla Zmayefski will start at center. At 5'9”, she is one of the tallest players on the team. Meagan Bianchi will start at forward even though she's used to the guard position. “She's going to have to play forward this year,” Lowell said of the 5'6” freshman. “We need the size.” Karissa Slowik, another 5'6” freshman, will round out the starting line-up as a forward.

Twelve out of 18 players are freshmen. Before the season started, Lowell lost the talents of Jamie Leduc, who was slated to start at center, to a knee injury earlier in the year. “I told them, 'We have to understand we're young. We're starting new. We're in a rebuilding process,'” Lowell said.

The young team held up fairly well against a taller, more experienced Westbrook. At the half they trailed by 1 point. While the Redgals may be short, they proved to be athletic. And Zmayefski was aggressive at center. “She's not afraid to get physical,” said Lowell. “I was happy with that. I'd rather have to tone down the aggression than get it going. She just has to get over the jitters.”

Without a single dominant player, the Redgals will have to learn to work together as a team, a prospect that Lowell likes. “They are going to grow as a team,” he said. “They're going to have to use their athleticism and speed and grow into their positions. They have to understand it's a learning process.”

Westbrook put the game out of reach for Killingly when Killingly went to a man-to-man defense. “The other coach wanted to see man-to-man,” Lowell said. The learning experience did not go in the Redgals favor. They didn't match up well. Some 5'6” Redgals had to cover 6'3” Westbrook players. It's a scheme Lowell hasn't used, and hasn't taught. He doesn't plan to start using it anytime soon. “For me it was enlightening. I know not to play man-to-man,” he said.

“I just have to keep them positive,” Lowell said of his team. “I have to let them know it's okay. The future is going to be a lot brighter for us.”

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