Speed and guard play key for East Hartford High School girls’ varsity basketball
By Corey AmEnde - Staff Writer
East Hartford - posted Fri., Dec. 13, 2013
With no returning starters from last year’s team, the East Hartford High School girls’ varsity basketball team will rely on the junior class for production and leadership this season. “I wouldn’t consider them young in age, but I would consider them young on the court,” said head coach Matt Rondinone. “I think these girls are going to start to really come together as they work with each other.”
Last year’s team went 14-8 overall and lost in the second round of the Class LL state tournament to Lauralton Hall, the eventual runner-up. But all five starters were seniors and have since graduated and taken with them 95 percent of the offensive production from last season.
“The experience factor is what’s going to be the test this year,” said Rondinone.
This season the team will look to juniors Briana Gerena and Malena Quiles to set the pace. Both Gerena and Quiles saw quality minutes last season on the varsity team. Rondinone said Quiles is a “sharp-shooter,” and a player “who’s going to stretch the defense and be able to hit the outside shot, while Briana is our driver/playmaker.”
Rondinone said the guards are the strength of the team this season but that he’s also “looking forward to seeing our bigs really work hard down in the post and get their touches and be able to rebound and out tough our opponents.”
The core group of post players this season includes Cariantairis Morales, Tory Moses and Xiana Mebane. “If those three work hard and get their touches down in the post and set the hard screens for our guards, we can do a little pick and roll stuff and run our offense the way it’s supposed to run with driving to the basket and using our speed,” said Rondinone.
The second-year head coach said he will utilize the teams’ speed to fuel an up-tempo attack but also wants to be able to slow it down and execute in the half-court offense. On defense, the team will mix in a variety of presses including half-court, three-quarter and full-court.
The area where the team will look to improve upon throughout the season is toughness, according to Rondinone. “We have to prove ourselves toughness wise,” said Rondinone. One way the team can do this is by winning the battle on the boards.
Despite a relatively inexperienced team, Rondinone said the goal is to get eight wins and make the state tournament. “With being juniors, I told them it’s a process, and where we start and where we are and where we’re going to go is going to change,” said Rondinone.
The girls opened their season with a road loss to Simsbury, 50-29, on Wednesday, Dec. 11. They play Weaver tonight for their home opener.