As we prepare to turn the calendar from 2012 to 2013, we'll ring in a new set of storylines for the high school sports season. Here are a few to keep an eye on over the next few months:
Will a boost from the backcourt net a playoff spot? -- Head coach Colin Devine has made no secret about what he expects of the Staples High boys basketball team this season. A nine-win team a season ago, the Wreckers are hoping to do more than simply back into the state tournament. The Wreckers, who were ousted in the LL state first round a year ago, have no interest in being another one-and-done.
Coming into this year, Devine tossed around phrases like "FCIAC playoff time," and it's now easy to understand why. Although the sample size is small--just three games to be exact--the Wreckers have been fascinating to watch, mainly because of their electric backcourt tandem of James Frusciante and Peter Rankowitz. The senior guards can do it all--shoot from the perimeter, drive to the basket and dish the ball--and often present matchup problems with their size and quickness.
Rankowitz has averaged just over 22 points in Staples' first three games, while Frusciante has scored just over 17 points a game. If those two can keep up that pace over the next couple months, the thought of the FCIAC playoffs will no longer be just talk. It will be a reality.
Can they keep the streak alive? -- The Staples High girls basketball program is holding onto a streak to be proud of. For 30 consecutive seasons, the Wreckers have been a part of the state tournament, something only one other team in the state can lay claim to. It doesn't take a lot to qualify for states these days--a team must win 40 percent of its games--but the streak still speaks to a remarkable string of consistency and longevity.
Can Staples push that streak to 31?
Although three starters from a year ago graduated, leaving this season's roster with an experienced backcourt and an untested frontcourt, the early returns look positive. The Wreckers are 3-2 in their first five games, with their losses to defending FCIAC champion Danbury and unbeaten Stamford. There's no shame in that.
The Wreckers might not possess the wealth of talent that they had last season, but they've shown they can win games. That's always easier said than done.
Can they continue to light the lamp? -- If you've happened to catch a glimpse of the Staples-Weston-Shelton boys hockey team, you might've noticed a common theme.
The Wreckers have been able to score, and they've done so a lot. Through four games, the Wreckers have scored 27 goals and are 3-1. That's a good start, but it also begs a few questions. They can't possibly keep at this pace, right?
The schedule has been on the lighter side thus far, but it's guaranteed to pick up in terms of competition once the FCIAC games hit. Established programs like Ridgefield, Darien and New Canaan will present far more challenges.
The Wreckers won't score at this pace against those teams, but they aren't looking like the type to be shut out either. A little scoring can go a long way. The Wreckers have to hope that their early returns are a sign of things to come.
Will they continue to climb? -- Staples High's Henry Wynne and Nathaniel Boley are awfully good at what they do. Wynne, as you might know, is looking to duplicate an All-American season while competing in the 1,000-meter and two-mile runs for the Wreckers' indoor track team. Boley, who like Wynne is a senior, was an FCIAC champion swimmer in the 100 freestyle and 100 backstroke a year ago. Both are a year more experienced and a year more skilled.
Sometimes the questions for these two talents isn't, "Can they win?" More often, we start asking ourselves, "How much can they win by?"
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