WESTPORT -- The Staples High girls basketball program has been a model of consistency throughout Ed Huydic's coaching tenure, one that spans over three decades.
The Wreckers have qualified for the state tournament for 30 straight seasons--the second-longest streak in the state, according to Huydic--and have won three FCIAC titles over that span.
With three starters from last year's team (13-9, reached LL second round) having graduated, the Wreckers will need a reshuffled lineup to keep that streak alive this season.
"This year's version of the Staples Wreckers is going to be guard-oriented, very inexperienced power players and a team that's going to be searching for its identity as the season goes on," said Huydic, who's in his 35th season with the program.
Huydic said the team will rely heavily on two returning seniors, guard Erica Stein and small forward Nikki Bukovsky, for production and leadership on the court. Stein was second on the team in scoring (12.5 points a game) last year and made all-FCIAC second team. Bukovsky notched just over 10 points and four rebounds a game and was all-conference honorable mention.
"Any time you have experienced players coming back, one must rely on them," Huydic said. "In this case, there's no exception. Stein and Bukovsky must score and must be on the floor for us to be competitive."
Stein and Bukovsky are certainly accepting of that responsibility and both are eager to ease the transition that comes with the graduation of a talented class.
"Now that I'm a senior, I see what it's like to step up and be in charge," Stein said. "I think that's definitely important if we want to go somewhere with the team."
With stability in the backcourt, Staples is now looking for an inside presence after graduating forwards Jess Coelho and Syd Houseworth. Cohelo averaged a double-double last year (14.8 points and 10.3 rebounds) and Houseworth pulled down seven rebounds a game.
Huydic said that sophomore Madeline Schemel will take over as the starting center after playing mainly on junior varsity a year ago.
"She's just going to be thrust right up into the limelight and into a position where she has to really grow up during the season," he said.
Huydic called the power forward spot "up for grabs" and will look to a group that includes sophomore Kelsey Bobrow and junior Sophie de Bruijn. Senior Fallon Bottone and junior Meredith Bemus are expected to provide depth.
"If we don't get play out of the middle--offensive play out of the middle--it could get very tough for us," Huydic said.
Hyudic said that Staples could play four guards at a time to help alleviate some of the inexperience in the frontcourt. The team has depth at guard with senior Alison April, juniors Dayna Gelman and Natasja George, and sophomores Maggie Fair, Tessa Mall and Abby Lustig. One of last year's starting guards, Remy Nolan, graduated.
"We like to think we're going to be a competitive team this year," Huydic said. "The goal of course is to make the state tournament. ... That's always the minimum."
Bukovsky knows that the guards need to shoulder a lot for Staples to continue moving forward.
"We really need to step up and be leaders on the court now," Bukovsky said. "It's hard not having those inside players, but we need to teach (the new forwards) so hopefully they can help us out."
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