Taking two completely different paths didn’t stop sisters Ginny and Arianna Gerig taking the court with one another to start the season for the Staples girls basketball team. The duo is a major reason why the Wreckers are off to a 6-1 start and are one win away from officially qualifying for the state tournament, something they didn’t do a year ago.

Ginny Gerig, a senior, hadn’t played basketball since ninth grade junior varsity. The arrival of her freshman sister Arianna piqued her interest and the two are important contributors to the hot start.

"I really wanted to play with my sister and I really liked all the girls on the team, so I thought it would be a fun experience," Ginny said. "I knew that a lot of the girls in my grade were really good players; I thought we would be good."

Results on the court have backed this up. For good reason: Arianna is one of the best prospects to join the team in several years and has an extremely bright future, said coach Paco Fabian.

"We’re very excited," Fabian said. "There are so many things she can do already, and there are so many things she’s going to learn how to do. The sky is the limit for her; I think she can play high-level college basketball."

Arianna — who began playing in third grade and helped lead PAL teams to honors in middle school — learned the foundation of the game from her father, who stands 6-foot-9 and spent time on the court at Princeton University.

"When I was younger I went out and shot with him, worked on one-handed form, shooting, defense and post moves," Arianna described. "He coached me in rec; his influence helped a lot."

There were still nerves when she stepped onto the varsity court for the first time, competing against players up to four years older than her.

"I was really excited because it was something I’ve been looking forward to since I was in PAL," Arianna said. "It was surreal to step on the court. I think I was nervous at the beginning, but all of the girls were really welcoming. Once I started to get in the groove it was good."

Arianna Gerig exploded for 22 points in her last outing, a 57-44 loss to Danbury Tuesday that ended the Wreckers’ perfect start to the season.

Ginny Gerig spent most of high school focusing on her volleyball career, which concluded with an excellent individual performance for the Wreckers. Gerig went from All-FCAIC honorable mention as a junior to first team All-FCIAC this fall.

Each brings something different to the court, each of which has proven valuable early in the season. Arianna has offered a ball-handling and scoring punch on offense while Ginny has protected the paint in key moments of close games.

"(Ginny) has flashes of brilliance and she has other moments where she hasn’t played in a couple of years," Fabian said. "We’re not sure what to expect until the game happens and then we find out. The more she plays the better she’ll get."

One of her bright spots came in the most recent game; a 49-40 win over Manchester Dec. 28. Gerig co-led the team with 12 points and hauled in 10 rebounds in a game that was close throughout.

The schedule is about to toughen considerably for Staples, beginning with Friday’s game at Fairfield Warde. Early-season success has raised expectations, though. The team has hopes of reaching the FCIAC playoffs for the first time in several seasons.

"I want to get into FCIACs because I know that’s been a struggle for Staples," Ginny said. "We want to improve the basketball team’s persona, and make it a team that girls want to come play for and are excited to play on."

In a sport where just one player can help change the direction of an entire program, the outlook for Staples just got that much brighter. This season — highlighted by the contributions from the Gerig duo — might be the start of a leap into annual contention.

"We know (Arianna Gerig) and (sophomore point guard) Elle Fair are the future; we’re going to ride them for the next couple of years and hopefully they can take us a long way," Fabian said.