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WESTPORT -- The Danbury High girls basketball team doesn't plan on taking any steps back after rolling to its first FCIAC title a year ago.

Staples learned that the hard way on Wednesday evening.

Using runs of 12-0 to start the first quarter and 15-0 to begin the second, the Hatters pulled away for a 60-30 rout of Staples and looked every bit the legitimate contender.

"You're looking at, in my estimated opinion, a top-five team in the state of Connecticut," Staples head coach Ed Huydic said of Danbury. "They came out firing on all cylinders. For somebody sitting in the stands watching it, it's an attractive form of basketball--run the floor, knock down (3-pointers), layup after layup.

"They were outstanding."

Four different players scored in double figures for Danbury (1-0), which led 37-16 at halftime and by as many as 33 points in the second half. Junior guard Rachel Gartner led the Hatters with 14 points, while senior guard Uniqua Tucker added 12 points, including nine in the opening quarter. Gartner's twin sister, Rebecca, had 11.

A popular choice around league circles to repeat, the Hatters provided their longtime coach with just the start she was looking for after finishing 25-1 a season ago.

"After what everybody said, I've got a bull's-eye on my back. ... We have to play every game ready to get knocked off," said Jackie DiNardo, who is in her 26th year at the helm. "I'm very pleased with how we started."

Danbury locked down defensively along the perimeter and held Staples scoreless for close to four minutes to begin the game. The Hatters quickly transitioned to offense on most of those possessions and generated points off the fast-break.

"The transition was disturbing," Huydic said. "For us not to be able to get back was troublesome."

Staples (0-1) trailed by as many as 15 points in the first quarter and cut the deficit to 22-11 heading into the second. Senior Nicole Bukovsky scored six of her team-high 12 points in the opening quarter. Her backcourt mate, Erica Stein, finished the game with 10 points.

Danbury used balanced scoring to begin the second half with an 11-2 run. The Hatters opened up a 30-point lead in the third quarter--the largest of the game at that time--before Staples answered back with two quick buckets from sophomore guard Margaret Fair and Bukovsky.

Six different players scored in the second half for the Hatters, taking some of the responsibility off the shoulders of the Gartner sisters. Sophomore forward Allie Smith had 10 points in the win, while guard Lindsey Eanniello scored five.

"People think it's only a Rebecca and I type of game. We don't want it to be like that," Rachel Gartner said. "We're going to be off some nights and it's great that other players can step up and take our roles."

"That's what makes us kind of unique," DiNardo said. "We got (scoring) from everywhere."

Conversely, the Wreckers struggled to find consistent scoring on the evening. Their largest run of the game was 6-0 in the second quarter.

After seeing three starters from last year's team graduate, Huydic knows that the Wreckers must generate offense to keep their streak of 30 straight state playoff appearances alive.

"This is going to be a work in progress all the way to the end of February and hopefully into March," he said. "Our goal is to win eight games. Anything more than eight we'll take."; 203-255-4561 ext. 114;



Nahla Ward 2 0-0 4 Cassandra Almonte 0 0-0 0 Rachel Gartner 6 2-2 14 Allie Smith 5 0-0 10 Uniqua Tucker 5 1-1 12 Kellie Gaston 1 0-0 2 Kasey Boisvert 0 0-0 0 Rebecca Gartner 5 0-0 11 Kaitlin Aldridge 0 0-0 0 Lindsey Eanniello 2 0-0 5 Kayla Handberry 1 0-0 2 Janine Kerr 0 0-0 0 Shannon Geary 0 0-0 0 Melissa Peachman 0 0-0 0. Totals 27 3-3 60.


Margaret Fair 1 0-0 2 Natasja George 0 0-0 0 Ruby Steinberg 0 0-0 0 Allison April 0 0-0 0 Fallon Bottone 0 0-0 0 Abigail Lustig 0 0-0 0 Dayna Gelman 1 0-0 2 Emily Stanford 0 0-0 0 Madeline Schemel 2 0-2 4 Julia Bartimer 0 0-0 0 Nicole Bukovsky 4 1-4 12 Sophie deBruijn 0 0-0 0 Callie Bartimer 0 0-0 0 Talia Hendel 0 0-0 0 Sarah Mahoney 0 0-0 0 Kelsey Bobrow 0 0-0 0 Alyssa Perry 0 0-0 0 Erica Stein 3 3-4 10 Meredith Bemus 0 0-0 0 Theresa Mall 0 0-0 0. Totals 11 4-10 30.

DANBURY 22 15 17 6--60

STAPLES 11 5 8 6--30

3-pointers: D--Tucker, Rebecca Gartner, Eanniello. S--Bukovsky 3, Stein 1.