By: Contributing PAL Parents and Players
The 2012-2013 Fairfield County Basketball League (FCBL) has begun play. Once again, Westport PAL is fielding eight talented teams of 5th through 8th grade girls and boys. Below are season previews for each team, along with early season results.
Westport PAL 5G (By: Elise Stone)
Coach Karen Puskas has chosen a team of twelve (12) spunky and committed fifth grade girls for their initial travel basketball season. After just two (2) weeks of practice, 5G hit the hardwood for its first game in Ridgefield, easing to a 5-point victory on strong contributions from L. Puskas (10 points) and N. Udell (8 rebounds).
Following the Thanksgiving holiday, 5G had a successful home opener last Saturday (12/1), jumping out to an early lead and holding it throughout to defeat Danbury (27-12). M. Shorrock was the offensive spark-plug (8 points). 5G completed the weekend by traveling to Redding-Easton on Sunday. In a grueling defensive battle, 5G prevailed (21-14) with relentless defense and rebounding (4 rebounds each) from A. Carter, G. Cooper, A. Gerig, L. Puskas, A. Seideman, M. Shorrock and E. Stone, together with scoring punch from M. Shorrock (8 points) and L. Puskas (3 points).
After 3 consecutive victories, 5G will look to continue building on its early season success when it travels to Yanity Gym to take on Ridgefield this Saturday (12/8) and to Chalk Hill School to battle Monroe on Sunday.
Westport PAL 5B
Coach Charles Connor has assembled a high octane group of eleven (11) fifth grade boys ready to compete in the FCBL’s 6 Boys B East Division. Following initial practices, 5B put coach Connor’s teachings to the test in its first game last Sunday (12/2), hosting St. Theresa-Trumbull. 5B passed that initial test, defeating St. Theresa-Trumbull by eight points, 39-31.
5B heads for its first weekend of multiple games, hosting Shelton on Saturday (12/8) and cross-town rival Westport YMCA on Sunday (12/9).
Westport PAL 6G
Coaches Johanna McNelis and Andrew Lipman return a talented squad of ten (10) players after a successful 2011-2012. T. Birch, G. Bromberg, E. Fair, R. Greenberg, E. Lipman, S. Panzer, M. Phelps, K. Rutter, K. Zager and K. Zaritsky have been focused on practice, practice, practice – traveling to an initial scrimmage against Weston just this week.
6G gets it cranked up to play this weekend, traveling to Darien on Saturday before hosting St. Mary’s-Ridgefield in 6G’s home opener on Sunday.
Westport PAL 6B
Coach Shuan Malone has chosen ten (10) hard-working sixth grade boys for another season in the competitive FCBL A East Division. Following three weeks of practice, D. Basich, S. Baxt, D. Honig, N. Kanfer, O. Lindenbaum, C. Lynch, M. Reale, E. Vishno, D. Ward and B. Wilk hosted Madison Black 6B in 6B’s home opener last Sunday (12/2). Carrying-over a trend from last season, 6B played a close, back and forth contest, ultimately falling by a single point.
6B will look to rebound from the opening game disappointment with a pair of home games this weekend. On Friday evening (12/7), 6B will host Newtown Blue 6B. On Saturday afternoon, 6B will host Greenwich Flame Red 6B.
Westport PAL 7G (By: Mark Didio)
Long-time PAL Coach Chris Scholz has an abundance of tough and talented 7th grade girls, including several AAU players, to compete in the FCBL’s 7 Girls A Division. 7G features E. Yin, S. Smith, A. Amacker, B. Schwab, N. Dienst, E. de Bruijn, I. Didio, B. French, C. Revelli, A. Troelstra, M. Johnson, C. Taylor and S. Carter.
7G kicked off the season with a very impressive win on the road against Trumbull (33-25) last Friday (11/30); however, an early season test came on Sunday as 7G traveled to Bethel to face a very big, strong and well coached team. In a very physical game, Bethel got off to an early lead and kept B. Schwab, N. Dienst and A. Troelstra busy battling under the basket and on the boards. Bethel maintained its lead throughout, extending to double digits in the fourth quarter; however, a “never give up” attitude and almost perfect execution of a full court press helped 7G come storming back. Lead by E. Yin, M. Johnson and C. Taylor’s tenacious defense with multiple steals resulting in layups, the lead was cut all the way down to 4 points. Unfortunately, time was not on 7G’s side and the ladies fell to Bethel by 6 points (50-56).7G will take on Newtown Blue in its home opener this Friday (12/7).
“The most important measure of how good I played was how much better I’d made my teammates play” – Bill Russell
Westport PAL 7B
In 2012-2013, 7B will be armed with tenacity and hard-work from the players and fundamentals and tactics from coaches Vinnie Rissolo and Andrew Strauss. M. Brown, Z. Feinstein, H. Levi, R. Llamas, J. Lubell, S. Parimal, B. Pearl, R. Quinn, D. Rogers, B. Stein and E. Zinn will be competing in the FCBL’s Jim Callahan 7 Boys B Division this season.
With just three weeks of practices under their belts, 7B kicked off its season by participating in the 2012 Joe Coppo Memorial Tournament in New Canaan this past weekend (11/30 through 12/2) against high quality competition. 7B competed hard and played close games all weekend before succumbing to the talented Greenwich Flame, New Castle, New Canaan Black and Newtown Blue.
The stiff competition of the tournament is expected to prepare 7B well for its season, which continues with a double-header this Sunday (12/9). In the morning, 7B travels to take on Southbury before heading to Stamford for a late afternoon finale.
Westport PAL 8G
Following a championship last season as 7th graders, returning players Julia Brower, Virginia Gerig, Grace McGinley, Morgan McWhirter, Claire Meehan, Charlotte Rossi, Rachel Seideman and Olivia Troy are joined this season by talented newcomer Mary McGee and will be coached by former Warde stand-outs Sam DiLeo and Kasey Keegan. Following practices that began in early November, 8G headed to New Canaan to compete in the Joe Coppo Memorial Tournament .
In four games between Friday and Sunday, 8G showed a combination of experience playing together, the impact of fresh coaching voices and the intensity and excitement of beginning a season. 8G defeated the Ridgefield Rockets (30-20), New Canaan (48-21), the Stamford Young Timers (37-19) and Yorktown (37-12), finishing second in the tournament on the basis of point differential over a common opponent.
8G looks to keep the momentum on Friday (12/7) in its home opener against Easton-Redding, followed by a trip to play Weston on Saturday.
Westport PAL 8B (By: John Pritchett)
After three weeks of practice with coaches Glenn O’Neill, Tom Whalen and Brennan Morgan, 8B kicked off its season by participating in the Joe Coppo Memorial Tournament in New Canaan. Returning players Kenny Brill, Ben Casparius, Matty Fair, Ryan Fitton, Brendan Massoud, Mack Muller, Sean Pritchett, Fritz Schemel and Justin Seideman are joined this season by talented newcomers Joshua Berman and Jesse Levinson.
Beginning last Friday evening (11/30) and through Sunday, 8B played four games against top area teams, finishing 2 and 2, with its 2 losses by a combined total of 4 points.
In Friday’s opening game, 8B raced out to an early lead against Fairfield-Wakeman and never looked back. In the 51-33 victory, Ben Casparius and Sean Pritchett led the scoring with 15 and 9 points, respectively. Strong offensive performances were also turned in by Josh Berman (6 points) and Justin Seideman (6 points). Mack Muller scored 4 points and played tough interior defense against Wakeman’s large center, sweeping the defensive glass before turning an ankle and being forced to miss the remaining tournament games.
In 8B’s second game on Saturday afternoon, it took on the tall and talented Darien YMCA team that was an FCBL tournament finalist last March. Without Mack Muller and other talented big man Ryan Fitton, the team stepped up to the challenge, employed a myriad of defensive schemes and prevailed in an extremely well-played early season contest, 50-48. Ben Casparius (20 points) and Justin Seideman (16 points) led the offense, while Sean Pritchett, Brendan Massoud and Jesse Levenson applied stiff defensive pressure and limited Darien to single shots with effective defensive rebounding.
Playing again immediately following the exhausting victory over Darien, 8B took on Scarsdale in a “nail biter” that featured slow pace and extended offensive possessions. Down throughout the first half, 8B crept ahead by five into the second half before running out of gas to a well-coached team from Scarsdale that converted its possessions and free throws down the stretch to pull out the victory, 37-39. Sean Pritchett (15 points) and Justin Seideman (9 points) led 8B, while Kenny Brill, Fritz Schemel and Jesse Levenson provided sparks throughout.
In its last game of the weekend early on Sunday morning, 8B faced the New Castle Flames from Chappaqua. Without Messrs. Casparius, Fitton and Muller, 8B played short-handed but with tremendous heart, rushing out to an early double-digit lead, surviving a fierce New Castle comeback, regaining the lead with under 10 seconds to play in the game but then succumbing to a last-second desperation 3-point shot at the buzzer that gave New Castle the thrill of victory and 8B the agony of defeat, 46-48. Playing most of the game, Justin Seideman (29 points) and Sean Pritchett (10+ rebounds) almost willed 8B to a victory. Strong bench contributions came from Matty Fair (4 points and 4 rebounds while anchoring 8B’s 1-3-1 zone defense), Brendan Massoud (4 points and tremendous ball pressure from the front and wings of the defense), Jesse Levenson (2 points and point guard leadership throughout the game) and Josh Berman (4 rebounds).
8B celebrates its home opener this Friday (12/7) against West Haven, before traveling to play Shelton on Sunday.