Girls basketball Gators eyeing return to playoffs
Advancing to the semifinal-round of the FAA Basketball Tournament three times and the finals once, Greenwich Academy has indeed, been one of the teams to beat in the conference the past four seasons, a trend it hopes continues.
“We may take some bumps and bruises along the way this year, but we still have high expectations,” Greenwich Academy coach Wes Matthews said. “We have to learn fast, be serious, play hard and play the game the right way. If we do that, we will be just fine.”
Following an 0-7 start, the Gators rallied, finishing the 2017-18 season 8-12, while making it to the FAA Tournament semifinals. Kaitlyn Davis, who missed the first part of last season with a leg injury, will serve as captain of the team with her twin sister, Olivia Davis.
A versatile player, who has scored 1,305 career points for Greenwich Academy, Kaitlyn Davis may be sidelined for the season, as she recuperates from an injury to her right knee (meniscus). She will play Division I basketball at Columbia University next season. Though she won’t be in uniform, Davis attends practices and will be at each game offering support to her teammates.
“I’ll definitely be like a big sister,” said the 6-foot-1 Kaitlyn Davis said, a member of the GA squad since she was an eighth-grader. “I’ll be there to help my teammates gain confidence as the season goes on.”
Olivia Davis, a guard/forward, is one of the players that will be relied upon to pick up the scoring load in Kaitlyn Davis’ absence.
“The past four years I’ve been working on the court with Kaitlyn, so it’s going to be different,” said Olivia Davis, who will continue her basketball career at Hamilton College next winter. “We have a lot of new players on the team, so we are working hard to make connections with them and build chemistry.”
Junior guard Francesca Sileo, a starter on the squad since her freshman year, is also expected to boost the team offensively. Sileo, who can play both guard positions, is the Gators’ main 3-point shooting threat.
“We are definitely going to have to step up without Kaitlyn, especially on the press break,” Sileo said. “We might not be able to get the ball inside as much, so we have to handle it ourselves and help control the offense.”
Greenwich Academy opens its season with a home game against Kent School Wednesday at 3:30 p.m.
AT THE HELM: Matthews, a Bridgeport native who starred at Harding High School and Wisconsin, before taking his skills to the NBA, is beginning his fifth season Greenwich Academy’s coach.
He guided the team to the FAA Tournament finals and a 19-6 record in the 2016-17 season, where it lost to rival St. Luke’s. GA also made the FAA semfinals in the 2014-15 and 2015-16 and 2017-18 seasons under Matthews’ leadership.
“Wes pushes us to go farther than we think we can go,” Olivia Davis said. “We work hard and it has shown with what we’ve accomplished the past four years.”
WHO’S GONE?: Graduation claimed forwards Casey Gottlieb and Grace Surgent.
WHO’S BACK?: GA should be solid in the front court with Olivia Davis, Sileo and junior Tyler Gray leading the way. All three players have stellar ball-handling skills and can aid the squad offensively. Kaitlyn Davis, though out of action, is hoping to help the team with her leadership skills.
Also returning is sophomore Sofia Gianuzzi.
STRENGTHS: “Our defense is going to be one of our strong points,” Olivia Davis said. “It we can consistently play well on defense then we can convert on offense.”
Said Matthews: “Our guards are strong and experienced. They have been in a lot of big games for us the past few seasons. Francesca can play both the one and two guard positions and Olivia is versatile as well. They are going to battle.”
QUOTABLE: “I am definitely excited to see what we can do,” Kaitlyn Davis said. “I want to see us win it all.”
Added Sileo: “I’m hoping this is the year we can win the FAA title.”