By KEVIN ROBERTS
The Southington girls basketball team had one senior on its CIAC state tournament roster in the 2017-18 season. That one senior was Janette Wadolowski, however, and she is a big loss for the 2018-19 Lady Knights.
“She could do so many things, play the point guard, play a post, play a wing,” coach Mike Forgione said. “She could just do everything for us, and I think that the thing that we need to look for this year is someone to step up and take that leadership role.”
Wadolowski is now at Tufts University, and she took her team-leading 23.7 points, 10.9 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 2.8 steals with her. Southington went 16-7 and played in both the CCC and Class LL state tournaments.
“Great players make other players play up to their potential, and I think that’s what Janette did for us,” Forgione said. “She got the best out of the other players, and I think that led to our success last year.”
The good news for Southington is that it returns a bunch of young players who saw significant playing time in 2017-2018. Sophomores Alli Carr (23 games played, 7.0 points, 7.0 rebounds) and Kelley Marshall (23 games, 4.0 points, 6.3 rebounds, 1.2 blocks, 1.1 steals) were key contributors. So did juniors Madison Hulten (22 games, 4.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 1.3 blocks) and Bri Harris (22 games, 6.5 points, 2.1 rebounds, 0.8 rebounds).
“I’m excited, I think we’ve got a good group of kids, and we’ll see who wants to step up and take over those roles,” Forgione said. “It doesn’t have to be one person. It could be many people taking over the roles that Janette did last year for us.”
Sophomore Livvy Pizzitola will be stepping into a bigger role at point guard this season, following in the footsteps of Wadolowski and Maggie Meehan (sophomore at Williams College) before her. Forgione will be looking for leadership from co-captains Kristen Longley, a senior, and Megan Mikosz, a junior. Mikosz hadn’t been cleared to play for scrimmages against Wilbur Cross and Middletown, but she gave her teammates plenty of guidance from the sideline.
“Probably one of the hardest-working kids you’ll ever come across,” Forgione said about Mikosz. “She’s worked so hard to get herself better and ready for the season.”
Those are the seven main players for Forgione, and he’s looking for each one to do her job.
“I really need seven leaders, that’s what I’m looking for,” Forgione said. “I’m looking for seven leaders.”
Southington will continue to work on its shooting and finishing, according to Forgione. On defense, it’s all about becoming more aggressive.
“If we can play aggressive, hard-nosed defense and mix it in with our athleticism running the floor, I think we can give a lot of teams a big scare,” Forgione said. “I think that’s our role this year, is to play some of these powers and really put a scare into them. They’ll know they were in a game when they play Southington basketball.”
Southington will need to be ready to play right off the bat. The Lady Knights open the season with games against Conard, Glastonbury and Farmington, and that’s just the start of it.
“Our West games are with Hall, who is going to be a great team again. They went to the Class LL finals, and we play them twice,” Forgione said. “We got Conard twice, who’s going to be really good. NW Catholic is much improved, Farmington went to the Class L finals. RHAM won Class L, and we’re playing Coginchaug this year on the road, who won Class S.”
Forgione wants the Lady Knights to make sure they leave it all out on the court like they did last year.
“If we don’t come with that mental toughness and that willingness to do whatever it takes, it’s going to be difficult,” Forgione said. “If we can do that, I think we can play with anybody and challenge anybody. Can we do that every day, and bring that energy, bring that excitement? We’ll see. It’s a long year, we’ll see what happens.”
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Kevin Roberts, email him at KRoberts@SouthingtonObserver.com