Girls hoop preview: Ridgefield could be among FCIAC's best

Sabrina Grizzaffi is among the many returning players for the Ridgefield girls basketball team. — Scott Mullin photo
Sabrina Grizzaffi is among the many returning players for the Ridgefield girls basketball team. — Scott Mullin photo

One sign of the Ridgefield High girls basketball team’s progression last winter came in its two contests against Fairfield Warde. In the second game of the regular season, the Tigers lost to Warde by 20 points. When the teams met again, in the conference quarterfinals, Warde needed a fourth-quarter surge to edge Ridgefield by five points.

“I’m hoping we can begin this year where we left off last season,” said Ridgefield head coach Tom DiMarzo. “We had such a young team last year that we were basically starting from scratch.”

With no seniors on the roster, the Tigers are still relatively young this season. But after losing just one player (power forward Caroline Curnal) to graduation, Ridgefield is also far more experienced.

“We may be a year away from being really, really special, but I think we can challenge for the FCIAC championship this season,” said DiMarzo, whose team opens the season tonight at home against Westhill. “We have some height and a bunch of good athletes. We’re going to be fun to watch.”

What Ridgefield won’t be is fun to play against.

“We should be pretty good defensively,” said DiMarzo. “We have some tough kids who love to get in your face. If you play good defense you always have a chance to win, even when you are struggling on offense.”

Juniors Kate Wagner and Megan Klosowski form one of the FCIAC’s top backcourts. Wagner, a the Tigers’ point guard, is a good shooter and passer who can break presses with her dribbling skills. Klosowski, the team’s shooting guard, can also hit from outside and is a dogged defender.

Up front, Ridgefield will feature a trio of sophomores — 5’8” forward Faith Arnold, 5’9” forward Katie Flynn and 6’0” center Kate Garson — all of whom contributed last season.

Supplying more height are 5”11” sophomore center Norah McNeece and 5’10” sophomore forward Laura Jennings

“We don’t have any 6’3” players, but we do have some decent size,” said DiMarzo. “And our big kids are also really good athletes.”

Juniors Cameron McClellan (small forward/shooting guard), Claire Tannian (shooting guard), Sabrina Grizzaffi (forward), and Bella Giordano (forward/center) all contributed last season, while sophomore guards Callie Steitzel, Rachel Tomasetti and Kelly Chittenden have moved up from the sub-varsity ranks.

“We want to run and push the pace on offense, and I think we have the type of players to do that,” said DiMarzo. “Our defense is going to dictate our offense.”

One sticking point for the Tigers could be the lack of a go-to player when points are needed during crunch time.

“We are more of an offense-by-committee team,” said DiMarzo. “But we do have some players who can get a big basket for us.”

Notes: Ridgefield went 14-8 last winter, losing to Warde in the FCIAC quarterfinals and Middletown in the opening round of the Class LL state tournament.

Curnal made the All-FCIAC first team last season. Wagner was chosen to the third team and Klosowski received honorable mention.