FAIRFIELD, Conn. – The Notre Dame of Fairfield girls basketball team improved immediately last winter when Jovan Kingwood joined the team. This winter, the senior has helped the Lancers get off to their best start in five years.
Kingwood was named The Fairfield Daily Voice Athlete of the Month after leading Notre Dame to a 7-0 record in December and the championship in the Appalachian Christmas Tournament. Kingwood was named tournament MVP after scoring 18 points and grabbing seven rebounds in a 51-41 win over Mansfield, Mass., in the championship game.
Kingwood, a senior, joined Notre Dame last December after beginning the school year at Trinity Catholic in Stamford. After going 2-3 in December, the Lancers turned it around and improved to 11-7 after Jan. 1. The Lancers ripped five straight wins in February and made noise in the state tournament with a first-round upset of Classical Magnet before losing to eventual runner-up Tolland.
The momentum carried into this season for Notre Dame. Kingwood was a big part of it, averaging 14 points, eight rebounds, four assists and two steals.
“When I first joined the team, I didn’t think we’d build into what we are now,’’ she said. “After we lost in states last year, everybody was so upset. We knew we had to come back hungrier. I think some girls took it as a joke last year. Everybody came back serious this year and was ready to work.”
Kingwood, a Norwalk resident, sat out most of December 2011 after transferring from Trinity. “I felt like I couldn’t be myself there, on and off the court,’’ she said. “I knew I could average more points, assists and rebounds. At Trinity, they had their main player. At Notre Dame, it’s a team game. Nobody cares who scores as long as we win.”
Kingwood’s emergence helped to turn Notre Dame into a title-contender in the South-West Conference.
"Jovan has added an aggressive presence to our team,’’ coach Eric DeMarco said. “She puts in a lot of time during the off season and it is good to see her efforts being rewarded with success this high school season.”
Kingwood’s father, Tyrone, played basketball at Cleveland State and was on a famous team that upset heavily favored Indiana in the first round of the 1986 NCAA Tournament. He was also a No. 1 draft pick in baseball by the Montreal Expos.
His daughter is now the one standing in the limelight, and she believes the Lancers can go a long way. They are ranked third in Class M in the latest state rankings. “We can win it all this year,’’ she said. “We just have to stay hungry.”