FAIRFIELD, Conn. – Basketball coaches would love to have the problem Eric DeMarco faces with the Notre Dame of Fairfield girls team. The Lancers (5-0) have an arsenal that is deep and productive, fueling the team’s best start since the 2007-08 season.
“It’s a good problem to have,’’ DeMarco said about the team’s depth after a 54-36 win over Joel Barlow last week. “I think that on different nights, kids have stolen minutes from each other. When a player gets a hot hand, they might take three or four minutes that somebody else had. When they watch that, they know they have a chance to steal minutes. Kids are collectively pulling each other.”
Notre Dame has not been challenged yet this season. The Lancers’ average margin of victory is 27.4, and they are the top-ranked team in Class M.
The seeds for this year’s team were planted last year, when Notre Dame reeled off a five-game winning streak late in the season, lost a two-point game to Masuk in the league playoffs and won a game in the Class M tournament. Notre Dame finished 13-10.
That success carried over into this season. The team's win over Barlow might have been its most impressive. The Falcons have four players back from a team that won 15 games last year, and Notre Dame beat them decisively. The Lancers took control with a 22-0 run in the first 5:34 of the second quarter.
“I think we lifted our intensity as high as I’ve seen it this season,’’ DeMarco said. “We just got out and ran, got some turnovers. We were able to establish some momentum. It may have been the best stretch we’ve played in several years here.”
Jovan Kingwood led the way with 18 points, while Amber James had 13. Aly Furgiuele had six rebounds. Briana Mann added 10 points.
“On any given night, we’ve played nine or 10 kids who have been able to do something positive,’’ DeMarco said. “In basketball, that’s unusual. In practice, even if something is not going perfect, they’re all pushing each other. I think that’s helping us.”
Notre Dame meets Bolton on Thursday in the first round of the Notre Dame Appalachia Christmas Tournament, and will play in the championship or consolation game on Saturday. “We’ve never won that tournament, so that’s a goal for us,’’ DeMarco said.
A better indication of how the Lancers stack up might come next week in games against Kolbe-Cathedral (2-1) and Lauralton Hall (3-0), two teams expected to be in the South-West Conference playoff race. DeMarco was an assistant on two teams at Farmington that won state championships, and guided Seymour to the state finals in 2000. He knows his team can make a big run this year.
“I think we have a lot of potential for growth,’’ DeMarco said. “I told them it’s good that you have potential. You either live up to it or you don’t. It pushes you to keep improving.”
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