FALL RIVER — The start of the winter season means it’s almost tip-off time at center court.
Six Fall River area girls basketball teams — Atlantis Charter, Case, Diman, Durfee, Somerset Berkley and Westport — are gearing up for a brand, new season with the hopes of making a deep run in the state tournament.
The Wildcats and Cardinals aim to duplicate the feat from last year while the Tritons, Bengals, Hilltoppers and Raiders look to make a statement.
Here’s a look at the previews for Herald News girls basketball teams:
Atlantis Charter Tritons
Head coach: Chandler Peltier, second season
Last year’s record: 2-12
League: Independent League
Returning starters: Julia Ribon, C; Luna Campos, G; Yani Rodriguez, G-F; Jaliyah Belisle, G-F
Outlook: The Tritons are looking to better their record from a season ago. Atlantis Charter head coach Chandler Peltier said his team has a great attitude about the upcoming year. “This year we only have five returning players from last year,” he said. “I think we will end up winning more games than last season.” Peltier said Falmouth, Bristol Aggie, and Sturgis East are teams to watch his division. The Tritons will lean on center Julia Ribon for leadership and presence on the court. Luna Campos is a terrific ball handler and confident dribbler. Yani Rodriguez plays great defense with her scrappy play. Jaliyah Belisle is a confident player, works hard, and shoots well.
Head coach: Ellie Roberts, first season
Last year’s record: 16-6. Lost in the Division 4 Round of 16 game against Mashpee.
League: South Coast Conference
Returning players: Liberty Gazaille, F-C; Emma Plante, F-C
Newcomers: Lily Picard, G; Brooke Perron, G-F; Kylie Cabral, G
Outlook: The Cardinals’ player personnel is much different than previous years. Case will even have a new coach on the sidelines as well. “I want to thank Coach [David] Silva for building such a solid platform for this program to grow,” said first-year head coach Ellie Roberts. “We have over 10 freshman in our program this season and I’m looking forward to year one as head coach.” Roberts’ top players from last season — Liberty Gazaille and Emma Plante — are back. Gazaille is coming off of a league all-star season last year and brings leadership and accountability to the floor. Plante returns after a stellar season as a freshman. Senior Lily Picard is playing her first varsity season and is a solid ball handler. Kylie Cabral is a freshman coming up from the JV level and provides versatility in the guard spot. “We’re a young program made up of primarily underclassmen,” Roberts said. “Our goal is to compete each day with each other and any team on the floor with us.”
Head coach: Shane Doyle, 14th season
Last year’s record: 15-6. Lost in the Division 3 preliminary round against Advanced Math & Science
League: Mayflower Athletic Conference Large
Returning players: Elizabeth Kinnane, G-F; Cindy Bui, G-F; Evey Fernandes, F; Savanna Rodrigues, G-F; Courtney Boies, F
Outlook: The Bengals will need to step up after losing two of their top scorers — Hannah Martin and Avery Rounds — from last winter. Rounds was named the league’s player of the year. Head coach Shane Doyle said his squad will need to focus on a defense-first mentality in order to create offense and keep the score close. Leading the way for Diman is senior Elizabeth Kinnane, who will run the point. Senior Cindy Bui will return as a primary scoring option for the Bengals. Evey Fernandes bring a presence inside while fighting for rebounds. Senior Savanna Rodrigues will provide a spark with outside shooting. Senior Boies looks to be a major defensive presence underneath the basket. Diman will be keeping with the likes of Bristol-Plymouth and Blue Hills in league play.
Head coach: Jeff Caron, fourth season
Last year’s record: 16-6. Lost in the Division 1 Round of 16 game against Bridgewater-Raynham
League: Southeast Conference
Returning players: Mya Hayes Paulette, C; Julia Hargraves, G; Maggie O’Connell, F; Maddie Hargraves, G-F
Newcomers: Seniors Julianna Sousa, Alex Lapointe, Evangeline Sousa, Camryn Letendre and sophomore Avery Layne
Outlook: The Hilltoppers are looking to build on last winter’s success, which includes their first playoff win since 2015. Durfee returns three starters and has nine seniors on the roster, many with little to no varsity experience. “They been involved in the program so [they’ll] be ready to step in,” head coach Jeff Caron said. Caron returns a trio of three-year starters — Mya Hayes Paulette, Julia Hargraves and Maggie O’Connell. Sophomore sensation Maddie Hargraves came on strong at the end of last season. Seniors Julianna Sousa, Alex Lapointe, Evangeline Sousa and Camryn Letendre will provide relief off the bench. Sophomore Avery Layne is competing for playing time. Caron said Bridgewater-Raynham, Dartmouth and Brockton will be tough opponents in their league. “I hope we can play well enough to be included in that list,” Caron said. “We have a tough schedule but we hope to be in every game and get better each day.
Somerset Berkley Raiders
Head coach: Jeff LePage, over 20 years
Last year’s record: 12-9. Lost in the Division 2 preliminary round against Holliston.
League: South Coast Conference
Returning players: Mia Gentile, SG; Audrey Sperling, PG; Anya Kanalski, C; Karlie Cosme, G-F; Mikayla Seymour, G-F; Julianna Nasiff, G-F; Bethany Moniz, Makenzie Pires, Skler Rivers and Julia Moreira
Newcomers: Hannah Carpenter, G-F
Outlook: The Raiders return seven senior players from last season’s playoff team. Longtime head coach Jeff LePage said his team should be in the running for league title again. “We should be very competitive and return all but one player from last season’s Large School Division SCC championship,” LePage said. One of SBR’s exciting players is senior shooting guard captain Mia Gentile, who led the Raiders in scoring last winter. Senior point guard Audrey Sperling is an excellent decision maker on the court. Senior center and captain Anya Kanalski is a hard worker. Karlie Cosme is SBR’s best defender and has an uncanny ability to rebound. Mikayla Seymour and Julianna Nasiff are versatile players, who can play both the guard and forward positions. Bethany Moniz and sophomores Brooke Fisher, Makenzie Pires, Skler Rivers and Julia Moreira are solid players off the bench. LePage said his club should compete with Bourne and Apponequet for the league title.
Head coach: Jen Gargiulo, fourth season
Last year’s record: 18-5. Lost in the Division 5 Elite Eight contest against Sutton.
League: Mayflower Athletic Conference Comprehensive
Returning players: Korynne Holden, G; Sarah Perry, F; Julia George, G; Megan Molly, F; Jenna Egbe, C
Newcomers: Kylie Hazel, Skylar Rezendes
Outlook: The Wildcats enjoyed a magical season last winter, advancing to the Elite 8 for the first time since since the 2019 season. Westport head coach Jen Gargiulo lost 1,000-point scorer Leah Sylvain to graduation but returns a good mix of returning starters and new players. One of Gargiulo most dynamic players is Korynne Holden, who is back for her final season. Another standout player is senior Sarah Perry, who contributed immensely to the success of the team. Senior Megan Molly is a great team player who knows how to collaborate and create opportunities for their teammates. Juniors Julia George and Jenna Egbe should play a bigger role in the lineup for Gargiulo’s group too. Some of the Wildcats toughest opponents this season include Case, Bishop Stang and Southeastern. “These group of girls motivate and inspire their teammates, leading by example with their work ethic and dedication,” Gargiulo said. “In critical moments, they remain composed and showcase a calm demeanor, a quality that sets them apart. We have a group of newcomers [too] looking to make an impact this year.”
Herald News and Taunton Daily Gazette sports editor Steven Sanchez can be reached at email@example.com. You can follow him on X (formerly known as Twitter) at @Chezsports.