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Sunday, April 22 Sports

Fairfield Ludlowe girls basketball preview

Year-to-year improvement has followed coach Sarah Huntington, who begins her fourth year with the Falcons' girls basketball team this winter. But one of the main assets she was expecting to coach on the floor will instead by supporting her efforts on the sidelines.

Senior Jane Hooper, who started for Fairfield Ludlowe as a freshman when Huntington inherited a 5-14 team in her first year, will be unable to play because of a career-ending concussion. "Her knowledge of the game will be a tremendous asset on the sidelines for us," Huntington said.

Pauline Blatt, a top rebounder despite being 5-foot-9 inches tall, returns to the starting lineup. Blatt, who also started as a freshman in 2010-11, was second team All-FCIAC a year ago and has been named captain. Huntington is expecting big contributions from seniors Sara Grabowski and Julia vonEhr. Grabowski will play up front where she can take advantage of her passing ability, and vonEhr, a guard, will draw the assignment of covering the opposition's top player.

Expected to be high in the rotation off the bench are junior forward Charlotte Blatt, who is effective inside and outside; junior guard Caroline Pangallo; sophomore guard Regan Steed; and 5-11 sophomore center Alex McKinnon. Juniors Trish Auray, Carey Yates and Meg Curran will supply depth at guard. Continued development from guard Sullie Desmond, a sophomore, and Anna Lee as well as from ninth-graders Peyton Brown and Jordan Serlin could lead this group to some varsity minutes, too.

"We will rely on our defensive intensity and we've been working on the mental attitude to be a strong and relentless defensive force," Huntington said.

In Huntington's first year at Ludlowe, the Falcons improved their record by a half-game. In her second year, Ludlowe went from 5-15 (in 2010-11) to 8-13 where the team lost in the CIAC Class LL tournament's first round as the No. 31 seed. Last year, the Falcons advanced with a 12-10 final record after earning the No. 19 seed then being eliminated in the second round of the LL tournament by Trumbull.

Game one was Wednesday at St. Joseph, followed by a game at New Canaan on Friday at 7 p.m.