The Warwick Vets girls’ basketball team won’t look wildly different personnel-wise this season, but the hope is that the ’Canes’ record looks at least a little bit different than it has in the past.
Vets has played well in spurts but struggled getting over the hump the past three years in Division II, winning no more than four league games each season. Last year, it went 3-13 in D-II-Central.
With this season set to start, the ’Canes have a veteran group leading the way. Ten of the players have been in the program previously, with five of them holding varsity experience.
“It’s been going extremely well in the first week of practice,” Vets head coach Owen Paquet said. “Girls are stepping right back into where they left off last year. We’re working on a lot of speed and quickness this year.”
Vets graduated Kristen and Katie Gregory, both of whom played down low for the team the past few years, although Kristen missed all of last season with an injury.
Those are the biggest graduation losses, as many of the key pieces are back with the team for another year, most notably senior Casey Bennett.
A guard, Bennett has been the team’s leading scorer the past two seasons. She was second-team all-division last year, and should be able build off that and set the tone for the team.
“She’s the type of player where whatever she does she’s going to increase her skill and improvement,” Paquet said. “Already I can see a lot of shots she would have taken, and this year I see her passing the basketball already. Instead of throwing up a crazy shot, she would be getting an assist this year.”
The ’Canes have five other seniors on the team – twins Emily and Lauren Almonte, Ricki Beaufort, Jenna Fontaine and Tara Fernandes.
The Almontes, in particular, should be big assets, and they’re serving as captains along with Bennett.
“Lauren will control the backboards and be more of a hard-nosed, defensive player,” Paquet said. “I see Emily stepping into that second high scorer situation. She’s more of an offensive player where she can drive to the basket.”
Vets has three juniors who are moving up to varsity this season after playing junior varsity a year ago, and Paquet expects them to make immediate contributions. They are Liz Iadevaia, Abbie Paul and Frankie Medeiros.
Junior Kaitlyn Rhodes is also with the team after playing her freshman year and then missing last season due to injury.
That gives Vets 10 experienced players, and Paquet is going to tailor the team’s style to their strengths. While not overly big, the ’Canes can move and will try to be up-tempo.
“Our biggest plus this year will be our quickness,” he said. “We’re definitely planning on pushing the ball as much as possible.”
The 11th player on the varsity roster is freshman Katherine Raposo
“She will add some ball-handling skills and she sees the court really well,” Paquet said.
Vets still has some time before the regular season starts to fine-tune some things, as it won’t play a league game until Dec. 20. It has an Injury Fund game against Toll Gate on Thursday on the road at 5 p.m., then has a non-league game at Central on Monday followed by another non-league game on Wednesday at home against West Warwick.
Then the season starts, as Vets hosts St. Raphael Friday, Dec. 20 at 7 p.m.
The ’Canes are looking for results.
“Warwick Vets has always strived to make the playoffs, and it’s always a goal to win every single game,” Paquet said. “As long as we’re progressing as individuals and as a team as a whole, I think it will be a successful season.”