By Steve Rogers
WESTPORT — By now the Westport High School girls’ basketball team has a good feel as to how it will fare this season without Kayla Kirby.
Results of the first three non-league games and initial league contest Tuesday against Bishop Connolly aside, the Wildcats should know how they’ll play without last year’s captain and statistical leader in five different categories.
“We lost only one player,” Westport coach Glenn Lincoln said. “However, Kayla Kirby was the focal point of our offense and defense.”
Kirby, a center, had team-high totals in points-per-game (10.5), points (251), field goals (89), rebounds (206) and free throw percentage (60, 73-for-122). There were other players close to Kirby in those categories, but this year the Wildcats have just 10 players in the program, forcing them to cancel a junior varsity season for the second straight year.
“Last year we went through growing pains because of our loss of seven players and our lack of a JV program,” said Lincoln. “All that hard work will help us this year as we return four starters and four contributors off the bench.”
Versatile Layla Moran is this year’s captain. Last year she was the point guard, shooting guard, power forward, shooting forward and center. She also averaged 7.8 points-per-game, shot 59 percent from the charity stripe and had 34 assists.
“She played all five positions last year due to injuries, numbers and her skill set,” said Lincoln. “She will be the three (shooting forward) on offense and either the three, four or five (shooting forward, power forward or center) on defense when not helping to bring up the ball.”
Injuries affected the positions of most every player last season. It also gave each athlete the chance to become accustomed to playing another spot. Senior guard Alyssa Kochman, who led the team with 40 assists, and sophomore guard Brittany Arruda, who was third in scoring (9.2 points-per-game), will again return to backcourt spots.
“Alyssa and Brittany will share the shooting and point guard positions,” Lincoln said. “They both had plenty of practice at each spot because of injuries and concussions.”
One year out of middle school, Sam Medeiros had a fine season on the varsity squad. She scored 227 points (9.5 per-game), shot 58 percent from the free throw line and grabbed 184 rebounds, including 75 offensive boards, second only to Kirby.
“Sam Medeiros will hold down the power forward slot after her freshman year success,” Lincoln said.
Morgan Levesque filled in for Kirby and others under the basket last season and will be the starting center. Senior Kristin Duarte, juniors Nicole Raposo and Allison Abgrab and Reaghan Tripp round out the squad.
“Senior Morgan Levesque looks to fill the five hole after her play off the bench last year giving her time at the position,” Lincoln said. “Kristin Duarte will fill in at the three and four. Nicole Raposo and Allison Abgrab add depth and experience at the four and five. Freshman Reaghan Tripp will see time at the four and three spots as she gets the experience and learns the system.”
Based on experience alone, the Wildcats, who finished 16-8 overall last season, figure to be back in the thick of the Mayflower League title hunt again this year. However, a few other squads, including defending champ Blue Hills, also remain well stocked with athletes.
“Our league from one to eight will be returning a number of good players,” said Lincoln. “They will all make our league competitive and with Blue Hills returning four starters, the championship must go through them.
“Our goals for the season are to win the league championship, make it to states, win the South Sectional and finally the states.”
Westport hosts rival Diman Regional Vocational Friday, Dec. 14, at 5 p.m.