Originally posted on MinuteManNewsCenter.com by Mary Albl
The girls’ basketball season ended for Fairfield Ludlowe March 1 in a second round loss to Trumbull in the Class LL state tournament.
But since then, a majority of the members have kept playing.
For Caroline Pangallo, Trish Auray, Caroline Yates and Meghan Curran they are in the midst of playing AAU basketball together. The four play for Connecticut Premier U15, which is coached by Notre-Dame of Fairfield head girls’ basketball coach Eric DeMarco.
“We all started in sixth grade and we’ve all been playing together for a while,” Pangallo said. “We’ve always been on the same team.”
Pangallo, Auray and Yates play for the 15 White squad, while Curran is on the Blue team.
DeMarco, who used to coach at Seymour, has been involved with AAU for more than 10 years. The group he coaches, along with Brian Cleveland and Heather Lee, is a mixed bag that draws from FCIAC schools like Ludlowe and Staples, and then Notre Dame, Lauralton Hall and some from Seymour.
It’s a diverse group that brings in a range of skill and high-talent to the court.
“You meet new people and it’s a lot of fun,” Yates said.
Individuals are selected through a tryout or as DeMarco explained, a lot of time coaches will see kids playing in high school games and recommend them that way.
The team practices twice a week at Notre Dame in Fairfield. DeMarco said the focus of the league, which started in April and runs till the end of July, is to improve skills, hone them and get a chance to play a lot of competitive basketball.
The squad, which has a tournament just about every weekend, will host one in Connecticut the first weekend in June.
“It’s really good competition,” Pangallo said. “We also play FCIAC teams as well. One team was like Trumbull and Danbury girls. It’s just fun to play against them and get prepared for the season.”
The girls also explained that having a new coach to learn from in the offseason has been an added benefit. DeMarco is coming off a season where he led the Lancers to the Class M state final game where they finished runner-up to Cromwell.
“I feel like my mental game has improved,” Auray said. “He’s really taught me not to take anything personally and to try and get better.”
DeMarco said with other AAU leagues in the state, talent is spread out, but if the program is run correctly, the growth happens.
“It’s nice when looking at box scores or playing against certain kids who were doing certain things but after coming through and playing, they have improved,” he said.
Warde head coach Dave Danko is also involved with Premier, as the co-director. He currently coaches the U16 teams, which feature Ludlowe players Pauline and Charlotte Blatt.
The team will be play in two big showcase tournaments this summer, one in Pennsylvania and another in Washington, D.C. which attract college coaches.
For the group from Ludlowe, the experience of playing year round is something they hope will pay dividends come this winter.
“Oh yeah she (Ludlowe head coach Sarah Huntington) loves that we’re playing,” Curran said with a smile.
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