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Youthful Senators Stopped by Staples

NORWALK, Conn. – Brien McMahon High School girls basketball coach Mark McElveen has been handed the keys to a brilliant car to race with some of the best teams in the Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference. Unfortunately for McElveen and the Senators, it’s going to time to assemble the unit into a finely tuned machine.

Staples outran the Senators, 62-29, on Wednesday night in Westport in the opening game for both teams. Erica Stein scored a career high 23 points for the Wreckers.

McMahon’s starting unit consisted of three freshmen, a sophomore and one senior. The Senators’ young girls were playing their first game in one of the toughest gyms in the conference, and McElveen knows his inexperienced squad will have growing pains.

“I’m pleased with the way they played for their first game,’’ he said. “We came out on first but it takes 32 minutes, not eight. I think they got an idea of how hard they have to play. Starting the season in Staples is no easy task.”

Kayla Croswelle and Natalie Leslie scored six points apiece for the Senators, and Aleigh Fitzpatrick added four. Senior Karly Barreno was the only senior in McMahon’s starting lineup.

Croswelle, a lightning-quick point guard, helped the Senators take an early 6-2 lead. The Wreckers responded to go up, 16-10, after the first quarter, and Stein shot the lights out for Staples in the second quarter. She scored 11 points and nailed three three-pointers as the Wreckers used a late 10-4 run to take a 34-21 lead into the break.

Staples used a 12-0 run to start the second half to pull away for good. McMahon was hampered by a ton of turnovers, not surprising given the team’s inexperience and its opponent, a perennial league contender.

“They struggled a little with the press, but I don’t think they struggled on offense as much as I thought they would,’’ McElveen said. “I thought we played OK on the defensive end. Even some of our older girls have to learn how hard they have to play to compete at this level.”

It will take a while before McElveen sees results. Once his engine is fully assembled, the rest of the league had better watch out. “It’s promising,’’ McElveen said. “I’m pleased with how they’re playing for now.”

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