Shelton High will have its work cut out, a tough schedule awaits, but expects to have solid defense back in the fold and an improved offense in place for another run at the playoffs.

Coach Joe Cavallaro’s Gaelettes are led by senior captains Mackenzie Joyce, Maggie Howard and Gigi Gamboian.

They also return juniors Reem Abdel Hack and Leya Vohra as starters, along with other key players in sophomores Kiera O’Connor and Clarissa Pierre.

Shelton graduated starter Kayla Resto along with Alicia Leonard from its squad which posted an 8-12 regular season mark before losing to eventual Class LL semifinalist Trumbull in the state tournament.

“Last year we played solid defense, but struggled on offense,” Cavallaro said. “We hope to improve there to reach our goal of making states for the fourth straight year. We have league favorite Hamden in our division, along with other tough teams on our schedule like Hillhouse, Guilford and Sheehan.

“We believe we have a solid work ethic and a good mixture of seniors and underclassmen.”

The Gaelettes scored over 50 points only twice last winter. But, remained competitive by allowing 50-plus points only five times, regularly holding teams in the 30s, 20s and occasionally even the teens.

Shelton has more height on the floor, and more depth on the roster.

The team started last season with no player over 5-foot-7.

“This year we will be stronger inside with Clarissa Pierre and Reem Abdel Hack both at 5-foot-11,” said Cavallaro, noting that Hack worked her way into the starting lineup in the second half of the season. “We are deeper, so we will be able to play more of a full-court game.”

With Vohra back at the point guard position, the Gaelettes stand to be more of a running team to utilize their depth.

“Maggie Howard led our team with thirty 3-pointers and will look to increase that total,” Cavallaro said. “We also have Gigi Gamboian as a three-point threat and Mackenzie Joyce has been the leader of our defense.

“We look to improve each game since our schedule —  in what is regarded as the best girls’ basketball league in the state — will help make us a stronger team when the postseason comes.”

The slate begins with a tough early test when Shelton visit Sheehan-Wallingford in the opener on Tuesday, Dec. 11, at 7 p.m.

After a Tuesday, Dec. 18, visit to Oxford at 6, the Gaelettes play their home opener when Cheshire comes to town on Friday, Dec. 21, for a 7 o’clock tipoff.

Shelton hosts East Hartford in the opener of its Holiday Tournament on Thursday, Dec. 27, at 7. It will play East Lyme or Bunnell to conclude the tourney two days later.