Shelton girls basketball coach Danielski's familiarity with players makes coaching change seamless

SHELTON - John Danielski stepped in on short notice to take the Shelton girls basketball coaching reins from Joe Cavallaro, but said the transition was easier than one might expect.

“Emily Bodyk and Alicia Fernandez are my assistant coaches, and Emily assisted Joe last season,” said Danielski, who was Brian Gardiner’s assistant with the boys’ team from 2014-16. “Plus, I’ve spoken with Joe (who stepped down because of COVID-19 concerns).”

Danielski coached this year’s group of freshman and sophomores from his post as coach at Shelton Intermediate school, where he teaches in the special education program. He knows the players in the upper classes because he coached them in track at SIS.

“I am lucky to have a long standing connection with the girls. I attended games for the last few years, so the roster isn’t a surprise to me,” Danielski said.

Shelton put together a 19-win season in 2020.

“We have a lot of seniors coming back and our captains, Keira O’Connor, Clarissa Pierre and Devan Wildman, have been awesome,” Danielski said. “Unfortunately, we lost Devan to a torn ACL she suffered in soccer. She is still here every day being a captain and supporting the team. Not having her play is a big loss.”

O’Connor has started every game since her sophomore year. Pierre was All-SCC as a junior.

Asia Askew, Emily Sandin, Alexis Resto, Julia Kost and Kaylee Gura are all in the rotation.

Shelton also has two somewhat new additions to the program.

“Sophia Alkaul missed her sophomore year here with a knee injury, and we are happy to have her back,” Danielski said. “Laryssa Guimaraes transferred in (from Notre Dame of Fairfield). She didn’t play last year as a sophomore because she tore her ACL two years ago. She is the same height (5-foot-11) as Clarissa and that gives us size up front.”

Shelton scrimmaged Law on Saturday.

“I think the scrimmage showed areas we need to work on, but the girls have been practicing hard and conditioning hard, so I think we’re getting there,” Danielski said. “They set up a mask break midway through every quarter, and I’m trying to utilize that time to get starters out to give them a break. Law won the first half; we won the second half. They had couple shooters that hit a couple 3’s. We do see them the fifth game of the year and I think we are evenly matched.”

Shelton opens with Sacred Heart Academy. It will host Foran on Friday and Hillhouse on Tuesday.

Danielski said: “It’s a 12-game season and every day they have been improving. I’m happy where we are right now. We are looking for eight players, nine possibly, to rotate into the game. The girls come to practice each day and give a full effort. We will look to push the ball up the court.”

william.bloxsom@hearstmediact.com Twitter: @blox354