The Spartans have no intent to let their 2011-2012 campaign go quietly at regular season's end.

Coach John Spear's Shepaug Valley High School girls' basketball squad maintains its aspirations of playing in the Berkshire League tournament, and the CIAC's state class `S' tournament.

And not just play in the events, said coach Spear this week, but do their best to make an impact.

"We can compete with anyone in the Berkshire League," explained coach Spear, an opinion seemingly supported by the Spartans' strong performances against the league's best this winter.

"We feel like we could win the tournament if we score enough," he added, referring to the girls' lack of scoring punch to date. "The league is so balanced and there are so many close games every night that any one of the top six teams could be in the final."

The Spartans owned a 7-7 record through Friday's 39-25 loss at Wamogo.

For much of the winter, the girls have ridden a rollercoaster ride of wins and losses.

"Down the home stretch," said coach Spear, "we are looking to string a few wins together and finish over .500."

Shepaug was set Tuesday to host Gilbert and will welcome Nonnewaug to town today (Friday) for a 7 p.m. opening tip.

"We are focusing on our offensive execution as we usually need to run a set play to get an open look," said coach Spear. "We are hoping Brittany Hartman can manufacture some open shots off the dribble or get in the lane and create for others.

"In order to win a few games in the postseason, we are trying to continue to play defense and rebound like we have all season," he added, "but limit our turnovers and start to shoot a higher percentage from the floor."

Especially impressive during the past few weeks has been the rebounding performance of Jenni Isaac, who averaged 14.5 per game over a five-game stretch.

However, finding points is the key.

"We are trying to find a consistent second scoring option behind Melinda Fragomeli, " remarked coach Spear, "who is the third leading scorer in the league... several players have stepped up on different nights but no one has been able to consistently provide seven or eight points a night."

Coach Spear is optimistic this group of players can get the job done.

"They do not need much outside motivation from the coaching staff," he praised. "They always push each other in practice and have an excellent intensity level from the opening tip of any game.

"The girls also want to play a state tournament game at home," he noted, "which would require, at minimum, an 11-9 record or 12-8 if we could pull an upset."

If that were to happen, future rivals should be wary of the Region 12 quintet.

"We are working hard every day in practice to improve on our weaknesses," concluded coach Spear, "and make a deep run into March."

--Norm Cummings

Photography by Norm Cummings