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Staples, Stein Shoot Down McMahon in Hoop Opener

WESTPORT, Conn. – The Staples High girls basketball team has been a perennial conference playoff contender under veteran coach Ed Huydic. With the inside game of Jess Coelho and the outside shooting of Erica Stein, the Wreckers will be strong contenders again when the Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference hands out hardware in February.

Stein, a junior guard, scored a career high 23 points Wednesday night as the Wreckers opened the season with a 62-29 victory over Brien McMahon High School. Coelho, a senior center with deft feet and a soft touch, added 13 as Staples cruised.

“In the ideal world, any coach would want an inside and outside game,’’ Huydic said. “I thought everybody gave quality time tonight. I really liked the flow of the game. We had some good quality runs to sustain the team. Give kudos to those two, they really set the tone.”

Stein took control for the quarter. After taking a 16-10 lead at the end of the first quarter, the Senators were still within seven, 24-17, with just more than two minutes to play until halftime. Stein’s three-pointer put the Wreckers up 27-17, and it ignited a 10-4 run to close the half. She scored five points in the run, including her third three-pointer of the period, and scored 11 point in the second quarter.

“Hitting from outside was my role last year and I’m just looking to improve on it,’’ Stein said. “So far in practice, that’s what we’ve been working on. That’s what we hope to do.”

Staples’ lead never got under double-digits in the second half, as the Wreckers opened with a 12-0 run to start the third quarter.

Stein and Coelho give Staples its primary punch, but there are others who can score, too. Syd Houseworth added 10 points, and Nikki Bukovsky tossed in eight. Four other players scored. Add in a Staples defense known for giving opponents fits and you have the makings of a team that can compete with the league’s upper echelon.

“It’s a good team in a powerful league,’’ Huydic said. ”That’s the god’s honest truth. I like this team. I like the chemistry. I like the balance that we have. But it’s a strong, senior-laden league.”

Stein likes the components of her team, too, and hopes the Wreckers can make an extended postseason run. “I think we can make the league tournament again,’’ said Stein, who was Staples’ leading scorer last year and one of the league’s top three-point threats. “Hopefully we can go to states again for Coach Huydic.”

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