Sunday, January 16, 2022

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Castellano Starting at Point Guard as a Sophomore

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Gianna Castellano is starting at the point guard position for the East Haven girls’ basketball squad as a sophomore this season. Photo courtesy of Gianna Castellano

Gianna Castellano is starting at the point guard position for the East Haven girls’ basketball squad as a sophomore this season. (Photo courtesy of Gianna Castellano)

From the first time that she picked up a basketball, Gianna Castellano fell in love with the sport. After being introduced by her grandfather and brother, Gianna took her passion for hoops and worked hard to become the starting point guard for the East Haven girls’ basketball team as a sophomore this season.

Gianna’s first experience in the sport came as a 3rd-grader in East Haven’s Sal Tinari Biddy Basketball program. Gianna’s grandfather Robert first put the ball in her hands, and she was also inspired by watching her brother Michael, who played a year with the Yellowjackets, perform on the court. Gianna always looked up to her grandfather and brother, and that’s one of the biggest reasons why she wanted to give basketball a shot.

“I loved basketball more than all the other sports. Ever since my grandfather but a ball in my hands, I knew that I loved basketball. I really enjoyed watching my brother play, and it encouraged me to start playing,” says Gianna. “I’ve always looked up to my brother as an idol. I looked up to him for everything. My grandfather was always great at sports. He taught me everything I know. I’m grateful for that.”

After playing Biddy for a year, Gianna started competing on the travel basketball circuit in the 4th grade, after which she spent two years in the AAU ranks with Connecticut Basketball Academy. In 7th grade, Gianna started playing for St. Bernadette’s in New Haven. There was no girls’ team that season, and so Gianna competed for the boys’ team. At every step along the way, Gianna became a better athlete, while making great friendships with her teammates.

“I played a lot of basketball. I got a lot of great experience. I played a lot of AAU,” Gianna says. “It really just helped me a lot. I met a lot of great players.”

Gianna joined the Yellowjackets as a freshman, playing in every JV game and about half of the varsity games. That first season gave Gianna the experience she needed for when she became a full-time varsity starter.

“Last year, I saw varsity time, and it gave me a lot of experience. It gave me exposure to what I should expect this year,” says Gianna. “It gave me a perspective of what I needed to expect this year. I saw how everything was going to go. It was more fast-paced. My freshman year really prepared me for my sophomore year.”

All of that experience paid dividends for Gianna at the beginning of her sophomore season. Gianna was named East Haven’s starting varsity point guard and has started all three of the team’s games thus far.

No matter what team she was playing for, Gianna has always been a point guard. Gianna feels confident in her dribbling abilities and passing skills, along with her vision on the court. When she assists one of her teammates for a basket, Gianna gets the confidence and energy that she needs to finish out the game strong.

“I love playing point guard. I love directing all of my players, and I love making plays for my teammates. I love looking for my open teammates,” Gianna says. “I’m always looking for my teammates to make a good move and then dish it to them. I’m looking to move the ball for my team and do our best to score.”

This season, Gianna is playing for first-year Head Coach Mike Archambault, who took over for longtime coach Anthony Russell. Gianna believes that the Yellowjackets are in a good place, and she’s excited to see how good the team can be both this year and in the coming campaigns.

“I believe this year we’ll have a successful season. Coach Russell left the program in good hands,” says Gianna. “We really trust each other on and off the court. We don’t get down on ourselves, and we don’t give up. We’re very hardworking and determined. The coaches push us every day to be the very best we could be. I think we’re a very talented group of girls, and I think we could win a championship.”

Along with basketball, Gianna also started playing soccer when she was in 3rd grade. During the 2020 fall season, Gianna started every game for the East Haven girls’ soccer squad as a sophomore.

Whether it’s basketball or soccer, Gianna is always proud to put on a jersey that reads East Haven across the front. Gianna feels honored to represent her hometown and appreciates all of the bonds that she’s formed with her fellow Yellowjackets.

“It’s an honor to wear East Haven on my jersey every day. I really take pride in it,” Gianna says. “I love this team. We have a really good group of girls, and we have great coaches. I’m really excited for the next couple of years for this team.”


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