Last season came to an abrupt end for the area's high school girls basketball teams, as all local teams were eliminated from sectional play by their respective quarterfinal matchups.
Before sectionals even became a concern, eight local teams finished the 2011-12 season with losing records.
That's a result many teams are looking to correct as the season got under way last week and continues to start this week. Also for the second straight season, Gloversville will not field a varsity girls basketball team.
Broadalbin-Perth’s Kaitlin Wood (23) puts up a shot while being defended by Cobleskill-Richmondville’s Emily Tillapaugh during the fourth quarter of the Broadalbin-Perth Holiday Tournament on Dec. 27, 2011. (The Leader-Herald)
A one-year spike in enrollment sent the Johnstown Lady Bills up to Class A last season, where they fell to Mohonasen in the Section II quarterfinals. This year, they will drop back down to Class B and return most of the team that finished 11-8 and 8-4 in the Foothills Council.
While the Lady Bills have lost four players from last year's team, they return a core of seven players.
"We have a solid nucleus of returning players and some talented newcomers," Johnstown coach Tim Derwin said.
Derwin have a large roster as seven other players join the seven returning players. With a 14-player squad, Derwin expects to have some height around the basket and athletic players.
"We should be competitive in the Foothills," Derwin said.
The Broadalbin-Perth Lady Patriots struggled in the Foothills Council, only posting a 2-10 record during league play. However, outside their division, they had a great deal of success winning all six of their non-league games before entering the sectional tournament.
The Lady Patriots will return a bulk of their offense with senior Kaitlin Wood, who scored 15.6 points per game - which includes 36 3-point baskets, and grabbed 12.8 rebounds per game. Wood is 298 points from scoring her 1,000th point in her high-school career. Katie Herba, who scored 6 points per game and dished out five assists per game also is back.
"This team has shown a good attitude and is under good leadership with returning captains Kaitlin Wood and Katie Herba," Broadalbin-Perth coach Michael Magliocca said.
The Lady Patriots will open their season Monday at home against Middleburgh before playing another non-league game against Albany Leadership on Friday. They will open their league schedule Thursday against Queensbury. They will finish December by hosting a holiday tournament on Dec. 27 and 28.
"The strength of this team is the work ethic that these girls bring each day in pursuit of developing their skills and team," Magliocca said.
The Fort Plain Lady Hilltoppers recorded the best finish of any local team in the Western Athletic Conference last season, going 13-6 last season and finishing 11-1 in the WAC North, clinching the division championship. Fort Plain enters this season with a smaller team than last year - eight players - but return three players.
"Lack of depth may be an issue this year," second-year coach Phil Karker said.
Karker will welcome back first-team WAC North all-stars Abby Boyer and Haley Kilmartin, along with second-team WAC North all-star, senior Allehah Van Loan. Karker was expecting nine players on his roster this season but sophomore Vicky Dettmer suffered a knee injury during soccer season and will be unable to play this winter.
"She is a very versatile player on both ends of the floor," Karker said. "She will be sorely missed."
Senior Kayla Wilder and sophomore Bri Florian were added to the team as well.
"The team is very focused this season and has been practicing well," Karker said.
The Northville Lady Falcons are looking to fill big holes this season with the loss of Allison Wadsworth who was a first-team WAC North all-star and a sixth-team Class D all-state player. She averaged 15 points, 6 rebounds and 3 steals per game. Fourth-year coach David Bush also is looking to replace the 4 blocks and 6 rebounds per game that were provided by Madalyn Ryan.
Despite losing key players, Bush is optimistic about the 2012-13 season.
"Everybody will be looking to fill in the holes last year's seniors left," he said.
Lyndsey Wadsworth could fill one of those holes as she averaged 8 points and 4 rebounds per game last year. Also, senior Kelly VanNostrand averaged 6 points and three steals for Northville last season. The Lady Falcons also will return Mary Ryan, who averaged 4 steals per game last year.
The Lady Falcons opened the season Tuesday with a 41-25 win over Hadley-Luzerne. Wadsworth alone scored as many points (25) as the opposing team did. They will visit Canajoharie on Wednesday.
The Lady Cougars have new faces on the bench and on the court as longtime JV coach Joe Fowler takes over for Marie Stahler, who guided them to a 14-5 overall record last year and an 11-1 mark in the WAC North.
Despite losing Mackenzie Stahler and four other players, the Lady Cougars will return six players from last year's team and add five from the JV team.
"It's been going well," Fowler said. "I had all the girls on the team at JV at one point, so it's been a smooth transition."
The Lady Cougars opened the season Friday night and posted a 51-29 win over Dolgeville.
"We have a good group of returning girls," Fowler said. "We have some quickness. I'm looking forward to a good season."
There is nowhere to go but up for the Mayfield Lady Panthers, who suffered through a winless season last year and opted not to play in the sectional tournament.
In an attempt to improve and play more competitive basketball, many of the players participated in summer league and open gyms throughout the offseason.
"Our team is very excited about our season," third-year coach Brian Moore said. "Last season, we were very young and look to build off our experiences throughout the season."
Mayfield will be led by four returning seniors, Nicole Little, Jen Little, Killian Horney and Alexis Hime. The rest of the team is made up three juniors and two sophomores.
"We are very excited about the challenges ahead and look to be a very athletic group.
The St. Johnsville Lady Saints, who will be combined with Oppenheim-Ephratah this year under the St. Johnsville banner, will look to improve on last year's 7-12 record under fourth-year coach Stephanie Cleveland.
The Lady Saints will return their leading scorer from last year, Rylie Smith, who is only a sophomore. The only other returning starter from last year's team is Samantha Cleveland.
St. Johnsville entered sectional play, where they were eliminated in the Class C first round by Lake George. This year, the combined enrollment of the two districts is low enough to send the Lady Saints back to Class D.
The Fonda-Fultonville Lady Braves are still trying to find some secure footing after two seasons in the Colonial Council and 15th-year coach Wendi Waters is looking to put a more competitive team on the floor with the return of four starters, led by Emily Parslow, who led the team in scoring as a freshman with 10.3 points per game. She also led the team with 28 3-pointers and was the team leader in steals.
Also returning will be junior point guard Cassandra Egelston, who led in assists last year. Egelston runs the floor for the Lady Braves and leads the team's fast break. Senior forward Taylor Wetsky is expected to provide an inside presence as long as she can stay out of foul trouble. Senior guard Emily Frollo is returning from her second ACL surgery last spring. Waters said she is back to pre-injury form.
"We have a solid nucleus of five players returning this year with lots of experience," Waters said. "I am hoping we can be a much more competitive team this year night in and night out. I think this year's team will surprise some people."
The returning starter will mix with three newcomers, all up from the junior varsity team, forward Jeananna Warner, Victoria Subik and Shelby Wadsworth.
"One of our strengths this year will be our quickness," Waters said. "We are going to try to run the ball more and play uptempo. This group has a lot of potential. If we can develop good team chemistry and function as a team and stay that way all season, we have the opportunity to be successful."
The Amsterdam Lady Rams lost two starters from last year's team but returns six seniors that are on the varsity team for the last three seasons.
Despite losing Maria Lafond and Mo Pucci, Amsterdam returns senior guard Cristiana Johnson, who led the team with 31 3-pointers and averaged 7 points per game. The Lady Rams also will rely on senior point guard Ashlee McDonald to run the floor. She dished out 52 assists last year. Kelly Paris, who scored 5 points per game last year, also returns.
"The Lady Rams are very experienced this year," 12th-year coach Eric Duemler said.
The Dolgeville Lady Blue Devils, who play in the Section III Center State Conference have a new coach as former junior varsity coach Shane Morrill takes over for the retired Lee Quackenbush. Dolgeville returns only one starter from last year's 8-10 team, Teresa VanOlst.
"We lost four starters to graduation but look to replace them with girls that played significant roles last year," Morrill said.
Other returning players include Crystal Burton, Lyndsey Stohrer, Mary Reardon and Marissa Chavez. They will mix with six newcomers to the team.
"We look to be competitive in a tough league and hope our newcomers can add some depth," Morrill said. "We've had good attendance at our offseason program and hopefully that will show during our season."
To the north, Wells coach Dayna Fisher enters her 14th season and lost two key players to graduation - Desiree Gallup, who scored 10 points per game and grabbed five steals per game, and Macala Vrooman, who averaged 8 rebounds per game.
The Lady Indians also lost first-team all-star Karlie Tomlinson, who transferred to Broadalbin-Perth for her senior year.
Returning players Brittany Woodward, Bobbi Jo Page and Samantha Zemken will get starting nods this year, while newcomer Kaeli Brenan also will start.
The fifth position is between returner Chelsea Simon and newcomer Breanna Mayer.
Woodward and Page are two experienced seniors and will serve as captains. Fisher said she was concerned about the team's lack of height and the lack of varsity experience on the roster.
"A strong defense, staying injury free and a strong desire to work hard to improve as individuals as a team will be the keys to our success this season," Fisher said.