One new team, two new coaches and several new stars will produce a new era in the Colonial Council girls’ basketball league.
Albany Academy for Girls joins the league, making it a 10-team circuit. Academy for Girls coach Dan McGraw and Tom Maxwell, the new Cobleksill-Richmondville coach, bring fresh blood into the coaching ranks, and a handful of fresh faces will take over the spotlight from graduated standouts like Holy Names’ Jessica Walton, who is now at La Salle, Mechanicville’s Kelly Murphy and Lindsey
McKeever, Cohoes’ Courtney Galuski and Watervliet’s Page Colfer.
Holy Names, despite losing Walton, was chosen by most of the coaches as the team to beat. The team finished 14-8 overall last year.
“I think we’ll compete, but the league is very strong this year,” said Holy Names coach Steve Gigliello. “There are a number of good teams out there, but my expectations are that we’ll compete at a high level.”
Returning starters include point guard Fallon Witte and senior center Casey Spicer, who each averaged about eight points a game. Kendra McCoy is another senior guard, while Jackie Murphy leads a contingent of juniors. Kiera Moore is coming back from an ACL injury that kept her out last season, and Hannah Wilson is another key player.
At Cohoes, Meg Keeler finally gets her chance to shine. The Tigers lost several key players, including Galuski, who tied a national record for three-pointers in a game with 15 last January.
“We’ll go the way Meg Keeler goes,” said Cohoes coach
Dan Hytko, whose team finished 13-3 in the league and 19-5 overall. “She’s the kind of girl who played in the shadows of the other four starters on our team. She’s a five-year starter herself and has been a consistent player for us all these years. She’s paid her dues.”
Keeler averaged 8.5 points and 10 rebounds a game for the Tigers. She should get a lot more this year, when she’ll be joined by guard Maggie Maloney, forwards Shelby Gratton and Casey Kurzynski and sophomore point guard Bailey
Lansingburgh coach Mari Warner has six returning letter winners back, including junior Arianna Youngs and senior Chelsey Rehbun, a pair of double-figure scorers. Other players who should see significant playing time are Tina Johnston, Alex Glikes, Alexia Brown and Kia Higgins.
“We have a core of players coming back, and I would think we’d have to challenge for the top spot,” Warner said.
Voorheesville was just under .500 in the league and 10-13 overall last year, but coach Bob Baron has six players back, including leading scorer Casey Beccera, Sarah Goss and Kelly Glath.
“We’re hoping to improve upon last year,” said Baron. “Last year was the first step for us. We got to the semifinals in sectionals. This year, we’re trying to do better in the league and in the sectionals.”
Veteran area coach Maxwell takes over at Cobleskill-Richmondville and has four seniors to help the Bulldogs improve on last year’s 2-15, 5-15 record.
“I’ve coached for a long time, both for boys’ and girls’ programs,” said Maxwell, who has coached at Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons, Niskayuna, Mohonasen and for several AAU programs. “I’ve been coaching for 20 years, and I play a more upbeat transition game. I really like to push it. I bring a boys’ mentality to the girls’ game.”
Chelsey Jordan, who led the Bulldogs at 10 ppg, will spearhead a group that also includes Ali Brayton, Kayla Davis and Elizabeth Markley.
Schalmont was only 5-16 last year, but coach Ed Pendt has a lot of depth this season, led by returning starters Kelly Piotrowski, a Colonial Council all-star who scored 11 ppg, and point guard Gena Longo. The Sabres have eight returning letter winners overall.
“This is a year where I have 11 kids on the team, and we all play equally,” said Pendt. “We don’t have any size, but we’ll run, and we’ll tire teams out.”
Watervliet lost nearly everyone from the Cannoneers’ excellent 12-4, 18-8 campaign, but coach Gordie Johnson has a youth movement that could make his team dangerous in the second half.
“I think we’ll be OK by the time the second semester comes around,” said Johnson. “But we’re very young. Tierney McGlynn is my only starter back.”
Jen Gates, a reserve guard, also comes back, but Johnson is filling the rest of the starting lineup with youngsters off the JV.
That’s where Mechanicville coach Bob Murphy expects to be after losing seven seniors from last year’s 13-3, 18-4 club. Among those players were the coach’s daughter and McKeever, who were the Raiders’ top two scorers. Mechanicville also lost Andrea Mastropietro, the team’s second-leading rebounder, to injury.
“We’ve got Shannon McBride and Nicole Manupella back,” said Murphy. “Shannon is a good shooter who was our second-leading three-point shooter two years ago. Last year, she became a more all-around player who went to the basket more. Manupella is more of a slashing, penetrator.”
The Red Raiders’ seniors are Jill Young and Courtney Reed. “I’m hoping to finish in the middle of the pack, and at least finish .500,” said Murphy.
Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk finished 5-15 for coach Kylie Shortel, but the Indians knocked off Voorheesville and Lansingburgh in the sectionals last year, giving the team reason for optimism.
Guards Alivia Richter and Haley Richter, along with center Ashley McMullen and forward Carley Hack are the top veterans. Sophomore Teagan Waddingham will be the point guard.
“We’ll press and play up-tempo, because we’re not very big,” said Shortel.
The new kid on the block is
Albany Academy for Girls, which was 14-5 last year and competed in the Central Hudson Valley League.
“We’ll mix things up defensively and make teams prepare for us,” said McGraw, who doesn’t have a JV team. “We’ll need leadership from post player Jill Verde, swing player Amanda Cioffi and guard Kara Carman, but I’ve also got a 5-10 post player who is a freshman named Jvanay Santos, and we’re very excited about her. We’ve also got another guard named Shelby Benson, who will probably start.”
ALBANY ACADEMY FOR GIRLS
Coach: Dan McGraw.
Last year’s records: 8-5 Central Hudson Valley League, 14-5 overall.
Top returning players: Junior forward Jill Verde, junior guard/forward Kara Carman, junior guard Kara Carman.
Coach: Tom Maxwell.
Last year’s records: 2-15, 5-15.
Top returning players: Senior forward/center Kayla Davis, senior forward Chelsea Jordan, senior guard Ali Brayton, senior point guard Liz Markley.
Coach: Dan Hytko.
Last year’s records: 13-3, 19-5.
Top returning players: Senior forward Meg Keeler, junior guard Maggie Maloney, senior forward Shelby Gratton, senior forward Casey Kurzynski.
Coach: Steve Gigliello.
Last year’s records: 10-6, 14-8.
Top returning players: Senior point guard Fallon White, senior center Casey Spicer, senior guard Kendra McCoy.
Coach: Mari Warner.
Last year’s records: 9-7, 12-10.
Top returning players: Senior Chelsey Rehbun, senior Tina Johnston, senior Alex Glikes, senior Alexia Brown, senior Kia Higgins, junior Arianna Youngs.
Coach: Bob Murphy.
Last year’s records: 13-3, 18-4.
Top returning players: Junior Shannon McBride, junior Nicole Manupella, senior Jill Young, senior Courtney Reed.
Coach: Kylie Shortel.
Last year’s records: 3-12, 5-15.
Top returning players: Senior guard Alivia Richter, junior guard Haley Richter, senior center Ashley McMullen, senior guard Carley Hack, sophomore guard Teagan Waddingham..
Coach: Ed Pendt.
Last year’s records: 4-12, 5-16.
Top returning players: Senior forward Kelly Piotrowski, senior guard Gena Longo.
Coach: Bob Baron.
Last year’s records: 7-9, 10-13.
Top returning players: Senior guard Casey Beccera, senior forward Sarah Goss, senior guard Kelly Glath, junior point guard Britany Creed, junior forward Elizabeth Madden, junior forward Emily Norris.
Coach: Gordie Johnson.
Last year’s records: 12-4, 18-8.
Top returning players: Junior guard Tierney McGlynn, junior guard Jen Gates.