The McCann Tech girls’ basketball team returns several players from last season’s team that narrowly missed the postseason.
The Hornets will have a new -- but familiar face -- leading them this year. Girls’ soccer coach Mike Dowling takes over as the head coach this season and is familiar with his roster. Five of his varsity soccer players will be members of this year’s basketball team.
"We have a good bunch of girls out here," Dowling said. "We’re going to have to be patient and take our time this season."
Seniors Mary Nguyen, Xiomara Colon and Kennedy Valois return to the hardwood this year and are joined by seven juniors. Monique Martel will be the only freshman on the varsity team to start the season. Eileen Zajac, Alex Wood and Emijah Barton are three of the juniors returning from last year’s squad.
The Hornets will carry 11 players on the varsity roster after having 24 show up for tryouts this year. Just having that many players attend tryouts was a step in the right direction for the Hornets.
"We’re just trying to get the interest back up in the program and get it going in the right direction," Dowling said.
It’s a bit different than the soccer field, but Dowling is no stranger to coaching basketball. He coached youth and travel teams for 10 years before taking over at McCann. He says he tries to bring things from the soccer field into the gymnasium, but in general the strategies are still different.
"It’s still a big jump believe me," Dowling said. "But I am coming into a program where everyone wants to learn. All the girls are going out every day and trying their best."
Dowling said he saw that effort when the team attended a preseason jamboree at Hoosac Valley. He said the team played tough against a difficult Hoosac Valley team. It may have set the tone for the season as the team followed it up with a strong week of practice as they prepared for the season opener.
The Hornets opened the season against Holyoke Catholic and lost 33-29, but the team was happy with the first effort of the season.
Nguyen led the team with 19 points in the opener.
"It was a nice learning experience for the team," Dowling said. "We’ll try to get better as we go along this season."
The Hornets are back in action on Monday against Mount Greylock. It will be the teams only home of December. The Hornets won’t be back in North Adams until Jan. 8 when they get a rematch against Holyoke Catholic. They will play a difficult schedule this season that includes Granby, Belchertown, Putnam, Southwick, Monson, Hampshire and South Hadley. According to Dowling, all those teams will have a chance to contend in the Western Massachusetts tournament come February.