NORTH ADAMS -- The MCLA women's basketball team returns nine players for the 2012-13 season from last season's team that made a run to the MASCAC title game.
Two major contributors are gone, however.
The graduation of Jen Wehner and Alie Dobrovolc leave significant holes for the Trailblazers to fill. Dobrovolc was named to the All-MASCAC team last season. Wehner made an appearance on the All-MASCAC team all four seasons she was at MCLA. She was named the MASCAC player of the year for the 2010-11 season, and left MCLA as the all-time leading scorer and rebounder.
Filling the void will not be easy.
"Obviously, a little bit of hindrance for this team is going to be our rebounding skills," eighth-year coach Holly McGovern said. "We really will have to work extra hard on the defensive end of things, and really limit second-chance points."
McGovern thinks it will have to be a team effort to get the rebounding production it had over the past few seasons.
Lucy Tremblay returns as the team's top scorer. She averaged 14.6 points per game last year. The senior is 102 points shy of joining the 1000-point club at MCLA. She was named the MASCAC Rookie of the Year for the 2009-10 season.
Kaitlyn Chenevert and Sara Hamilton will be asked to take on bigger roles this season, also. Chenevert constantly took on the toughest defensive assignments for the Trailblazers last year, while Hamilton joined the team
"I think right now, we have a good core leadership group on this team with Lucy Tremblay, Kaitlyn Chenevert, and Jojo Miner," McGovern said. "We just have a great group of women right now, and they're all working really hard on the court."
MCLA will have to work well together on the court in order to improve on last season's defense, an area McGovern called "a weak point."
The Trailblazers open the season tonight at home against Daniel Webster at 5:30 p.m. It's the first of a 25-game schedule for MCLA, starting with 10 non-conference games. The trip to the title game last season was the program's second in three seasons -- winning the title in 2010.
"I think this group is going to have to work really well together to achieve what we want to go and achieve," McGovern said. "Of course, we have our scoring punch and our leaders that we can look too, but we're still looking to define some roles."
This year's version of the Trailblazers will feature several Berkshire County natives. Hamilton is from Dalton and is a graduate of Wahconah, while Kelsey Ouimet returns to the team. Ouimet is a North Adams resident and attended Drury. New to the team is former Hoosac Valley player Kathleen Nguyen.
McGovern feels as though the opener against Daniel Webster will be a good test for her team.
"We've always consummated our program as one that went day by day," she said. "Until we succeed on our goals for tomorrow we can't look ahead to next week from now. We just have to make sure we stay within ourselves and we'll be OK."
To reach Sam Monroe, email
On Twitter: @NAT_DigitalSam