The Hampden Academy girls basketball team will have a new look this season.
Bangor Daily News All-Maine second-team selection Bailey Donovan — a dominating 6-foot-3 center who averaged 19 points, 15 rebounds and three blocked shots — has taken her talents to Husson University.
She will be missed, but third-year Broncos coach Nick Winchester is excited about his team, which will be gunning for a third straight Class A North title.
High school basketball practices officially started on Monday across Maine.
“We’re going to be a radically different team this year,” Winchester said. “Last year, we basically put a stake in the ground and planted around it. Our offensive focus was to go inside first [to Donovan]. We played the game inside-out.”
This year, Hampden Academy will be playing a different style and won’t be relying as heavily on a single player to carry the load.
“This year we will spread the floor, play fast, and get up and down the court. We will be aggressive,” Winchester said, pointing to the Broncos’ depth.
“We will be able to play nine kids. We will be hard to guard because opposing teams won’t be able to focus on just one kid,” he said.
The Broncos finished 17-5 last season and stunned previously undefeated Skowhegan 32-28 in the Class B North title game in Augusta after spotting the Indians a 10-0 lead.
Greely of Cumberland Center beat Hampden Academy in the state final (54-42) for the second straight year.
The Broncos return six of their top eight players including senior starters Alydia Brillant, Sydney Hodgdon and Amelia McLaughlin, and their three most experienced reserves in senior Bella Soucy, junior Megan Deans and sophomore Camryn Neal.
Winchester said making up for Donovan’s production will be more of a collective effort that will enable any given player to assert herself in a particular game.
“Now they will have to step up and take ownership, and I’m looking forward to seeing who will embrace it,” Winchester said.
He expects his team to be able to match up against anyone in a player-to-player defensive alignment thanks to their length and athleticism.
“This group is going to be fun to watch and fun to coach,” Winchester said. “We have a really talented senior class.
“They will have the [rare] opportunity to go to three state finals, and that should be motivation enough for them. They have the potential [to do so].”
Hampden Academy opens its season Dec. 6 at Skowhegan.
Elsewhere in the North, Southern Aroostook has its sights set on a third consecutive state Class D championship and returns all but four players off last year’s team that beat Greenville 55-30 in the state title game.
Penobscot Valley of Howland graduated two players off its Class C North championship team that lost to Boothbay Region 33-25 in the state game.
Oxford Hills of South Paris also lost only two players off its Class AA state championship team, so it will be a favorite to annex a second straight crown.
Class B North winner Mount Desert Island of Bar Harbor, which lost to Gray-New Gloucester 43-30 in the state game, graduated six players.
In boys basketball, Class AA state titlist Bangor has been hit hard by graduation as was Class A North winner Lawrence of Fairfield.
Bangor coach Brad Libby must replace nine players off a team that beat Bonny Eagle of Standish 58-48 in the state championship game.
Lawrence graduated seven players off its regional championship team, which suffered a 62-45 loss to Greely in the state game.
Caribou was the B state champ, capturing its first gold ball since 1969. The Vikings, which beat Cape Elizabeth 49-47 in the state final, graduated three players.
In Class C, Houlton was the regional king and lost to Winthrop 61-49 in the state game. The Shires have to replace three players.
Schenck of East Millinocket, which has four players, to replace won the Class D North crown before losing to Forest Hills of Jackman 70-65 in the title game.