Husson University women’s basketball coach Kissy Walker knew it was going to be a huge challenge to replace Kenzie Worcester this season.
The talented point guard graduated as the program’s No. 2 career scorer (1,869 points) and averaged 16.7 points, 4.9 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals over 112 games.
Her departure has opened the door for two eastern Maine players to elevate their contributions.
Junior Emma Alley of Millinocket has assumed the point guard role and sophomore Sydney Allen of Corinth has stepped up at shooting guard. They have played pivotal roles in the Eagles’ 7-0 start in North Atlantic Conference play.
Husson (10-7 overall) faces the University of Maine at Farmington (10-8, 7-0 NAC) in a 5:30 p.m. Friday showdown at Newman Gym in Bangor.
Allen (10.9 ppg) is Husson’s second-leading scorer, shooting 37.8 percent, including 40.2 percent from the 3-point line. She averaged 4.2 points last season.
The former Central High School standout set a program record on Jan. 24 by nailing eight 3-pointers, on 8-for-11 shooting in a 74-45 win at SUNY Canton and was chosen the NAC Player of the Week.
“We are looking to Sydney for scoring, and she can not only shoot outside, she also penetrates pretty well,” Walker said.
The 5-foot-5 Allen also is averaging 2.6 assists.
The 5-4 Alley leads the Eagles in assists (3.2 apg) and has also contributed 6.5 points per contest.
“We needed someone who could take control and run the offense. And she has reduced her turnovers,” Walker said.
The Eagles have also received a boost from sophomore Vanessa Duarte, who is the first guard off the bench. She is averaging 6.1 points and 1.3 assists in 18.4 minutes per game.
“She had been struggling but over her last three games or so, she has been hitting three or four shots and that has been pretty key for us,” Walker said of the strong defender.
Allen and Alley came into the season knowing they had to elevate their games and prepared themselves to do so.
“I trained a lot this summer and took a lot of shots,” Allen said. “I’ve been getting a lot more playing time this year and that definitely helps.”
Allen is averaging 24.9 minutes per game after playing 15.5 mpg last winter.
“My biggest thing this year is my leadership,” said Alley, who is trying to serve as a facilitator more than a scorer. “I definitely speak up more. I’ve been holding the girls accountable.”
And she has enjoyed watching Allen develop as a scorer.
“Sydney’s confidence has gone up like crazy. She’s been doing great.” Alley said.
Alley admitted she felt a little pressure early in the season but said time and experience, along with good scoring balance, have made her job easier.
Allen said she is with her development but continues to work hard to improve in all aspects.
At Husson, both girls are following in the footsteps of their mothers.
Kristi Wildman Tapley, Emma’s mother, and Sue Ann Allen, Sydney’s mom, are both in the Husson University Sports Hall of Fame as is Alley’s father, Raymond Alley.
Emma Alley said she and Allen have a close relationship.
“We go head to head in practice but, at the end of the day, we love each other and support each other. It’s fun,” Alley said.