NAC repeat?

For the first time in five seasons, the Castleton women’s basketball team will be the defending North Atlantic Conference Champions. And defending this crown will not come easy.

Castleton has lost two 1,000-point scorers in Jess Banks and Mary Nienow. The team has also lost LeeAnne Ketchen, who performed well down the stretch last season, to graduation.

“It’s going to be a little bit different [this year],” said coach Tim Barrett, now entering his ninth season at the helm. “We lost about 90 percent of our scoring, but our nucleus of returning players has a lot of experience up front.”

Barrett says he wants his team to establish a presence inside the paint and balance the scoring out. Senior Laura Cary and junior Kristie Dunchus are expected to combine size, presence and experience inside. Senior Katie Hoxsie is expected to get a lot of playing time as well.

“[Christine] Jaques looks like she’ll be running point for us,” Barrett said of his sophomore guard.

Barrett also says he looks to newcomers, Tarryn Bolognani and Vanessa Powers to be significant contributors as well.

The new playing style is going to be met with what Barrett calls one of the toughest non-conference schedules for women’s basketball ever.

The Spartans open the season at home against New England College on Nov. 17. Then they hit the road for their next eight contests before returning home next semester.

“We’re really going to be challenged the first semester,” Barrett said. “We’re playing Baruch in the Plattsburgh tournament. They went to the second round of the NCAA’s last year.”

The Spartans also face tough competition in-conference with Husson returning almost its entire squad. Among the returners are NAC player of the year, Shelby Bradford, and NAC rookie of the year, Bree Hanscom. Husson was chosen to finish first unanimously in a preseason poll, while the defending champions were picked fourth. That ranking will only inspire the Spartans to try to repeat for their first time.

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