By MICHAEL KELLY
BROADALBIN -- If they were a TV show, the Broadalbin-Perth Lady Patriots would carry a "The New Class" tag for this upcoming girls basketball season.
All five starters from a season ago will not suit up for head coach Mike Magliocca on the Lady Patriots' opening-night game against Coxsackie-Athens on Dec. 3, while only point guard Katie Herba is on this season's roster from last year's starting unit. Herba -- the only senior on this year's team -- is likely going to miss at least the first month of the season with an ankle injury suffered during her soccer campaign.
Of Magliocca's nine healthy players, four were on last season's varsity squad and played sparingly. At Wednesday's practice, the coach said that the team's preseason has been much different than those of past years.
"There's a lot of teaching," he said. "Basically, right now, we're missing game experience and leadership. But I do expect the girls that were on varsity last year to pick up that leadership role."
The 2013-14 season was always going to be a transition year for the Lady Patriots. Kaitlin Wood -- a career 1,000-point scorer -- graduated this past spring, but Herba's injuries and a couple other players deciding not to play this season have made things extra tough for B-P.
"We knew it was going to be a learning experience," said Magliocca. "But I wasn't expecting a completely fresh slate."
Still, the coach described this year's group as "refreshing." Practices have been a little slower for the Lady Patriots to help with the team's learning curve, but junior Nicole Traver said the team's rookies were coming along.
"They're all working hard to get to where we need to be," said Traver, who will captain the team along with Herba. "They all listen to Coach and try their hardest to become better players."
The Lady Patriots know that wins are going to be tough to come by in the Foothills Council. The club's players said that the goal for early in the season is simply to become comfortable with one another on the court.
"Just playing off one another, and trusting each other," junior Christa Decker said was an early-season goal.
While a victory against Stillwater in their non-league opener would be nice, Traver agreed with Decker that learning to play together is the most crucial thing for the Lady Patriots early in the season.
"Clicking on the court, reading each others' minds," she said. "As long as we're able to see each other ... and find the open person, that would be a good outcome of the (Stillwater) game, even if we didn't win."
Magliocca said that he did not want to set any win-loss goals for the season because of his team's youth. Instead, the club with one senior, four juniors, four sophomores and a freshman is going to focus on getting better each day.
"My benchmark is one game at a time," he said. "We can't look at anything else other than one game at a time."
But that's not to say that Magliocca does not believe his squad could surprise some people before the end of the season.
"If they keep practicing hard and learning every day, good things could happen," Magliocca said.
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