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Women's basketball ready for season opener Friday

WATERVILLE, Maine – With 1,000-point scorer Haley Driscoll graduating and playing in last Saturday’s alumni game, the Colby College women’s basketball team will need veteran players step up in the 2018-19 season.

The Mules, under head coach Brittany Gaetano, open the year Friday at 7 p.m. against Colby-Sawyer College in the Bowdoin College Coastal Classic. The tourney is set up ahead of time so the Mules and Polar Bears will not meet. Colby meets Regis College at 2 p.m. Saturday.

"Haley was a huge presence for us last year, but our team has really stepped up in many areas to fill that void," Gaetano said. "I think that the addition of our first-years, combined with the significant improvements of several of our returners this off-season, make us a more versatile team."

Senior co-captains Katie McCrum (Saco, Maine) and Sarah Hancock (pictured, Casco, Maine) will lead the Mules. McCrum is the top returning scorer (10.3) and also averaged 4.3 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game. She lifted her game in league contests to average 11.7 points and 5.3 rebounds. Hancock averaged 2.3 assists and was tied for second on the Mules in steals. McCrum, who led the Mules in made 3-point shots (42), and Hancock both shot a solid 75 percent (24-for-32) from the foul line.

The three juniors on the team – Ainsley Burns (Barrington, R.I.), Paige Russell (Alexandria, Va.), and Jane MacKerron (New York, N.Y.) – will all play key roles. Burns was second behind McCabe in minutes played (32.6) and averaged 9.3 points. Russell was fourth in scoring (7.5), third in rebounding (4.7), and third in assists (2.7). MacKerron saw limited time last year while averaging 2.0 points and 1.8 rebounds, but should get more minutes this season as an inside presence.

Senior center Emily Davis (Sudbury, Mass.) and senior guard Jackie Albanese (Manhasset, N.Y.) will be counted on for more scoring. Davis was tied for the team lead in rebounding (5.8) and was tied for second in steals, while Albanese averaged 4.2 points and was second on the team in made 3-point field goals (26).

Despite giving up inches at most positions last year, the Mules had success rebounding using team balance.

"Being strong on the boards is a big point of emphasis for us, so we expect each player to contribute to that statistic again this year," Gaetano said.

Sophomore forwards Grace Coutu (Barrington, R.I.) and Kara Petronio (Needham, Mass.) will need to supply solid minutes on the forward line. Coutu, at 6-foot-2, had two starts last year and averaged 3.2 points, 3.9 rebounds, and was third on the team in blocked shots (15). Petronio shot 50 percent from the field and rebounded well in limited minutes.

Three first-year guards Keagan Dunbar (Bellow Falls, Vt.), Carly Christofori (Belmont, Mass.), and Nayeli Germosen (Lynn, Mass.) all should make an impact. Dunbar was Middlebury Union's all-time leading scorer, Christofori was the Middlesex League MVP, and Germosen was a three-year captain in high school.

"We have a talented group of first years who have already made a positive impact within our program and culture," Gaetano said.