Four senior starters led the Pearl River girls basketball team to the 2011-12 Section 1 Class A championship.
The one downside to a season like that is filling in the pieces when those seniors are gone the following season.
Pearl River enters the 2012-13 season with only one starter, senior guard Marissa Scognamiglio. As late as Tuesday morning Head Coach Lorraine Moylan said she was only completely sure of three starters for the coming season.
"There might be a lot of different people playing different roles at different moments," Moylan said. "They are younger and there is a lot of learning and teaching going on. A lot of growing. That can't happen overnight."
The style of play will likely be the same, as it usually is with a team coached by Moylan. The Pirates will play up-tempo. They will rely on their quickness and their defense.
Much of the experience the Pirates do have is concentrated in the back court. In addition to Scognamiglio, senior Amanda DeCourcey returns at guard. She was the team's top player off the bench and an occasional starter last season. The also played together for five years on the .
"Missy started last year and had a very good year," Moylan said. "Amanda came in and put up some great moments and games. Both of them are our captains and leaders.
"I think they understand each other. They know how to help each other through good things and difficult times. The chemistry is better because they know each other."
Junior guard Samantha Alicandri, who brings tremendous speed to the court, will also start to open the season after getting some time off the bench as a sophomore.
"Sam is another quick kid who has to do some scoring for us," Moylan said.
All three players have experience at point guard. Scognamiglio shifted there last year, but she could go back to the wing as the Pirates look for her to take on more of an offensive load. The four seniors who graduated took a big chunk of the team's offense with them, including the Christa Scognamiglio, the Pirates' all-time leading scorer.
"She has a lot of stuff to do," Moylan said. "She does have to score. She's a great passer, too. She's got that speed that she can kick to another level. She brings all of that to the table. She will be on the defensive end, getting deflections and steals."
DeCourcey will likely also have to take more shots.
"Amanda can get to the basket," Moylan said. "She makes people around her better and can get them the ball. She reads the game very well and has a good sense of where to be."
A couple of 5-foot-10 forwards, sophomore Emma Daley and senior Jessica Dolan, are likely candidates to join the starting five.
"(Dolan) is big and she's strong," Moylan said. "Hopefully, she can cause some havoc inside.
"Jess Dolan is showing in moments she can help us offensively."
Jess Neugebauer saw time off the bench a year ago, but missed much of the preseason with an ankle injury. Meaghan DiGiovanni also brings some experience.
The Pirates also have five new players on the varsity who could see minutes -- junior Erin Woods and freshmen Jenna Scanlon, Kari Portington, Lauren Gallagher and Julie Marsico. Gallagher has already had varsity success in another sport. She started in goal for the girls soccer team.
"Erin Woods could come in for a defensive boost. She's quick and she plays really hard," Moylan said. "(The freshmen) look like they are going to help us out. They have good quickness and athletic ability."
Pearl River battled Albertus Magnus and Tappan Zee for section, county and league supremacy a year ago, with all three teams making the section semifinals and Pearl River defeating Tappan Zee in the title game.
Tappan Zee also suffered heavy losses to graduation, but junior guard Kristen McLaughlin could be one of the best in the section this season.
Albertus Magnus returned most of the team that lost in the semifinals for a third consecutive season, lost junior guard Kelly Guarino for the season to a torn ACL in her right knee. The Falcons still feature 6-1 Manhattan recruit Maeve Parahus, another of the section's top players, with some solid size and talent around her.
Pearl River also sought out tough competition outside its league, including Oneonta, Floral Park, Section 1 Class B champion Irvington and Mt. Vernon.
Pearl River opens with Mt. Vernon 11 a.m. Saturday at White Plains in the Queens of the Court Tournament.
Editor's note: Pearl River's full schedule for 2012-13 is attached to this report.