PIITSFIELD - This will be a season of change in Berkshire County girls high school basketball.
Six of the eight players on last year's All-Eagle team have graduated, including 2013 MVP Eileen Dooley and 2012 All-Eagle MVP Stephanie Young, both of Lee.
Those losses, of course, are to be expected. Players graduate. But 25 percent of the teams in the county will also have new coaches. The newcomers are Jenna Gangell at Lee, Jay Meehan at Drury and Antwan Morrison at St. Joseph.
Meehan is something of a known quantity: He coached both the Mount Greylock and the Drury boys prior to his stint with the Blue Devils girls.
But his last county job was four years ago, at Drury.
"I haven't coached in a while," he admitted. "I'm not sure why I came back. But it's hard to stay away, I guess. I think it will be fun."
Morrison will be in his first year at St. Joseph, although he has considerable experience as a coach with the Albany City Rocks 17 and-under-team and the 17U Albany Lady Stars National 17-and-under team in Albany, N.Y.
Gangell is probably the coach that will undergo the most scrutiny. She inherits the most successful high school girls basketball program in the state of Massachusetts, let alone Berkshire County.
The Wildcats have won seven state championships, including five in a row. Lee has appeared in 15 state finals, including a mind-boggling 10 in succession from 1989-98.
A majority of those state crowns were orchestrated by coach Tom Cinella, but coach Gary Wellington, who ran the show for the past five years, has also had his share of championship runs. This includes the program's last title in 2010.
Last year, Lee was in the finals last year, losing to Archbishop Williams, probably one of the best girls basketball teams in any division in New England.
Gangell, who is a cousin to the Wildcats' 1,000-point scorer Sally Gangell, was a part of that run in the early part of the last decade. She was a heady 5-5 guard who helped the Wildcats to a state title in 2003 and a state final appearance two years later. For the past two years, she has been the Wildcats' junior varsity coach under Wellington.
Gangell is aware that expectations will be high. She is equally aware that her team is inexperienced. The Wildcats have no seniors., four juniors, two sophomores and five freshmen. It is the youngest girls varsity basketball roster in Berkshire County.
"We're going to take this season one game at a time," she said. "We're going to use each game as a learning experience.
"We have a core of girls we're able to work with," she added. "We're going to play tough defense and play hard."
She credited Wellington with assisting in the transition by providing her with advice and encouragement.
"He's been very helpful," said Gangell of Wellington. "He and I have had several chats. He's been a good mentor."
She doesn't go too far in predicting the season. But then, no coach in the recent history of the Wildcat girls program has had to start with so little experience.
"We'll be competitive," she said.