LEE -- It may be the same program in the same gymnasium, but this Lee girls basketball scrimmage was a completely different experience for Alyssa Kelly than anything she saw last year.
"Last year, we had six seniors and they were the main people," the junior Wildcat said Friday. "This year, it's us. We need to work on being the main players."
Coming off a Division III state championship game appearance, the Wildcat girls are starting over with a new lineup -- all of last year's starters graduated -- and a new coach, Jenna Gangell. Lee played three 16-minute halves in Friday night's preseason jamboree, meeting Lenox, Monument Mountain and Mount Everett.
The games, which consisted of two 8-minute quarters each, mostly involved South County schools. Mount Greylock's boys participated as well, playing Mount Everett, Lee and Monument Mountain. County referees volunteered their time to call the games.
For Mount Everett guard Malik Wilbon, the game represented a change of uniform -- both in sport and color scheme. He played football in Monument's co-op program in the fall, but was never far from the basketball court.
Late in the season, he was finding ways to practice for both sports in the same day.
"Our captains' practices went late sometimes, so after practice, I'd go to basketball," Wilbon said. "I'd play basketball on the weekends."
While Friday's shortened games were the first game situations for most of the players and coaches, many were treating the jamboree as an extension of practice. Lenox girls coach Nicole Patella found the jamboree to be a good measure of where her young Millionaires are when it comes to conditioning.
"Although I was shuffling everybody in and out, I still got to see, with the top seven or top eight, where their fitness is," she said.
Despite each game lasting just two quarters, all but the Mount Everett teams had back-to-back games, giving the feel of a full game. Today, everyone settles back into practices or scrimmages in preparation for Thursday's opening night of the regular season.
It took Kelly a few minutes to get back into the rhythm of a game, but overall, she liked the Wildcats' effort.
"Going back and forth was kind of tough, but once you start playing, it's fine," she said. "It felt like a game. We didn't know what defense they were going to bring to us, or what they would call on us."
For Wilbon, the jamboree felt like both a game and a practice. Still, with nothing on the line and the focus being on early-season improvement, it wasn't nearly as intense as a regular-season situation.
"You always want to go out and win, but we're looking at it as more of a practice than a game, to see how our team plays together in a game situation," he said.
To reach Matthew Sprague:
or (413) 496-6254.
On Twitter: @EagleSportsZone.