Last season, everything Spruce Mountain did was centered around Alex Bessey. And for good reason: Bessey was a career 1,000-point scorer, and the Phoenix were an inexperienced team.

Bessey is now playing at Central Maine Community College, but second-year Spruce Mountain coach Zach Keene said the program is ready for the next stage.

“We return everybody other than her,” Keene said. “Everyone is a year older, a year more experienced.”

Chief among the returners are junior Haley Turcotte and senior Haley Turcotte.

Turcotte already has two years of significant varsity experience and was a second-team all-KVAC honoree last year. Keene said she made further strides to become more than just a shooter.

“She’s more well-rounded offensively,” Keene said. “She’s one of the ones that’s really going to have to step up from last year.”

St. Pierre, a versatile, athletic player, missed a large majority of last season with a hand injury.

“She’s healthy now, and she’s going to be huge for us,” Keene said.

Senior Morgan Dalton and sophomore Jaycee Cole will be the primary ball handlers.

There also is frontcourt depth that will allow the Phoenix to matchup with taller teams, Keene said their first choice will be to speed up the pace on both ends of the court.

“We’ll be athletic and fast, physical,” Keene said. “And really look to use that to our advantage. We have a lot of good athletes, good length. So I think you’ll see a faster pace team than last year.”

The Phoenix have moved back into the MVC, which means they’ll play more Class C teams than they did in the KVAC. That likely will provide more opportunities for wins, but it also leaves less margin for error.

Coach: Zach Keene (second year)

Conference: Mountain Valley; Class: B South

Last year’s results: 7-11

Returning athletes: Seniors — Hanna St Pierre, Lyndzi Dolloff, Lauren Cornelio, Morgan Dalton, Anneka Dubord, Hailee Perkins, Emily Goding; Juniors — Haley Turcotte, Calley Baker, Emily White; Sophomore — Jaycee Cole.

Key losses: Alex Bessey.

Promising newcomers: Senior — Mikenzie Parker; Freshman — Auri Armandi.