The North Country Community College women's basketball team is coming off one of the most successful season's in school history.
The Saints finished with a Final Four appearance in the NJCAA Region III Division III tournament a year ago after a 16-9 record. North Country defeated Clinton Community College in the first-round of the tournament, but fell in the semifinals to No. 1 seed Onondaga Community College.
Just three players, however, return from last season's team. Ayanda Ntombela, a guard from Ithaca, will be looked to by her teammates to provide leadership.
"Ayanda is our captain," Saints coach Jerrad Dumont said. "She will play both the one and two spots this season and will be looked to lead our team this year, much like she did last season."
Ntombela averaged 14 points per game last season and dished out nearly five assists per game.
One thing Dumont is looking forward to this season is the ability to play a little inside-outside basketball.
"I brought in quite a few freshmen this season," Dumont said. "Which actually brought us in some size. We haven't had this much post presence in the past.
"We should have both an inside and an outside game this season."
Justina Smith, a guard from Brooklyn, was a key recruit for Dumont this season. She is a very athletic three-guard, who Dumont believes could be all-region as a freshmen.
"She should do well here," he said. "She is going to help this team take the next step."
One of the problems for Dumont this year may be having too much talent. After Ntombela and Smith he is unsure of who will be in the starting lineup.
"I usually know my starting five right from the beginning," he said. "This year we have so much talent and are much deeper than we have been in the past. But, that should help us in the regional tournament.
"The lineup is still up in the air. It will change game-by-game and depend how well a player does during practice."
Locally, Dumont landed a pair of players from last season's Peru team in Kelly Kezar and Stephanie Demarais, both of which he believes will see a lot of playing time.
"They are both playing very well," he said. "Both of them will get a lot of minutes off of the bench this year.
"They will also probably lead us from the 3-point line."
Dumont heads into his fourth season at the helm for the Saints and, so far, has improved in each of his first three seasons.
"Our program has improved every year since I have been here," he said. "This year my goal for this team is to get back to the Regional Final Four and push for a Regional Championship."
The Saints make their season debut tonight against Jefferson Community College at 5 p.m. in Saranac Lake.
North Country Community College Women's Basketball
# Name Hometown Year Position
1 Justina Smith Brooklyn F G
2 Christina Sherman Westport F G
3 Veronique Moore Brooklyn F F
5 LaCandice Sanders Waco, TX S G
10 Kelly Kezar Peru F G
11 Steph Demarais Peru F G
12 Ayanda Ntombela Ithaca S G
15 Star Foster Princeton, NJ F F
21 Ashley Branton Athens, GA F F
24 Zakiya Correll Brooklyn F G
30 Destiny Petty Queens S G
32 Essence Kyles Queens F F
33 Isatou Kujabi Bronx S F