LATHAM Madison Rowland is no longer around to lead the Shaker girls basketball team to victory, so other players must step up this season.
With the graduation of Rowland, who was the Blue Bison's leading scorer last season, coach Emily Caschera-Bowles said the four returning starters must pick up the slack.
"I think it's a big deal losing our leading scorer who was averaging 20 points per game," said Caschera-Bowles. "But we do have four starters returning."
Three key players the Blue Bison may lean on are Lyric Artis, Adriene Gambles and Jenny Barra. All three were complementary players to Rowland in the offense last season, and all three are capable of reaching double digits in scoring.
"They showed a lot of progress," said Caschera-Bowles. "The big thing is they have to consistently show that they can do it."
Merrick Rowland -- the last of the three Rowland sisters that led Shaker to the 2012 Section II Class AA title -- is also back for her senior season. Merrick came off the bench each of the past two years, but Caschera-Bowles sees a larger role for her this time around.
"Showing up consistently is going to be a key for her this year, but I see her contributing a lot," said Caschera-Bowles.
The Suburban Council won't take it easy on Shaker as it seeks another North Division title and a bid for the top seed in the Class AA playoffs. Caschera-Bowles said the league has gotten tougher this season, with Shenendehowa and Bethlehem among the top contenders.
"I think Bethlehem is currently the favorite (for the overall league title)," said Caschera-Bowles. "They lost (Bridget) Murphy, but they have their core four back with the Giacone sisters (Gabby and Jenna) and their young guard (Kaylee Rickert)."
Shaker begins its season Friday when it hosts Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake. The Blue Bison then travel to Saratoga Springs Tuesday, Dec. 10.
"Saratoga has a new coach, so it will be interesting to see how they do. They gave us a tough time last year," said Caschera-Bowles.