BY GARY HAWKINS

Staff Writer

The Colby women’s basketball team had a strong low-post game last season led by Jil Vaughn and Augusta’s Rachel Mack. But both have graduated along with Arika Ritchie and leave a scoring and rebounding void that may be difficult to fill.

This year’s team is more centered around guard play which plays into the hands of a couple of incoming freshman, Carylanne Wolfington and Mia Diplock. The pair led their teams to state championship appearances last season, Wolfington at Hall-Dale and Diplock at Cony, and were named Kennebec Journal Co-Players of the year.

Given the youth on the Mules roster — the team opens against Bridgewater State on Friday — both should see playing time this season. They worked out together over the summer and played with a group of teammates two days a week in Portland. They’re similar players in that they are both good 3-point shooters who can use their physical strength and quickness to take their opponents to the basket.

“For this league that’s what enticed me to want to recruit them,” Colby coach Julie Veilleux said. “Both of them will have a lot of opportunity because we’re so young.”

The Mules bring back several talented guards, however, led by senior point guard Diana Manduca. Diplock is primarily a point guard while Wolfington play the off guard position. Both have had a semester to acclimate to college life and the academic workload.

“It’s so much different than high school.,” Wolfington said. “Here they give you all the tools you need to adjust.”

Practices vary quite a bit from high school, too. There’s much more emphasis on set plays and individual responsibility and the players lift weights three times a week.

“It’s definitely a lot more intense,” Diplock said. “We’re in the gym four hours a day sometimes. You have to get there early and warm up on your own.”

Veilleux also liked the fact that the two are at their best when the stakes are the greatest. Wolfington took over down the stretch to lead the Bulldogs past Waynflete in the Western Maine Class C championship game while Diplock did the same against Edward Little in the Eastern A final.

Both were three-sport athletes in high school, Diplock playing basketball, soccer and lacrosse and Wolfington basketball, soccer and softball.

“You can tell they’re athletes,” Veilleux said.

Wolfington was also recruited to play softball at Colby and will play that sport next spring while Diplock also considered playing lacrosse.

“I’m probably not going to play,” she said. “Just with the whole commitment already. We played six days a week this fall and we also play in the spring.”

Veilleux said she places a high priority on recruiting top players from Maine and has six on her roster this winter.

“It’s nice that they’re not only from Maine,” she said. “But they’re also from the same area.”

Diplock said many of her friends plan to watch her play while Wolfington also expects a strong contingent of local fans.

Gary Hawkins — 621-5638

ghawkins@centralmaine.com