Graduation losses to defending Class A champion Messalonskee proved critical for the Eagles at least in the early part of the season.

The Eagles returned two high profile players in senior Ally Turner and forward Gabrielle Wener, but will take a little while to adjust to the loss of all-state guard Sophie Holmes, center McKenna Brodeur and defensive guard Lydia Dexter.

“I think the girls had been pretty realistic with what we lost last year,” Messalonskee coach Keith Derosby said. “Public perception is if you’re winning, you just keep on winning.”

The Eagles received a rude awakening in their opener when they were beaten 67-29 to a strong returning Hampden Academy team. The visiting Broncos, who are built around 6-foot-2 center Bailey Donovan, shot over 60 percent from the floor while the Eagles struggled shooting the ball.

Messalonskee made a stronger showing in its next game at Lawrence but the Bulldogs got hot in the fourth quarter and pulled away to a 58-43 win.

Derosby admits that after the losses the team went back to basics and by Game 3 against Brewer, the Eagles began to find some rhythm to their game.

“We were trying out some things,” he said. “In the third quarter we started playing as a unit.”

Turner and Wener, at 6-feet and 6-1, respectively, are versatile all-around players who figured vitally into the team’s success last season. Derosby said they may be putting a little pressure on themselves, but his expectations remain the same.

“I expect them to give me what they can give me,” he said.

The Eagles do miss the inside presence Brodeur gave them at both ends of the floor and are working to establish that. They’re also trying to work in new players. Senior Mikayla Wilson saw significant time last season but many of the other returning players saw spot duty.

“At some point it’s next man up,” Derosby said. “But sometimes it takes awhile.”

Junior Alyssa Genness, sophomore Bri Benecke and freshman Brooke Martin are each earning minutes so far as the Eagles search for a winning combination.

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With several returning seniors, Lawrence figured to have a strong year under first-year coach and former long-time assistant Greg Chesley. So far the Bulldogs have, despite the loss of senior guard and leading returning scorer Hunter Mercier who tore her ACL in a preseason game and is lost for the year.

“We lost a lot of points there,” Chesley said. “We were defensive minded before, now we’re even moreso.”

Junior Megan Curtis has stepped in to fill some of the void left by Mercier, a top three-point shooter and one of the team’s top ballhandlers. Lawrence opened the season with wins over Cony and Messalonskee before dropping a 49-43 decision to Hampden. The Bulldogs, who featured a small lineup, had to deal with 6-2 Hampden center Bailey Donovan.

“We held them to 49 points,” Chesley said. “We focused on boxing out and keeping Donovan off the boards.”

The Bulldogs played deliberately at the offensive end. Chesley pulled senior Molly Folsom outside to bring Donovan with her. Folsom, who had never attempted a three-pointer in her varsity career, connected on two attempts to keep her team close and pull Donovan away from the basket.

Senior Camryn Caldwell is another returning starter and three-point shooter. Along with Curtis and sophomore Keagan Alley, Caldwell’s shooting helped the Bulldogs pull away in the win against Messalonskee. Alley also played well defensively in guarding 6-foot point guard Ally Turner.

Chesley is also getting good minutes off the bench from sophomore newcomers, Lexi Lewis, Savannah Weston and Miranda Lambert.

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Second-year Maine Central Institute coach Jordan Larlee is expecting big things from his Huskies this season and so far they’re producing. They defeated Belfast in their opener and survived a four-hour bus ride to Caribou in knocking off the Vikings by two points.

“They have a couple of pretty good pieces,” Larlee said of Caribou. “It was really a good win for us.”

Because of a scorebook discrepancy, the Huskies had two points taken away from them in the first half. It turns out the home book made a mistake though since the game was televised and the mistake was confirmed by viewers.

One of MCI’s strengths is its depth.

“We’re definitely spreading the scoring around,” Larlee said. “We have six players who can score 20 points on any given night.”

The Huskies, who play in Class B North, return the bulk of their lineup from a year ago led by senior guards April McAlpine and Sydney Norton and junior center Christa Carr. They’ve also added some key players in Sydney Farrar, a transfer from Calais, Maria Reed, a transfer from Nokomis, and dormitory student Claudia Alvarez.

• • •

At 2-2, Hall-Dale has already exceeded its win total of a year ago. The Bulldogs bring eight players who took their lumps last season.

“We learned a lot of tough lessons last year,” Hall-Dale coach Jarod Richmond said. “We said these tough times won’t last if we stick together.”

Richmond said his team doesn’t have a go-to player which he calls a blessing and a curse.

“We’re incredibly balanced,” he said. “Against Wiscasset we had nine girls who scored.”

In addition to wins against Telstar and Wiscasset, the Bulldogs have a two-point loss to Carrabec. Senior Ellie Dekker nailed a big 3-pointer to help Hall-Dale down Wiscasset while junior Kayla Searles is the only player to score in double figures so far.

Richmond is mixing his defenses this year and said his players have taken at least one charge in every game.

“We’re at the point where we can do some of those basketball IQ situations,” he said.