CROSS RIVER, N.Y. – The winds of change have swept through John Jay’s girls basketball program.

Gone are four out of five starters along with head coach Margo Hackett, who now is coaching at Rye.

Matt Gallagher, last year’s assistant coach, is now the Indians’ head coach. Plenty of new players will be seen on the court as well with the graduation of leading scorers Ana Dorta and Kendall Degenhardt along with lockdown defenders Jenna Giardina and Erin Walsh.

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“It will definitely take some time to build that chemistry that we had last year,” Gallagher said. “There are a lot of new things happening this year. A new coach, new players and a new system, so it definitely is going to take some time for us to feel comfortable. But we are working on it every practice and we have come a long way since we first started. We need to get better every day and they have definitely done that thus far.”

The lone returning starter, Kelly Nolan, is still recovering from an ACL injury which forced her to miss the entire soccer season. Nolan, a guard, is a senior co-captain.

“She will play a big role as a leader off the court for us until she is able to return,” Gallagher said.

Senior Sarah Pieratti and junior Lauren Munoz, both guards, are two key returners for the Indians who gave them minutes last season.

“We are looking for Sarah to command our offense and really lead us on that side of the ball,” Gallagher said. “Lauren is one of our best defenders and we are looking for her to be our defensive stopper.”

Jess Leff is a senior co-captain and forward for the Indians.

Kendall Miller, a senior who transferred to John Jay this year, is a “very talented player and will play big roles on offense and defense,” Gallagher said.

John Jay also has a strong group of young players who are looking to contribute.

“We have a really good group of freshmen that we think can play a big part in what we are trying to do this year,” Gallagher said.

Gallagher said the team’s strengths are athleticism and speed.

“We are not the biggest team but we are constantly moving and using our speed to our advantage,” he said. “I am very big into defense so our goal is to turn our defense into offense.”

John Jay, which fell in the Class A quarterfinals to Pearl River last season, opened the new campaign by facing Cardinal Spellman in the first round of Scarsdale’s tournament at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 5.

“Our goal is to come out every day and play hard and play together,” Gallagher said. “If we play how we are capable of playing, I think we could surprise some people.”

John Jay Wins Two, Loses One

John Jay started their season by splitting a pair of games. They fell to Cardinal Spellman (Bronx), 65-56, on Thursday, Dec. 5, in the first round of a four-team tournament at Scarsdale High School. Two days later, they defeated the tournament’s host, Scarsdale, 50-40, in the consolation game.

The Indians opened this week with a 62-31 win at Saunders on Tuesday (Dec. 10). They will also play in Fox Lane’s tournament on Thursday (Poughkeepsie) and Saturday (TBD).