NORTH SALEM, N.Y. – With just nine players, a new system to learn and a tough schedule on deck, North Salem girls basketball has their work cut out for them this winter.

But newly hired head coach, Lance DeMarzo, has never been a glass-half-empty kind of guy.

“To me, I’m a believer,” the coach said. “I just think these girls are capable.”

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DeMarzo, whose two-plus decades of varsity coaching experience includes successful stops at Mahopac and Kennedy, was hired to lead the girls basketball program in October.

The team, which finished 11-10 a year ago with a first-round playoff exit, will be led by three returning senior starters: Julia DeSanto, Amanda Marano, and Elizabeth Squire.

Rounding out the roster are junior Ellen Herlihy, junior Sydnie Jacobsen, senior Joan Herlihy, senior Hannah Carminucci, senior Leah Wright and senior Megan Wright.

“I’m going to be relying on all nine players,” DeMarzo said. “We have a motto that it doesn’t matter who scores as long as you score.”

DeMarzo said he is encouraged by their pre-season workouts, including a recent scrimmage against Croton-Harmon.

“What I was impressed the most with by the whole team was the way we pushed the ball up the floor. The way we handled the press and the pressure,” DeMarzo said. “We made a lot of mistakes but they’re correctable mistakes.”

Often, the coach said, the players recognize their errors before he has a chance to point them out.

“That’s what I’m most impressed about, is how they pick up things,” DeMarzo said. “They’re getting it. Communication is big with them. They’re asking questions.”

DeMarzo is especially impressed with how quickly his players are learning a new system.

“I put in a couple of new offenses, new press breakers, new traps. It’s like basically they’re starting from anew,” DeMarzo said. “Every day I see an improvement in them, and I see more confidence in them, and they seem to be enjoying themselves.”

The Tigers start the season against some tough competition, including matchups against Irvington, Briarcliff, and Woodlands.

“We’re going to have our hands full,” DeMarzo said. “But as long they improve every day, I’m really confident in my girls.”

North Salem opens their season at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 3, when they travel to The Leffell School (formerly the Solomon Schechter School) in Hartsdale.