Kelsey Bragdon knew she would be stepping up to a bigger role for Colby-Sawyer College’s basketball team in her junior season.

Her coach saw she could handle it after the way Bragdon played in last season’s North Atlantic Conference championship game.

“Our starting senior post player rolled her ankle with about 12 minutes to go in the game and that’s when Kelsey came in,” said Coach George Martin. “She didn’t come out.”

In less than 10 minutes, the 5-foot-11 former Wells High standout blocked five shots in a 65-59 win at Castleton (Vt.) State. Her 3-pointer broke a 52-52 tie that put Colby-Sawyer on top for good and clinched Colby-Sawyer’s seventh league title and seventh trip to the NCAA Division III championships under Martin.

“Being on the floor when you win and being part of the five that gets you there, doing it in a packed gym, it was probably one of my top accomplishments in my sport,” Bragdon said.

This season the Chargers got off to a slow start, losing their first four games, but enter the holiday break with a 4-5 record.

Colby-Sawyer is coming off a 23-6 season that included a 17-1 league record but graduated three starters who accumulated more than 4,000 career points, including Taylor DeSanty, the school’s all-time leader in points (1,743), three-pointers (219) and field goals (649).

“I knew I was going to be playing more so just through that I knew I would have to contribute more,” Bragdon said.

Bragdon is leading Colby-Sawyer in scoring (11.4) and second on the team in rebounding (5.3) and has significantly improved her three-point shooting. She’s already matched her career high with 14 successful 3s through nine games while shooting .424 behind the arc compared to her career .252 mark entering the season.

Martin said he thinks Bragdon’s improved accuracy is a function of having a regular role.

For her part, Bragdon said she doesn’t really focus on her scoring but is working to cut down on her team-high 3.4 turnovers a game.

“I call myself a gym rat. I like to go to the gym, get stronger, get better. I like to play. I enjoy playing pickup. (Basketball has) become part of my life basically,” Bragdon said.

She is a sports management major at the New London, N.H., school.

“I would really love to be a college coach. I would love to coach basketball,” Bragdon said.

But first she has two more seasons to keep Colby-Sawyer among New England’s better small college women’s basketball programs. The Chargers are 3-0 in the NAC and Bragdon feels a team with 13 players who are freshmen or sophomores is getting better.

Among the newcomers is Marquis MacGlashing of Cape Neddick, a four-year varsity player at York. She’s played sparingly, but a recent 10-point, four-rebound effort in a win against Green Mountain College bodes well.

Both Bragdon and Martin said MacGlashing’s improvement is indicative of the team’s growth.

“It’s definitely started to come together. We’re a young team so we still have to find our other people to step up,” Bragdon said.

MEN’S HOCKEY

Jon Gillies of South Portland departed Wednesday morning for Angelhom, Sweden, as part of the Team USA hockey team that will take part in the World Junior Championship.

The star goalie at Providence College, Gillies is one of three returners from the 2013 World Juniors that won gold in Ufa, Russia. This year the World Juniors are Dec. 26-Jan. 4 in Malmo, Sweden.

Last year Gillies played one period during the World Juniors, but will likely be a key component this time.

Gillies was Hockey East’s Goaltender of the Month in both October and November. In November he went 7-1-1 to raise his record to 10-1-3 and established himself as the Friars’ all-time leader in shutouts with his eighth.

A third-round pick (75th overall) of the Calgary Flames in 2012, the 6-foot-5, 215-pound Gillies is ranked among the national leaders in goals against average (1.88) and save percentage (.941).

On Tuesday night he got the start in Team USA’s first exhibition game against Minnesota State in Mankato, Minn. Gillies stopped 11 of 12 shots, allowing a power-play goal. By design, he was replaced at the game’s mid-point by Anthony Stolarz (London Knights of the OHL). Team USA won 3-2 in overtime.

The third goalie on the roster is Thatcher Demko, a freshman at Boston College who was the starting netminder for the silver medalist U-18 World Championship team in 2013. All three are likely to win a World Junior roster spot. Three skaters will be trimmed from the roster prior to the tournament’s start.

Team USA plays Sweden in an exhibition in Angelhom Friday.

Harvard sophomore Brian Hart of Cumberland (Phillips Exeter Academy) has posted one goal with seven assists while playing in all 13 games for the Crimson, who are 4-7-2 at the holiday break. Hart, 6-3 and 212 pounds, was a second-round pick (53rd overall) of the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. As a freshman at Harvard he had five goals and 13 assists in 30 games.

Steve Craig can be reached at 791-6413 or at:

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Twitter: SteveCCraig