With just two seniors, Montana State had finished the regular season with a winning record and earned a top-five seed in the Big Sky Tournament. The Bobcats appeared to be a youthful team with potential.

Now some of those young players have left the program. The Bobcats announced on Friday freshmen Halle Wright, Brynley Fitzgerald and Kamden Hilborn are vacating the program “to explore other opportunities.”

“We thank all three for their efforts this season,” MSU head coach Tricia Binford said in a press release, “and wish them nothing but the best in their future endeavors.”

With those three, two of which are from Montana, gone as well as last season’s leading scorer Claire Lundberg and Madisyn Shaide graduating, the Bobcats lose five of their 14 players on last year’s roster and 28 percent of their minutes from last season. None of the returning Bobcats are Montana natives.

Wright, an Aumsville, Oregon, native, said in the press release that she will be moving back to Oregon to be closer to family.

After she was diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat and sprained her ACL in the preseason, Wright practiced just twice and then played her first game at MSU in late November. She played off the bench to start the year but then earned the starting point guard spot in her fourth career game. She showed composure early then displayed standout court vision on drives and passes which created fluidity in MSU’s offense.

Wright’s versatility was also key. She could defend multiple positions, and when Lundberg tore her ACL while averaging a Big Sky sixth-best 17 points per game, Wright moved over to forward to allow Oliana Squires to take over responsibilities at point.

In 26.4 minutes a game, Wright made 32% of her shots while averaging 5.3 points and 4.2 rebounds to go with 67 assists and 18 steals.

“Just building that patience in and getting kids like Halle with that vision and just start getting us into (the offense) will be helpful as a team,” Binford said last season.

Fitzgerald and Hilborn had already made their intentions to leave the Bobcats public before Friday. Montana Western, which won the NAIA championship last season, announced Fitzgerald would transfer there in her hometown of Dillon. The forward played one season as a preferred walk-on with the Bobcats, appearing in 14 games and totaling 10 points and nine rebounds in 4.4 minutes per game.

Hilborn is already pole vaulting for the MSU track and field program, an event she won a Class AA title in. The Helena High graduate averaged 10.5 minutes in 26 games, scoring 1.1 points per game while shooting 20 percent from the field and 14.3 percent from 3-point range. She also totaled 33 rebounds and 32 assists.

But her most significant contribution was on defense. Binford praised Hilborn throughout the season for her aggressive edge and athleticism. She finished last season with 13 steals and three blocks.

Hilborn said the team’s chemistry and therefore level of play would only improve as her class of players gained more college experience.

“I feel like (Binford) has done a really good job of getting players time that deserve time. Whether that be two minutes or 10 minutes in a game, she always says be ready to go,” Hilborn said last season. “So I feel like this year that’s really been my role is just bring the energy and the intensity, whatever time I do get.”

An MSU spokesperson said Binford was on a recruiting trip and unavailable for further comment on Friday.

Colton Pool can be reached at cpool@dailychronicle.com or 406-582-2690. Follow him on Twitter @CPoolReporter.