By Tom Worgo, firstname.lastname@example.org
1:59 PM EST, December 6, 2011
2010-2011 record: 9-11
Returning starters: Junior small forward Maddie Crowell (5 feet, 10 inches), junior point guard Kate Snouffer (5-8), sophomore forward Katie Groenke (5-11).
Breakdown: The Mawrtians have more firepower on the perimeter this year with Crowell, Snouffer and senior Nancy Dunbar (5-6), who missed last season with an injury, back in the fold.
Inside, they will rely on Groenke, fellow sophomores Zoe Zowisa (5-11), Alexa Phillipou (5-9) and Georgia Carroll (5-10), junior Becca Aronson (6-0) and seniors Casey Brumback (5-10) and Caitlin Maloney (5-10) for strong rebounding on both ends of the floor.
"We have a lot of weapons," said Bryn Mawr coach Mimi Walters, when asked if Crowell would be the go-to shooter in the Mawrtians' half-court set this season. "On any given day, it could be somebody else."
Regardless of who ends up taking the shots, Walters wants the Mawrtians to get into attack mode early — and stay there.
"I'm really happy with our focus and how aggressive and assertive we were," she added after a recent 63-26 rout of Indian Creek. "There was no hesitation, and didn't get down on themselves when they missed a shot."
Other contributors include seniors Natalie Hamilton (5-8) and Charisma Johnson (5-4) and junior Jordan Bayer (5-4).
"We have a lot of balance, and can hurt you inside and outside," Walters said.
2011 record: 16-5
Returning starters: senior point guard Courtney Jantzen (5-7) and senior forward Kathy Albornoz (5-10)
Breakdown: New coach Jess Szymanski will have a difficult act following Rich Welsh.
Welsh went 121-71 in nine seasons.
And duplicating last year's success could be challenging for Szymanski, a varsity assistant last year.
She inherits a club with five returning varsity players and one loaded with questions.
"It's more of a rebuilding year," Szymanski said. "That's for sure. We lost a lot of players, and not that many have experience. But we have the potential to be decent and the girls don't realize that yet. Once we get a few wins under our belt, our confidence will rise."
Szymanski hopes Jantzen, senior Katie Russo (5-5) and junior Sara Dorl (5-7) can stabilize the backcourt that lost steady point guard Erin Eller to graduation.
Jantzen could lead the Lions in scoring.
"She is probably our No. 1 shooter," Szymanski said. "She can hit the three. She is also good at dishing and driving."
Juniors Corinne Wood (5-6) and Kelsey Swanson (5-6), sophomores Brooke Wall (5-8), Carly Glinowiecki (5-7) and Sara Sprinkle (5-7) and freshman Ellie Mathey (5-6) provide backcourt depth.
"I feel like we don't have a vocal leader," Szymanski said. "Right now, we are struggling for a vocal leader. A lot of the girls lead by example."
Szymanski needs Albornoz, seniors Shannon McKew (5-9) and Amy Bowden (6-0) to hit the boards and score consistently.
Sophomore Erin Briggs (5-9) and junior Nia Marrow (5-9) are also competing for time inside.
2010-2011 record: 14-5
Returning starters: Senior point guard Ella Cooper (5-5), junior power forward Molly Green (5-9), senior center Nurisha Rodriguez (5-5) and senior shooting guard Emma Sissman (5-7).
Breakdown: Losing a coach always sets a program back. And losing the team's top player can makes things even more difficult.
But new coach Mike Wall vows there will be no decline in the Quakers' play.
Wall, a varsity assistant last year who replaces Matt Lang, centers his optimism on the four returning starters.
"We had Bealela Donnelly last year and she was a dominant inside force," Wall said of a player who averaged 18 points per game. "It will take a team effort for us to be successful, but I think we have the team to do it. We have the outside shooting and the inside game. The whole package."
The backcourt — one of the best in the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland C Conference — is in the hands of two: the steady Sissman and Cooper tandem.
Cooper (University of Virginia) and Sissman (Davidson College) will both attend college on lacrosse scholarships.
Sissman inflicts most of her damage from the perimeter.
"Emma can fill it up," Wall said.
Cooper sets up teammates superbly, averaging five assists last year.
"She reads the defense well and is a quick driver," Wall said.
Senior guard Caroline Stanley (5-6) should also fit nicely into the starting lineup. She worked as a top sub last year.
Wall won't just be relying on his starters. Sophomore guard Alexis Heath (5-2), junior forward Anna Mortimer (5-4), junior center Sophia Springer (5-9) and freshman guard Rachel Kehoe (5-5) will also log quality minutes.
2010-2011 record: 12-8
Returning starters: Senior guards Kayla Toole (5-5) and Christie Moyer (5-2).
Breakdown: Cautious optimism is the mood at Loch Raven, considering the Raiders are primed for another solid season.
"I think it's rare that I have everyone on the same page, in terms of work ethic," said Allyson Sieka, a second-year coach. "I never have to come to the gym and ask them to work hard. I feel very confident."
Toole is the Raiders' sharpshooter. She led the team in scoring last year, averaging 15 points per game.
"She can shoot lights-out," Sieka said. "She hit five threes in one half against Western Tech last year."
Sophomore Courtney Genovese (5-5) will give Loch Raven aggressive play at point guard while making an immediate impact.
"I am looking for a leader and she has a lot of leadership skills for a young player," Sieka said. "I think she is going to be a very strong defender. Last year on the JV, she averaged like six points and 12 points a game."
Moyer should also be a factor in the backcourt.
Seniors Carly Cannon (5-2) and Abbie Ruppel (5-4) and sophomore Jessica Carpenter (5-2) also return to the varsity to bolster that area.
"We are smaller than last year, but we have more speed," Sieka said.
Returning senior forward Kelly Bilz (5-8) figures to anchor the frontcourt.
Sieka would like senior first-year player Hannah Jenkins (5-8), junior forwards Destiny Cromer (5-7), a junior varsity call-up, and Cheslea Hunt (5-8), also first-year player, another first-year player, to contribute quality minutes in the paint.
Junior guards Cammie Justis (5-5) and Sammie Knapp (5-4) and junior guard/forward Meredith Moore (5-6) give the Raiders a few more options off the bench.
2010-2011 record: 5-13
Returning starters: Senior guard Margaret Paules (5-6), senior center Anna Stephens (6-0) and senior forward Tereza Roros (5-8).
Breakdown: The Saints have a great shot at .500 or better in the IAAM C Conference.
After Lutheran took its lumps last year, the outlook is much rosier under coach Brent Johnson.
"We were pretty young in spots last year," Johnson said. "I expect to be an improved team this year. We are more experienced, more athletic and we can run a little more."
Stephens could be the Saints' top offensive option upfront. She has the ability to get to the basket and finish.
No player worked harder in the off-season than Stephens, who led the team in blocks last year.
"She has a chance to be an all-conference player," Johnson said.
Roros, senior Rebekah Schildwachter (5-10), junior center Rachel Herman (6-2) and junior Sarah Allen (5-10) are frontcourt veterans in line for major minutes.
Paules will direct the Saints from the point guard spot after leading the team is assists last year.
Senior Allison Stephens (5-9) and freshmen Katie Frank (5-6) and Abby Stephens (5-11) will be vying for backcourt minutes.
2010-2011 record: 9-11
Returning starters: Senior guard Meghan Hildreth (5-6) and junior center Lauren Eckholm (5-11).
Breakdown: Coach Diane O' Dwyer will miss the superior talent of guards Besi Shesi and Caroline Hildreth.
Both are playing in college now.
But Dwyer says the Lions — who return nine players with varsity experience — are a program on the rise.
"This year, we will be better," the second-year coach explained. "I think the girls are playing with a better attitude this year."
The backcourt is loaded with depth and the most notable player is floor leader Meghan Hildreth, who distributes well and defends aggressively. She averaged 12 points per game last year.
"Megan is our point guard, but we are trying not to put the pressure on her all the time," Dwyer said.
Senior Taylor Oliver (5-5) and junior Samm Stewart (5-3) will also log quality minutes.
Senior Madison Oliver (5-4) and junior Caroline Federico (5-4) offer additional backcourt depth.
The rugged Eckholm, who averaged 13 points per game last season, will anchor the frontcourt. She has a nice touch around the basket and is a solid rebounder.
Juniors CeCe Volker (5-10) and Sydney Hesselbein (5-7) and sophomore Kayln Crocetti (5-8) should help on the boards and inside offensively.
Senior forwards Justine Lago (5-5) and Flannery Carney (5-8) and junior forwards Rebecca D'Anna (5-5) and Maggie Weiskopf (5-5) also hope to contribute.
Notre Dame Prep
2010-2011 record: 20-4, IAAM B Conference champions
Returning starter: Junior guard Sydney Tommins (5-9).
Breakdown: Knowing that most B Conference rivals would like nothing better than to knock off the defending champs, the Blazers have steeled themselves to be on upset alert at all times.
Coach Katie Marks notes that her team is "young in terms of experience, but very deep in terms of leadership. We have many players who understand the expectations of what it takes to be a high caliber team."
With Tommins orchestrating the offense, NDP is in good hands. She is a terrific ballhandler and distributor with a knack for scoring as well.
With that said, the Blazers still must find other players to complement Tommins on the perimeter. The most likely candidates to do that are seniors Hannah Hartman (5-8), Becky Felmeister (5-7) and Sarah Kasun (5-4).
Down low, look for seniors Mattie Milchling ( 6-1) and Brenda Tester (5-9) and junior Angela Healy (5-9) to take charge.
While most of those players were in a reserve role last season, they appear to be ready for prime time.
"(Those) girls have been learning from great players before them, and are now ready to have their turn in the spotlight," Marks said. "Our team is very different from last year's, and we are still working on completely establishing our identity."
2010-2011 record: 13-12
Returning starters: Senior guard Daisy Alaeze (5-10), senior forward Christa Reese (5-9) and junior guard Beth Kelly (5-11).
Breakdown: While the Reds lost three starters to graduation, having Kelly and Alaeze back as anchors in a revamped lineup will help the squad navigate a rugged IAAM A Conference schedule.
"They drive the bus," Roland Park coach Scott Buckley said about his backcourt stars.
Kelly will run the point for the Reds — when Alaeze doesn't. Seniors Serene Mirza (5-3) and Betsy Angel (5-5), who scored 10 points in the fourth quarter of a season-opening victory over St. Paul's School for Girls, are other ballhandlers Buckley can bring in off the bench.
Freshman guard Francesca Whitehurst (5-6) will see plenty of quality minutes as well. Backcourt reserves include junior Haley Hauser (5-8) and sophomore Alexis Green (5-5).
Up front, freshman Michala Clay (6-1) and Lindsey Edwards (5-10) get the starting nod with senior Devon Hitt (5-11) and junior Erika Brager (5-8) in relief roles.
Sophomore Tatyana Carter (5-11) has yet to play due to an injury.
Kelly, who can use her long frame to get open for shots from the perimeter when she isn't distributing the ball, is a terrific complement to the high-flying Alaeze, a Virginia Commonwealth University recruit who does a little bit of everything for the Reds.
"Daisy is growing into her leadership role," Buckley said. "It's been great for the younger kids to see that."
2010-2011 record: 1-21
Returning starters: Senior guard/forward Katie Kreps (5-10), junior guard Eboni Dorsey (5-6).
Breakdown: This is a completely revamped squad with a new coach who took over after a year's hiatus.
Coach Jim Stromberg has eight freshmen on the varsity and four of them contributed nicely in the Gators' season-opening 43-39 overtime win over Mount de Sales.
Freshmen guards Kacie McNeave (5-3) and Alex Wright (5-4) will be counted on as mainstays in the backcourt, just as freshmen forwards Sharon Hull (5-9) and Jillian Randolph (5-11) will be contributors in the paint.
Junior Haley McDonnell joins the squad for the first time since tearing her anterior cruciate ligament as a freshman and swimming last season.
"She's a shooter," Mount de Sales coach Trish Armstrong said ,after McDonnell scored 10 points, including two three-pointers in the season opener.
Kreps is the only senior on the squad and she persevered from last year's tough season.
"I like her leadership, Stromberg said.
Varsity veteran Katerina Stavrakis (5-3), a sophomore, should help on the perimeter.
Her older sister, junior Gia Stavrakis (5-7), and seniors Curtira Williams (5-4) and Sydney Keogh (5-5) add backcourt experience, while freshmen Corinna Vlahoyiannis (5-10), Sarah Moehler (5-4) and Quinn Conrad (5-5) hope to get in the rotation.
"Our depth is really good and we have a lot of kids who can play two or three positions," Stromberg said. "We have a good young group and I think by the end of the year they are going to be pretty good."
2010-2011 record: 1-19
Returning starters: Senior guards Stephanie Frantz (5-8) and Denora Murray (5-6) and junior center Zsa-Maine Brookshire (5-10).
Breakdown: New coach Delvona Oliver brings some impressive credentials to the Generals.
The former University of Maryland center had short stints playing professional basketball in Israel and in the Women's National Basketball Association.
Her vast array of skills seems to be a good fit for Towson.
"There's a lot of work that needs to be done," Oliver said. "A lot of fundamental skills have to be taught."
Oliver will build her team around Frantz, a shooting guard.
"She is a tremendous player, and she is definitely going to be great," the coach said. "She can make her teammates better, shoot and play defense."
Frantz's backcourt mates will be Murray and freshman Anna Palmer (5-6).
Freshman forward Shelby Fragetta (5-8) and Brookshire complete the starting lineup.
Junior center Mary Genovese (5-10) and freshman Holt Lockwood (5-6) will work as the top subs.
Freshman guard Akira Smith (5-5), sophomore guard Madeline Tribbe (5-6), sophomore forwards Emily Heinlein (5-9) and Corrina Sanni (5-9) are competing for more playing time.
"They are so eager to get better," Oliver said. "They listen to every word I say. I love coaching them."
Oliver will be Towson's fourth head coach in four seasons.
"I think they know I want to stay, and that I am committed to the program," said Oliver, who replaces Rebecca Moyer.
2010-2011 record: 11-10
Returning starters: Junior center Akira Townes (5-10) and sophomore point guard Nece Whye (5-4).
Breakdown: New head coach Robin Willard left coaching for three years after guiding the Park varsity to Association of Independent Schools A Conference (1995) and B Conference (1991) championships.
Willard is now trying to make another successful run with the Bruins in the IAAM C Conference.
What makes his job easier? Willard, who will serve as co-coach with Larry Gilbert, has coached the Park middle school team for the past eight years.
"It was a pretty easy transition," said Willard, who replaces Kevin Coll. "With Park being a small school, we have know most of the kids since elementary school. I have watched these kids grow up."
The catalyst for the Bruins is Townes, one of six returning varsity players, who has established herself as a standout post player, averaging 11.1 points and 6.5 rebounds per outing last year.
Townes may be asked do even more this winter with the graduation of rugged forward Rose Coll, a four-year starter who averaged 11.7 points and 8.8 points.
"She is a real inside force, but can play a variety of positions," Willard said of Townes. "The kids follow her. She is a team leader."
Whye (5-4) could blossom as the floor leader. She takes over for the departed Zoey Mayers.
"She is a terrific defender, real good ballhandler and does a nice job of distributing the ball," Willard said of Whye.
Sophomore forward Clara Hollander (5-8) is also being counted on to make a significant contribution as a new starter.
Two other returnees, sophomore combo guard Sara Lessans (5-4) and Hannah Himmelrich (5-6), with sophomore forward/center Ellie Stern (5-10), a junior varsity call-up, are also in the starting mix.
Sophomore forwards Josie Olschansy (5-6) and Sam Rogers (5-6) and sophomore guards Liza Schoenberg (5-5) and Maddie Tracey (5-6) should provide solid minutes off the bench.
2010-2011 record: 13-7
Returning starters: Senior forward Asia Drake (5 feet, 11 inches), senior center Jakira Pearson (6-0), senior guard Shannon Drechsler (5-4), senior guard Briawna Jones (5-3).
Breakdown: With a wealth of experience, that includes nine seniors, the Vikings are lining up to be in the postseason picture.
"We expect to make a push for the county title and go deep into states," assistant coach Jeremy Russell said.
Senior forward Emily Wolford (5-6) is a strong candidate to join the starting lineup for head coach Erin Fortney.
She has varsity experience, along with senior forwards Sera Stull (5-10) and Elizabeth Hood (5-7) and guard Keirsten Beckelhimer (5-2).
Jones is the point guard for a backcourt that could play at a breakneck pace.
"We are going to play up-tempo with our guards," Russell said.
Juniors Channon Neville (5-2) and Allison Rowe (5-9) and senior Marissa Angeles (5-5) add depth to the backcourt.
Junior Channing Long (5-8) and freshman Crystal Njoku (5-10) bolster the inside game.
"Crystal should see significant minutes at forward," Russell said.
2010-2011 record: 18-7
Returning starters: Senior forward Rachel Schwaab (5-9), senior guard Kayla Gibson (5-1), junior guard Maddy Hunt (5-7), sophomore forward Taylor Barton (5-11).
Breakdown: Junior guard Deb Milani (5-7) joins the full-time starting rotation this season, after being the sixth man most of last season, making the Comets an extremely experienced starting squad.
Senior guard Heather Kendrick (5-5), junior center Danielle Francy (6-2), and sophomore guard/forward Shannon Tyler (5-10) also have varsity floor burns.
"The kids that have been with us for at least a year are moving quickly," coach Mike Mohler said.
One graduated starter from last season, Zoey Whittington, was the quickest player in Mohler's 18-year tenure.
Her departure takes away 15 points, 6.2 rebounds, 5.1 steals and 4.2 assists per game, but Mohler is counting on a more balanced attack to make up the points.
"We could have seven or eight girls averaging seven or eight points," he said.
If they can get consistent scoring, and the younger players learn the system, the Comets could be a dangerous team by postseason.
Last year, they lost to Hereford in a regional semifinal and didn't qualify for in the Baltimore County championship for the first time in four years.
During that span, the Comets have posted a 84-15 record with co-captains Schwaab and Gibson, two of three team captains with Kendrick, have been on the past three varsity rosters.
This year's Comets boast a trio of freshmen, including forwards Renee Gast (5-10), Lauren McDonald (5-6) and Maja Wichert (5-10).
Gast and Wichert join junior center Taylor Skidmore (5-10) and sophomore forward Maddie Schwaab (5-9) for inside depth while McDonald should see time backing up Milani at point guard.
Sophomore Breya Wallace (5-9) also bolsters the backcourt.
Mount de Sales
2010-2011 record: 20-6
Returning starters: Junior forward Gabby Cha (5-10)
Breakdown: Eight seniors graduated, including four starters, and a varsity player transferred after her freshman year, leaving the Sailors in a reloading mode.
Cha is the top returning scorer back from last season, when she totaled over 200 points.
She started this season with a game-high 14 points, including two free throws with 1.5 seconds left in regulation that gave the Sailors a 35-34 lead in 43-39 overtime loss to St. Paul's School for Girls.
"Gabby is a pure shooter," said coach Trish Armstrong, whose squad's 12-1 regular-season record last season was the best in the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland B Conference.
The only other returning varsity players from that elite squad are senior point guard Kara Hand (5-5), sophomore forward Eve Luckowski (5-9) and sophomore guard Lilly Robb (5-7).
The rest of the lineup are varsity newcomers, including sophomore Glenelg transfer Nicolette Jennings (5-10) in the frontcourt.
Senior Julie Gillis (5-6) and sophomore Sammi Gillis (5-1) add depth to the backcourt while junior Caroline Williams (5-6) brings a defensive presence to the hardwood.
Junior forwards Elena Salas (5-11), and Jasmine Couvillion (5-10), junior guard Katie Sauter (5-2) and freshman center Taylor Swenski (5-11) give depth.
"We have four varsity returning players trying to mesh with the younger players," Armstrong said. "We are a work in progress."
2010-2011 record: 23-8
Returning starters: Junior guard Stixz Wilson (5-6)
Breakdown: New coach Jody Powell takes over for Jackie Boswell, and inherits a team that lost three four-year varsity players and one three-year varsity veteran.
Powell, who coached the previous four seasons at D.W. Daniel High in South Carolina, watched her squad open the season with a hard-fought effort in a 49-44 loss to Elizabeth Seton.
Wilson was sidelined with a concussion and her leadership and scoring touch were sorely missed. However, the new cast of starters proved they will provide an up-tempo attacking offense and relentless defense.
"It's going to be fun to watch," Powell said. "We'll probably lose some games we shouldn't lose and win some games we shouldn't win. That's all part of the grind."
Besides point guard Wilson, others with varsity experience are senior guards Miracle Davis (5-7), Kahla McCormick (5-7) and Nesha Elliot (5-7), sophomore guards Brooke Fields (5-6) and Destiny Davis (5-7), junior forward Karli Zeps (5-9) and sophomore forward Karigan Awkward (5-9).
Fields, McCormick and Miracle Davis started in the backcourt in the opener, while Zeps and junior Hollie Booker (5-10) were in the paint.
Destiny Davis came off the bench to add a spark at guard with three steals and freshman forward Jade Porter (5-8) boosted the interior game with eight points and six rebounds to garner the team's 'hustle award.'
Junior forwards Danielle Veney (5-10) and Gannon Costello (5-9), and junior guard Haley Reibling (5-5) round out the squad.
The biggest obstacle is learning how to do things for the first time.
"We are trying to put in a whole new system, down to every inbounds play, and that's a lot for kids to learn," Powell said.
2010-2011 record: 20-4
Returning starters: Senior forwards Ateh Ade (5-11) and Jayde Duncan (6-0), senior guard Tyshay Montgomery (5-7) and sophomore guard Sydney Clopton (5-4).
Breakdown: After a 20-4 record in his first season as varsity head coach, Nolan Roe is excited about an experienced squad, that includes three senior veterans and Clopton, who were keys to last year's success.
Forward Geraldine Ezeka is the only other senior, but junior forward Daija Coles (5-10) and junior wings Shannon Staton (5-6) and Autumn Tapley (5-7) are also ready to contribute.
Sophomore guard Ebonee Dixon (5-8), is out for the season with a knee injury, which could open some playing time for the emergence of freshman Deja Dennis (5-8).
Freshman center Kaitlin Page (5-11) figures to blossom in the paint.
Catonsville High coach Mike Mohler, whose Comets host the Wolverines Friday, Dec. 9 at 5:15 p.m., is impressed with the neighborhood rival, saying "They are very, very good. They could easily be the best team in the county."