For the seniors on the Mount de Sales girls basketball team who played on the varsity as sophomores, the climb up the standings has been steady in the Interscholastic Athletic Association B Conference.
Coach Trish Armstrong would like them to reach the summit.
“As sophomores, they made it to the [playoff] semifinals, as juniors, they made it to the finals,” Armstrong said. “They want this bad. They are really hungry.”
Last year’s 20-6 squad lost to St. John’s Catholic Prep, 45-39, in the IAAM B Conference championship game, after the third-seeded Sailors knocked off second-seeded Institute of Notre Dame, 51-34, in the semifinals.
Although shooting guard Bridget Williams graduated and reserve forward Sophi Wrisk transferred to Catonsville, the Sailors do have a slew of returning players.
Senior Abby Kuhn (5-feet, 10 inches) led the team in steals and rebounding last season.
She will get support in the paint from seniors Lizzy Gower (5-10) and Sydney Skalstad (6-1).
Skalstad led the Sailors in blocked shots, but was injured and did not play in regular-season losses to Catonsville and IND last year.
“She is huge for us,” Armstrong said. “She runs the floor.”
Another senior who will be just as important running the offense is point guard Allie Berlin (5-4).
She is not afraid to penetrate into the lane and shoot over taller players.
Berlin scored 15 points in a 47-29 victory over Notre Dame Prep in the quarterfinals of the IAAM B Conference tournament last year.
“I think she is a fabulous ball handler and I’m not sure she gets the credit that she deserves,” Armstrong said. “People look at her height, but I think she is dynamite. She will take this team on her back and she will make something happen when essentially there is nothing there.”
The Sailors also got a boost last season from junior forward Kristen Zaranski (5-8), who took over as the leading scorer toward the end of the season last year.
Seniors Sophia Stewart (5-5) and Justine Birrane (5-4) and sophomore Sloane Skalstad (5-8) should also see plenty of time off the bench.
A pair of transfers will also bolster the lineup.
Junior Rachel Krug (5-5) transferred from Dulaney High, where she was the leading scorer the past two years.
Combo-guard Maura Devine (5-7) transferred from Mount Hebron.
“Those two exceptional transfers are outstanding,” Armstrong said.
Rounding out the squad are senior Annie Kearney, junior Alex Sullivan and freshman Anya Walker.
“We’ve got a very experienced, veteran team,” Armstrong said. “I’m cautiously optimistic because there is a lot of hype about us.”
Mount de Sales opens the home regular season on Dec. 4 against Indian Creek (5:30 p.m.) before they open the IAAM B Conference season on Dec. 6 when they host Glenelg Country School (5:30 p.m.)
The Sailors will also play in the Catonsville Cup against defending state champion Catonsville at 3:45 p.m. at Catonsville High on Saturday, Dec. 16.