Playing with “total confidence” is something the 11-year coach said she wants to stress this winter.

Reid was simple in analyzing her squad’s chances as the season fast approaches. “We are just looking to contend,” she said. Still, when asked about Hammond’s chances against some of the top teams in the county, the coach didn’t shy away from the challenge.

“Everyone is a dark horse to me because they will hopefully be meeting a Hammond team that they have never seen before,” she said.

Look out for expected leaders like Jameelah Wallace, Lauryn Terry and Betsy Frekot in the paint, as well as Keyuana Griffin and Delaney Cannon in the backcourt. 

Howard

Coach: Scott Robinson

Last season: (16-3, 21-4)

Top players: Seniors Sydney Biniak (C), Emma Hoesman and Anne Kinsey (G); junior Jayda Gilmore (G).

What to expect: Scott Robinson is entering his third year with the Lions this winter. If his past success is any indication of what is to come, Howard could be in for a big year.

Sydney Biniak returns as a favorite for player of the year honors. The center led the county in rebounds last year and finished third in assists (3.1 per game). Following graduation, Biniak will play volleyball at the University of Maryland.

Also returning to a stacked Lions’ lineup are second-team all-county selections Jayda Gilmore and Anne Kinsey, as well as senior point guard Emma Hoesman.

The Lions did take a hit before the season even began when starter Jade Wells suffered a torn ACL.

Robinson acknowledged that the county could be up for grabs, as many upsets could be in the making. Though they will have to face the likes of River Hill, Mt. Hebron, Reservoir and other county favorites, the Lions will figure into the 4A classifaiton come playoff time.

After finishing second to the Hawks for the county title last winter, match-ups with Howard should be circled on every other county team’s calendar.

Long Reach

Coach: Kelli Cofield

Last season: (8-11, 11-13)

Top players: Seniors Imani Sanders (PG), Katelyn Peterson (G) and Gillian Engelbrecht (F); junior Alana Ratliff (G).

What to expect: Losing all-county guard Olivia Callahan to graduation will leave a sizable gap for the Lighting to fill, but coach Kelli Cofield said she is confident in the squad she has. Add two junior transfers to the mix, and the Lightning could be a surprise team in county play.

Like all coaches, Cofield said she’s always worried about the injury bug rearing its ugly head, especially since her team isn’t as deep as she’d like it to be.