Senior guard Anna Cowan and junior guard Sammie Albornoz return to the team after taking a year off. Returning starter Anna Mitchell (6.2 rpg last year) will be joined by junior guard Alicia Hsieh, sophomore forward Kimmy Eads and junior guard Mary Anderson as key members of the rotation.
Dani Wilson and Kemba Mitchell are key call-ups from the junior varsity team and freshman Ally Driscoll should make an impact on the squad.
"We are hoping to get out and push tempo this year because we have good speed at several positions," second-year coach Bobby Macheel said. "We also have three returning starters, which will help bring some varsity experience and continuity to the court."
2011-12 record: 18-1, 24-2
Top players: Seniors Emily Russo (G), Sam Heisig (G) and Kristen Yuan (C).
What you need to know: There is good news and bad news for the two-time defending county and District V champion Gladiators. Last season's Player of the Year Emily Russo (16.2 ppg) is back to lead the way, but all-county selection and three-year starter Sam Heisig (76 three-pointers over last two seasons) will miss the start of the year after suffering a knee injury over the summer.
Yuan, who stands at 6-foot-3, and Howard transfer Jessie Doermann (5-foot-10) are expected to be forces in the post, while sophomore guard Megan Taylor is a 3-point threat on the outside.
Taylor Zucco, Coral Price, Chelsea Henggeler and Lauren Wright are all underclassmen that should contribute for coach Don Beall.
"We have four sophomores and two freshmen, so there will be some growing pains," Beall said. "The young kids will have to adjust to the speed of the varsity level but we'll be okay. We have a very good defense and good size."
2011-12 record: 1-18, 1-20
Top players: Seniors Andrea Baker (G) and Cambria Conley (G); junior Keyuana Griffin (G).
What you need to know: The Bears will field an inexperienced team this season, with several players that are entirely new to the program.
Baker and Conley are expected to be the foundation to build around. Hammond will have to compete early on without the production of Griffin, however, after she suffered a broken finger last week and is expected to miss significant time. Sophomore center Jameelah Wallace showed promise last season on JV and should be a bright spot for Hammond.
"We will have to play with a quicker tempo," coach Raymona Reid said. "We're guard-heavy, but very fast."
2011-12 record: 13-6, 17-8
Top players: Juniors Anne Kinsey (G), Sydney Biniak (C) and Emma Hoesman (G); sophomore Jayda Gilmore (G).
What you need to know: The Lions saw what began as an inexperienced team make it all the way to the Class 3A East Region championship game last season. This year, Howard returns several experienced players, but may be a little undersized. Biniak will be a big factor in the post after averaging nearly eight boards a game in 2011-12.