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Girls high school basketball preseason poll 2013-14

By Katherine Dunn, The Baltimore Sun

5:11 PM EST, December 4, 2013

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1. Aberdeen

Coach: Amber Milnes

Last season: 25-3, ranked No. 2

Postseason: Class 3A state champion

Outlook: Versatile All-Metro sophomore Stephanie Jones leads the way as the two-time defending state champs bring back three starters — none of whom is a senior. After going a combined 52-4 the previous two years with their only losses to nationally ranked opponents, the Eagles should continue their reign if they can replace the senior leadership that graduated and get solid minutes from the bench.

2. McDonogh

Coach: Brad Rees

Last season: 22-9, No. 3

Postseason: IAAM A Conference finalist

Outlook: The Eagles return every starter, including All-Metro point guard Danielle Edwards. Consistency will be the key against a tough schedule that includes Aberdeen as well as mixers in Orlando, Fla., and New York. Younger players will have to make key contributions, but the Eagles will challenge for the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference title they won in 2012.

3. Roland Park

Coach: Scott Buckley

Last season: 16-10, No. 7

Postseason: IAAM A Conference semifinalist

Outlook: Not only do the Reds have four starters back, but they return 11 varsity players who should give them plenty of depth. Roland Park has a good balance of inside and outside talent and in addition to its A Conference foes, the team faces a challenging non league schedule.

4. St. Vincent Pallotti

Coach: Rod Hairston

Last season: 12-14, not ranked

Postseason: IAAM A Conference quarterfinalist

Outlook: Hairston, who coached Eleanor Roosevelt to a record five straight state titles and then guided Bullis to the Washington, D.C., independent schools championship last season, takes over a talented Panthers squad laden with seniors eager to make a big move in the A Conference.

5. Milford Mill

Coach: DeToiya McAliley

Last season: 23-3, No. 6

Postseason: Class 3A North regional semifinalist

Outlook: The Millers return every starter, including All-Metro guards Dionna White and Qierra Murray, from the team that fell to City in the regional semifinals. With their quickness, inside-outside game and White's ability to make things happen, look for the Millers to make another run.

6. Poly

Coach: Kendall Peace-Able

Last season: 22-6, No. 8

Postseason: Class 4A state finalist

Outlook: After four trips to the Class 4A state semifinals and two title-game appearances, the Engineers are now in 3A and in a region with City and River Hill. With four starters back, look for the same stingy defense that held opponents to 39.2 points a game in last season's playoffs.

7. St. Frances

Coach: Jerome Shelton

Last season: 15-11, No. 10

Postseason: IAAM A Conference semifinalist

Outlook: Last winter, the Panthers rebounded from a couple of losing seasons that followed their seventh A Conference title in eight years in 2010. Always a quick, up-tempo team, look for St. Frances to contend again with three starters back and much more depth.

8. Reservoir

Coach: Kyle Sullivan

Last season: 17-4, No. 13

Postseason: Class 4A East regional semifinalist

Outlook: The Gators return four starters from a team that fell to Howard in a close regional semifinal. Led by Howard County's top returning player, senior forward-guard Zelor Massaquoi, they should have the firepower to make a run at county and regional titles.

9. Howard

Coach: Scott Robinson

Last season: 21-4, No. 14

Postseason: Class 3A East regional finalist

Outlook: Four of five starters return for the Lions, who fell to River Hill in the regional final. The Lions will be challenged in a balanced Howard County league as well as by a move to Class 4A, where their section includes all Montgomery County opponents.

10. City

Coach: George Petrides

Last season: 23-4, No. 5

Postseason: Class 3A North regional finalist

Outlook: The Knights, who lost to Aberdeen in the regional final, return strength at guard but graduated a lot of muscle under the boards, so rebounding will be a concern. Still, the Knights are the team most likely to challenge Poly for the Baltimore City title.

11. River Hill

Coach: Teresa Waters

Last season: 23-4, No. 9

Postseason: Class 3A state finalist

Outlook: With three starters lost, the Hawks might need a little time to develop the chemistry that helped them reach the state final the past two years. The defending Howard County champions have a strong backcourt duo to build on in the Collins twins, Julia and Jenna.

12. Catonsville

Coach: Mike Mohler

Last season: 20-4, not ranked

Post season: Class 4A North regional semifinalist

Outlook: The Comets have lots of strength in the backcourt and should run and press their way into a battle with Milford Mill for the top spot in Baltimore County. Among the returning players is senior team leader Taylor Barton, and they add 6-1 freshman Jen Gast.

13. Seton Keough

Coach: Jody Powell

Last season: 12-17, No. 11

Postseason: IAAM A Conference quarterfinalist

Outlook: Only five Gators return, but six freshmen already are pushing the veterans. That kind of competition at practice could help Seton Keough develop the finishing kick it lacked last season against its top A Conference foes.

14. St. Mary's

Coach: Terri Stellwagen

Last season: 22-3, not ranked

Postseason: IAAM B Conference champion

Outlook: After sweeping the B Conference last season, Stellwagen added A Conference teams McDonogh and Archbishop Spalding to the schedule. Experienced guards and better post play give the Saints a chance to repeat.

15. Patterson Mill

Coach: Holly Ismail

Last season: 21-7, No. 14

Postseason: Class 2A state semifinalist

Outlook: Coming off the first state tournament appearance in school history, the Huskies return a solid backcourt in junior guards Qalea Ismail and Sam Herman and add a couple of strong freshmen. They lack height, but could make up for it with athleticism.

Others considered: Arundel (15-8), Atholton (10-12), Institute of Notre Dame (11-9), Mount Hebron (17-7), Old Mill (15-8), Severna Park (15-9), South River (22-4), Winters Mill (8-14)