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Carroll County Times
Carroll County High School Sports

Carroll County 2022-23 high school girls basketball preview: Manchester Valley ready for county title defense

Manchester Valley's Carmaya Bowman, left, hugs Casey Meredith while Aubrey Chopper (13) and Josie Bauerlein (33) celebrate after beating Westminster in a Class 3A East Region I semifinal game on March 1. Bowman and Meredith are among the Mavericks' top returners as they aim to defend their Carroll County title.

Manchester Valley topped Carroll County last season, posting 21 wins and an 11-1 league mark. A 10-point loss early in the season was the only blemish in league play.

The Mavericks, however, ran into a buzzsaw in the Class 3A East Region I final, falling to eventual state runner-up Howard, who was unbeaten at the time and boasted a roster with multiple Division I college players.

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That same roadblock is likely to be there again this postseason, but Manchester Valley is primed to make another run to challenge the Lions. The Mavericks return a solid group, including first-team All-Carroll County Times selection Carmaya Bowman, who averaged 10 points, eight rebounds and two steals per game last season.

Manchester Valley has always prided itself on its defense, which was evident in its season-opening 32-23 win over Harford Tech on Monday.

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Liberty, meanwhile, beat rival Century for the Class 2A West Region I championship last season before being eliminated in the state quarterfinals in a three-point loss to Williamsport. The Lions lost last year’s Carroll County Times Player of the Year Jess Littlejohn, and the focus of the offense will shift to senior forward Jenna Liska, who’s committed to play at Division II Frostburg State next season.

Coach Barry Green will also count on the outside shooting of Dani Paulsen and Gigi Hall, as well as the quickness of guard Kourtney Goff.

Century should be a factor again in the county race, despite losing first-team All-County selection Eva Brandt. The Knights return Mia Graff (13.1 ppg, 6 rpg) and Harli Hamlett (5.0 ppg, 1.5 spg), who are fresh off a state soccer championship.

Two other first-team All-CCT picks returning are Westminster guard Abby Kindle (12.8 ppg, 40% 3-point shooting) and Francis Scott Key forward Ally Mathias (13 ppg, 9.7 rpg).

Century's Mia Graff looks to get a shot off with Francis Scott Key's Ally Mathias defending during a game on Jan. 5. Each is back to lead their respective teams in search of a county championship.

Here is a team-by-team look at the county:

Century

Coach: Danielle Fieni, fifth season

Last season: 14-10 overall record, Class 2A West Region I finalist

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Top returning players: Senior Mia Graff (F); juniors Harli Hamlett (G) and Hannah Duncan (G); sophomore Mackenzie Mowder (F).

Coach’s outlook: “We are excited to get the season started. We have a lot of hard workers who play well as a team. Defense and intensity are what we hope to encompass and take with us into the regular season. We are looking forward to the good competition that we will face within the county and working to play our best against every team.”

Francis Scott Key's Summer Brooks, left, drives toward the hoop with Century's Emma Gordon defending during a game on Jan. 5.

Francis Scott Key

Coach: TJ Develin, fifth season

Last season: 14-9, Class 1A South Region I semifinalists

Top returning players: Seniors Ally Mathias (F) and Rayna Miller (G); junior Drew Watkins (G); sophomores Summer Brooks (G) and Abby Rieger (G).

Newcomers to watch: Sophomore Caroline Kohr (F).

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Coach’s outlook: “We are very excited with where our basketball program is currently. We want to build upon our success from last season. This year we are looking to improve on winning more of the tough, close games. We will be as successful as we choose to be. We want to compete to win each game. We want to improve each time we step on the floor. Our goal is to be able to have a chance to win the county.”

Gerstell Academy

Coach: Shane Stem, sixth season

Last season: 14-5, IAAM B Conference semifinalists

Top returning players: Senior Marley Saunders (G); juniors Annie Jackson (F) and Eniyah Stinnette (F); sophomore Kiara Hardy (G).

Newcomers to watch: Juniors MiMi Delone (F) and Kate Roberts (SG); freshman Kendall Williams (PG).

Coach’s outlook: “With a great core returning from our historic season last year, we look to be highly competitive in the revamped IAAM B Conference. We have girls coming back from injuries and a few newcomers that give us tremendous depth and versatility. We plan to be aggressive on both ends of the floor, share the ball, and bring energy every day as we work to reach our full potential as a team. Fun fact, for the fifth consecutive season, we will have a freshman in our starting lineup.”

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Liberty's Jenna Liska tries to shoot while being defended by Century's Eva Brandt during a regional championship game last season.

Liberty

Coach: Barry Green, 11th season

Last season: 13-8, 2A West Region I champion, state quarterfinalists

Top returning players: Seniors Jenna Liska (F) and Dani Paulsen (G/F); junior Gigi Hall (G/F); sophomore Kourtney Goff (G).

Newcomers to watch: Sophomores Haleigh Hodges (G/F) and Paige McKnight (G/F).

Coach’s outlook: “We have a very challenging schedule and our expectation is to play with discipline and focus together and improve throughout the season. I believe Westminster and Manchester Valley will again be very well-coached, thus becoming our biggest in-county challenges, as well as the balance of our extremely talented county varsity girls basketball programs.”

Manchester Valley's Carmaya Bowman puts up a shot with Liberty's Jenna Liska defending during a game on Jan. 21.

Manchester Valley

Coach: Heather DeWees, 12th season

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Last season: 21-3, Carroll County champion, 3A East Region I finalist

Top returning players: Seniors Carmaya Bowman (F) and Casey Meredith (PG); junior Reese Kresslein (G).

Newcomer to watch: Sophomore Emma Penczek (G).

Coach’s outlook: “We have nine returning players but looking to replace the loss of two key starters: 3-point shooter Kyrsten Lucas, who now plays at Mitchell College, and the length of Taylor Leaman, who graduated. We are experienced this year with four seniors and six juniors and I have the ability to go 12 deep this year. Our defense is our anchor. Interesting fact, we were the only team in the state to have all 12 players receive the Maryland Basketball Coaches Association Maryland Academic All-State Award with every player earning a 3.5 and above unweighted GPA in the 2021-22 season.”

South Carroll

Coach: Jim Shea, fifth season

Last season: 6-14, 2A West Region I semifinalists

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Top returning players: Seniors Caroline Laur (F), Kylie Malone (G) and Shannon McTavish (G/F); sophomore Leah Miller (G).

Newcomers to watch: Sophomore Charlotte Harrington (G); freshman Harley McKee (G).

Coach’s outlook: “With eight returners and seven seniors, we have a veteran group. We are looking to work hard and get better every day. It should be another competitive county season. We have great players and coaches in the county and every game is tough.”

Westminster's Julianna Lesher shoots over Manchester Valley's Reese Kresslein during a playoff game last season.

Westminster

Coach: Dave Urban, sixth season

Last season: 15-7, 3A East Region I semifinalists

Top returning players: Seniors Abby Kindle (G) and Maddie Stauder (F); junior Jules Lesher (G).

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Newcomers to watch: Senior Emily Conklin (G); sophomore Maddie Gassman (F)

Coach’s outlook: “We’re looking for strong senior leadership from Abby Kindle, Maddie Stauder, Carlie Rosewag and Emily Conklin to influence a positive season, push the team to compete every possession, every game.”

Winters Mill

Coach: Jordan Neville-Witte, second season

Last season: 1-14, 2A West Region I quarterfinalists

Top returning players: Seniors Lauren Costello (C), Emma Hook (G), Jameson Toney (G), Sophia Vallandingham (F/G) and Carli Vogel (F).

Newcomers to watch: Juniors Tobi Olawale (F) and Tomi Olawale (G); sophomores Kaelyn Morton (G) and Janae Prior (G); freshmen Marissa Alomary (G/F), Cielo Balsamo (G/F) and Ryann Mays (G/F).

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Coach’s outlook: “Teams are not going to see us coming this year. We have been working all offseason and are ready to make a statement. We look forward to playing the teams that we closely matched up against last year. It will be fun to see all the girls’ hard work from the offseason pay off and [for] them [to] meet and exceed team and personal goals.”


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