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High School sports

Baltimore Sun girls basketball preview: Storylines, players to watch and top 15 teams heading into 2022-23 season

Here’s what you need to know for the 2022-23 high school girls basketball season in the Baltimore area:

Storylines to watch

The expanding IAAM A Conference is deep.

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The addition of Mercy and Mount Carmel will bring more depth and competitiveness to the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference, as there are four or five teams that could compete for the league championship. There have also been several transfers in and out of the league, which could shake things up. Defending champion McDonogh is the favorite, but St. Frances and the newcomers have the talent and depth to present a formidable challenge.

It’s going to be a tough road in Harford County.

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The road to the Upper Chesapeake Bay Athletic Conference and regional championships will be a tough one. Fallston, the defending Class 2A state champion, lost 10 seniors. However, the Cougars have three players — Renae Gent, Natalie Wirth and Ayla Galloway — who all made major contributions last year and could lead the team to similar heights. Fallston will face a tough test from Harford Tech, which returns seven players from last year’s team and has high expectations.

River Hill's Taylor Shane, left, and Erin Devine celebrate after beating Mt. Hebron on Jan. 21.

The Howard County title could come down to the wire.

Howard County could have a five-team race between River Hill, Howard, Atholton, Hammond and Wilde Lake. The Lions, who lost to Poly in the Class 3A state championship, have put together a tough schedule, so they will be battle-tested. River Hill, which lost in the Class 3A state quarterfinals, is a perennial power and will also look to make a deep run in the postseason behind Taylor Shane, Dylan Watson and Mannat Gill.

Western and Poly are ready to defend their titles.

Both Western and Poly took home state championships last season from Baltimore City. Those squads have reloaded and are ready to defend their titles. For the Doves, 6-foot-3 junior Breasia Coit is a solid rebounder with soft hands, an accurate passer and becoming a consistent scorer. Several new players will bring competitiveness and energy to the team. The Engineers return several key players, including Division I commits Da’Brya Clark (Norfolk State) and Trinity Massenburg (George Mason), and will be tough to beat.

From left, Western guard Korteni McMurray, center Breasia Coit, guard Carrington Hairston and guard Maya Gray celebrate their victory over Clarksburg in the Class 4A state championship on March 11.

Baltimore County has plenty of power.

Baltimore County could be a five-team race between Hereford, Pikesville, Dulaney, Towson and Catonsville. The Bulls advanced to the Class 2A state championship last season, losing to Fallston, 57-56, in double overtime. However, Hereford could have the best player in the county in Lauren Kraft, who averaged 16.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 3.0 steals and 2.5 blocks per game. Towson has nine of its 13 players back from last season, including senior Leslie Howe, who averaged more than two steals per game. Dulaney is led by senior Sarah Szalczyk, who averaged 17.0 points per game.

Players to watch

Milan Brown, Mercy, guard, sophomore

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Brown averaged a double-double last season with 15.0 points and 10.0 rebounds per game. She was also stellar on defense with 4.0 steals per game.

Poly's Da'Brya Clark, left, tries to get off a shot with Howard's Samiyah Nasir defending during the Class 3A state championship on March 12.

Da’Brya Clark, Poly, guard, senior

The 5-7 junior led the Engineers in scoring with 10.3 points per game last season. The Norfolk State commit had 20 points, eight rebounds and five assists in a 60-37 win over previously unbeaten Howard in the Class 3A state title game.

Anyia Gibson, Harford Tech, forward, senior

Gibson leads a talented group of returning players for the Cobras. She averaged 13.0 points, 12.0 rebounds and 4.0 blocks last season, earning All-Harford County honors.

Myah Hazelton, Mercy, forward, junior

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The Magic will get a boost from Hazelton, who has committed to Virginia Tech. She averaged 22 points, 8.0 rebounds and 4.0 blocks per game last season.

Howard's Gabby Kennerly was named the Howard County Times Girls Basketball Player of the Year last season.

Gabby Kennerly, Howard, guard, senior

The 5-10 shooting guard averaged 14.9 points per game and led the Lions in field-goal percentage last season. She helped lead Howard into the Class 3A state title game.

Jenna Liska, Liberty, forward, senior

Liska has the versatility and skill that makes her a matchup problem on both sides of the ball. She was first-team All-Carroll County and CCAL last season.

Paris Locke, McDonogh, guard-forward, senior

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The small forward stepped into the point guard role and didn’t miss a beat last season, averaging 9.5 points and 5.4 rebounds per game. She had 24 points and five rebounds in the IAAM A Conference title game and is committed to North Carolina A&T.

Trinity Massenburg, Poly, forward, senior

Massenburg was a force for the Engineers last season, averaging 11.8 points, 8.6 rebounds and 2.3 steals per game. She is committed to George Mason.

Glen Burnie's Amourie Porter was named the Capital Gazette Girls Basketball Player of the Year last season.

Amourie Porter, Glen Burnie, guard, senior

Porter led the Gophers with 19.2 points and 2.0 blocks per game en route to being unanimously named the Anne Arundel County Player of the Year by the coaches. She committed to play Division I basketball at Cal State Bakersfield.

Makaela Quimby, McDonogh, guard, senior

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Quimby averaged 10.1 points and 4.0 rebounds per game last season. She is in the top three of the Eagles’ returning players in points, rebounds and assists and is committed to Wake Forest.

Preseason Top 15 teams

1. McDonogh

Coach: Brad Rees

Last season: 22-4

Postseason: IAAM A Conference champion

Outlook: The Eagles have reloaded with Anaiah Jenkins (Towson), Paris Locke (North Carolina A&T), Makaela Quimby (Wake Forest), Ava McKennie, Kennedy Umeh (USA U-17 National Team) and Autumn Fleary. McDonogh did lose two experienced senior starters and some early-season injuries will hurt, but an experienced group of returnees and the addition of talented newcomers at key positions should lead the way.

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McDonogh players celebrate their 77-65 victory over St. Frances to win the IAAM A Conference championship game on Feb. 21.

2. Western

Coach: Tasha Townsend

Last season: 19-3

Postseason: Class 4A state champion

Outlook: Western played most of last postseason with seven players but still averaged 70 points per game. Breasia Coit, a 6-3 junior, is expected to do big things this year and Maya Gray, a 5-8 junior, is a solid defender who plays well on both ends of the floor and has the potential to be a consistent scorer.

3. Poly

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Coach: Kendall Peace

Last season: 15-3

Postseason: Class 3A state champion

Outlook: The Engineers will look to repeat as champions with Da‘Brya Clark (Norfolk State), Trinity Massenburg (George Mason), Riley Holliday, Taylor Addison, Mickelle Lowry, Arianna Makumi and Sierra Georges back in the fold. “We expect to increase our level of tenacity while competing in the DMV and to secure college opportunities and maintain the momentum of the program,” Peace said.

4. St. Frances

Coach: Jerome Shelton

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Last season: 19-4

Postseason: IAAM A Conference finalist

Outlook: The Panthers had a run of five straight conference championships end at the hands of McDonogh. They have to replace Ja’la Bannerman, a first-team All-Metro pick last year, but should have enough depth to make a run at the title again.

5. Howard

Coach: Scott Robinson

Last season: 19-1

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Postseason: Class 3A state runner-up

Outlook: The Lions’ top returning players include Gabby Kennerly, Samiyah Nasir, Meghan Yarnevich and Jenna Vetter. “We have a very challenging schedule and our expectation is to play hard and continue to improve throughout the season,” Robinson said.

6. Glen Burnie

Coach: Sam Porter

Last season: 22-1

Postseason: Class 4A state semifinalists

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Outlook: The Gophers have key returning players in Anne Arundel County Player of the Year Amourie Porter, Lania Nick, Layla Washington and Aisha Soumaoro. The goal is to make a deeper run into the playoffs and compete for a state title.

7. Old Mill

Coach: Henry Fuller

Last season: 16-4

Postseason: Class 4A East Region I finalist

Outlook: The Patriots should be in the mix to compete for a state title. Old Mill has an experienced roster with Jemirah Brown, Neveah Brown, Amaya Douglas, NyAsia Futrell, MaKenzie Singletary and Amani Watts.

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Mercy guard Milan Brown is rewarded with the game's MVP trophy after a win over Maryvale in "The Classic" on Feb. 25.

8. Mercy

Coach: George Panageotou

Last season: 22-1

Postseason: IAAM B2 Conference champion

Outlook: The Magic made the jump to the IAAM A Conference this year. They expect to be competitive with five returning seniors, dynamic sophomore point guard Milan Brown and 6-4 Virginia transfer Myah Hazelton.

9. Manchester Valley

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Coach: Heather DeWees

Last season: 21-3

Postseason: Class 3A East Region I finalist

Outlook: The Mavericks have nine returning players, including senior forward Carmaya Bowman (Shepherd), junior guard Reese Kresslein and sophomore guard Emma Penczek, who is a Division I lacrosse prospect. Manchester Valley was 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 at least a 3.5 GPA.

Fallston's Natalie Wirth dribbles the ball up the court with Hereford's Jordan Peterson defending during the Class 2A state championship on March 12.

10. Fallston

Coach: Johnny Woods

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Last season: 24-4

Postseason: Class 2A state champion

Outlook: The Cougars lost some firepower from last year’s state championship team, but they do have three returning players in Renae Gent, Natalie Wirth and Ayla Galloway. They should be a force in the UCBAC again.

11. River Hill

Coach: Teresa Waters

Last season: 16-3

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Postseason: Class 3A state quarterfinalists

Outlook: The Hawks, under veteran coach Teresa Waters, will push for county, region and state titles again. They are led by Taylor Shane, Dylan Watson and Mannat Gill.

12. Hereford

Coach: David Schreiner

Last season: 18-3

Postseason: Class 2A state finalist

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Outlook: The Bulls lost two seniors from last year — Kayla Nieberlein and Jordan Peterson — but have three returning starters with Lauren Kraft, Gabby Nieberlein and Lauren Orner, along with seven other returning varsity players.

13. Pikesville

Coach: Michael Dukes

Last season: 20-4

Postseason: Class 1A state champion

Outlook: The Panthers have a veteran team that will start three seniors and two juniors. The top returning players are Jayda Mayles, Aliyah Taylor, Amya Moore and Tykeisha Hill.

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14. Forest Park

Coach: Jermaine Dunn

Last season: 18-3

Postseason: Class 1A state semifinalists

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Outlook: The Foresters have a talented group of players looking to make the state final. Aliyah Carroll can play multiple positions and will lead the team, while Chaniya Taylor is a strong interior presence who can block shots and step outside to hit midrange jumpers.

15. Harford Tech

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Coach: Brad Hunt

Last season: 15-7

Postseason: Class 2A East Region I finalist

Outlook: The Cobras have high expectations after returning seven players from last year’s team. The top returners are senior forward Anyia Gibson, sophomore guard Amya Goodsell and juniors Jessica, Sophia Mace, Jordan Strang, Sarah Hunt and Faith Orsini.

Others considered: C. Milton Wright (14-7), John Carroll (13-8), Liberty (13-8), Mount Carmel (18-4), Roland Park (13-8)


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