Basketball preview: Competition should be fierce in all three conferences

Basketball preview: Competition should be fierce in all three conferences

By Nelson Coffin
nelsom@iaamsports.com

In the upcoming basketball season, two teams stand alone as the standard to which all of their peers aspire.

A Conference power St. Frances Academy and St. John’s Catholic Prep of the B Conference will both be looking for three-peats when the basketball season concludes on Feb. 18 at Stevenson University.

Indian Creek will seek its second consecutive C Conference title on the same day, making those three squads the teams to beat this winter.

Despite the dominance at the top of the standings by the Panthers, Vikings and Eagles, their conference rivals will take their best shots at changing the status quo this winter.

Check out the intel below on your favorite team.

MCDONOGH SCHOOL

COACH: BRAD REES

2016-17 OVERALL RECORD: 24-3

2016-17 A CONFERENCE RECORD: 10-2

PLAYERS TO WATCH:

Kayla Liles, 5’-10,” sr., guard

Taleah Dixon, 5-9, sr., guard

Aleah Nelson, 5-7, jr., guard

Jessica Booth, 5-8, jr., guard

AJ Davis, 6-0, jr., center

LOWDOWN: “We will have a very experienced starting group, but will need contributions off the bench to contend for another A Conference finals trip,” Reese said, pointing out that the Eagles’ tough out-of-conference schedule will test and prepare them for what should be a very balanced and competitive conference slate.

ROLAND PARK COUNTRY SCHOOL

COACH: SCOTT BUCKLEY

2016-17 OVERALL RECORD: 18-7

2016-17 A CONFERENCE RECORD: 8-4

PLAYERS TO WATCH:

Aniyah Carpenter, 5’-9,” sr., guard

Mir McLean, 5-11, sop., forward

Ja’ Niah Henson, 5-3, jr., point guard

LOWDOWN: Buckley said that the Reds return four starters and 10 players overall.

“We feel with what we have, and new players added, we should be in position to be very competitive in the A Conference,” he said.

JOHN CARROLL SCHOOL

COACH: CRAIG SIMMONS

2016-17 OVERALL RECORD: 12-12

2016-17 A CONFERENCE RECORD: 2-10

PLAYERS TO WATCH:

Savannah Simmons, 6’-0,” sr., point guard

Jordan Wakefield, 5-10, jr., forward

Julia Williams, 5-8, soph., point guard

Kirstin Huggins, 5-11, jr., center 

LOWDOWN: The Patriots are returning all five starters from last season, Simmons says, and, with five seniors and a pair of juniors on the roster, are looking to the upper classmen to lead us to a decent season.

"We expect to be better due to the continuity we are beginning the season with, unlike last year where we had four transfers and two freshmen coming into the program," he said. "The biggest key for us being competitive in the A Conference this year is health. Last year, we had a couple big injuries to key contributors that really derailed our season midway through. We will also need our youngsters to take the next step in their development to give us depth on our bench.

The final keys will be the continued All-Conference play of Kansas State commit Simmons." the coach adds. "With Savannah, (15.4 ppg., 6.5 apg.) garnering a lot of attention every game, the emergence of junior forward Jordan Wakefield will be able to shoulder some of the load during league play. Finally, sophomore guard Julia Williams will be relied upon to take the next step with her scoring and playmaking abilities."

ST. JOHN’S CATHOLIC PREP

COACH: BRIAN MARTIN

2016-17 OVERALL RECORD: 22-3

2016-17 B CONFERENCE RECORD: 12-0

PLAYERS TO WATCH:

Morgan Dombroski, 5’-8,” sr., guard

Mackenzie Holston, 5-6, sr., point guard

Sarah Yoda, 5-10, soph., forward/wing

Kayla Cooper, 5-10, soph., forward/wing

Tori Geitner, 5-5, jr., point guard

Julie Brisbane, 5-6, jr., guard

LOWDOWN: “We are really excited about this year's team,” Martin notes. “The kids are committed to each other and understand that for us to be successful we must play as a team. We are young and still learning each other, but we have had two great weeks of practices which has provided confidence boost for entire team.”

MOUNT DE SALES ACADEMY

COACH: TRISH ARMSTROMG

2016-17 OVERALL RECORD: 20-6

2016-17 B CONFERENCE RECORD: 10-2

PLAYERS TO WATCH:

Aliie Berlin, 5’-4” sr., point guard

Kristen Zaranski, 5-8, jr., forward

Lizzie Gower, 5-10, sr., forward
.
Abby Kuhn, 5-10, jr., forward

Syd Skalstad, 6-1, sr., forward

Rachel Krug, 5-5, jr., wing

Maura Devine, 5-7, jr., guard

LOWDOWN: With all five starters back (Berlin, Zaranski, Gower, Kuhn and Skalstad), and almost its entire bench from last season’s B Conference runner-up, the Sailors also add two exceptional transfers, Dulaney’s leading scorer last year, junior Rachel Krug, and Mount Hebron combo-guard junior Maura Devine. T

“The team speed and depth at each position has noticibly improved,” Armstrong says. “The Sailors can run and shoot, but the key to the team’s success will be maintaining defensive pressure and cohesion. “

Berlin led the sailors with 5.5 assists per game last season while Zaranski averaged a team-best 11 points per game.

Kuhn led team in steals (3.0) and rebounding (7.8) with Skalstad averaging four blocks per outing.

INSTITUTE OF NOTRE DAME

COACH: ROBERT DUBOSE

2016-17 OVERALL RECORD: 15-6

2016-17 B CONFERENCE RECORD: 11-1

PLAYERS TO WATCH:

Ja'lyn Armstrong, 5’-8,” sr., guard

Madison DuBose, 5-11, sr., forward

LaShyra Williams, 6-0, jr., forward

Eniya Russell, 5-10, sop., guard

Niyona Smith, 6-1, fr., center

LOWDOWN: After compiling a stellar 11-1 conference mark last season, the Penguins are looking forward to staying healthy to complete their mission, Dubose said.

With five seniors and eight of nine returning players, plus the additions of Russell and Smith, IND should be one of the top programs in the B Conference.

MARYVALE PREPARATORY SCHOOL

COACH: ALEX MILLER

2016-17 OVERALL RECORD: 10-11

2016-17 B CONFERENCE RECORD: 6-6

PLAYERS TO WATCH:

Molly McAleer, 5’-9,” jr., point guard

Claire Neff, 6-2, soph., shooting guard

LOWDOWN: Building around McAleer (16 ppg, 5 rbg.) and Neff (16 and 10) should give the Lions a solid foundation.

Seniors Marlee White, Alex Maki, and Julia Piet are four-year players who will provide depth and consistency to the unit.

“I am very excited about this year’s team,” Miller said. “We return two starters along with three seniors who bring outstanding leadership to our team. We have an optimistic group that enjoys playing basketball with each other, and I think we have an opportunity to do something very special.”

NOTRE DAME PREPARATORY SCHOOL

COACH: KATIE MARKS

2016-17 OVERALL RECORD: 9-13

2016-17 B CONFERENCE RECORD: 6-6

PLAYERS TO WATCH:

Mary Price Suter, 6’-0,” sr., forward

Annikia Meyer, 5-6, sr., guard

Nicki Swam, 5-3, soph., guard

LOWDOWN: “We lost three starters, but have added a lot of young talent, in addition to having Annika return to our lineup,” Marks said. “These younger players bring a lot of potential, so we're hoping that combining them with our five strong senior leaders will lead to a successful year. As always, defense will be our strength, but I think that our scoring will improve, and we look to be a much deeper team this year.”

ANNAPOLIS AREA CHRISTIAN SCHOOL

COACH: JIM DOMORACKI

2016-17 OVERALL RECORD: 11-15

2016-17 B CONFERENCE RECORD: 5-7

PLAYERS TO WATCH:

Reniyah Ross, 5’-8,” jr., guard

Morgan DeBeary, 5-5, jr., point guard 6.5 ppg, 3.0 apg, 4.4 spg

Camille Sims, 5-9, sr., forward 7.8 ppg, 6.8 rpg

Paige Adebo, 5-3, sr., guard 6.7 ppg, 3.1 spg

LOWDOWN: Ross (13.7 ppg., 8.2 rpg.), DeBeary (6.5 ppg., 3.0 apg., 4.4 spg.), Sims (7.8 ppg., 6.8 rpg.) and Adebo (6.7 ppg., 3.1 spg.) will lead the way for the seasoned Admirals this winter.

“The team will be deeper and more athletic with the addition of two transfers and two freshmen,” Domoracki said. “The team has had a good offseason, and is up for the challenge the B conference presents.”

SEVERN SCHOOL

COACH: LISA SMITH

2016-17 OVERALL RECORD: 8-15

2016-17 B CONFERENCE RECORD: 4-8

PLAYERS TO WATCH:

Jorryn Avery, 5’-6” sr., guard

Morgan Skinner, 5-11, jr., center/forward

Sydney Kirchenheiter, 5-6, jr., guard

Madison Skinner, 6-0, fr., center

LOWDOWN: The Admirals have nine returning players from last year’s young squad, with Avery (14.3 ppg.), Madison Skinner (8.3 ppg., 8.3 rpg.), and Kirchenheiter spearheading an aggressive defensive effort and uptempo style of play.

“We are excited and optimistic about the team’s potential this season,” Smith said. “We’ll look for leadership from veterans, and the junior class is deep and brings a nice mix of height and quickness.” Newcomer Madison Skinner brings height and experience in the paint.”

ST. MARY'S HIGH SCHOOL

COACH: CHUCK MILLER

2016-17 OVERALL RECORD: 7-16

2016-17 B CONFERENCE RECORD: 3-9

PLAYERS TO WATCH:

Mackenzie Kadrabeck, 5'-6," sr., guard

Whitney Albert, 5-10, jr., guard

Maggie Aumiller, 5-10, jr., guard/forward

Elizabeth Gilman, 5-9, jr., guard

Bryce Pfundstein, 5-9, jr., forward

Claire Richardson, 5-6, jr., guard

LOWDOWN: Albert is the returning leading scorer (14 ppg.) while Pfundstein is the returning leading rebounder.

The Saints also boast depth in 5-5 junior guard Bridie O'Sullivan and 5-6 classmate Shelby Sullivan also in the backcourt.

Sophomore 5-10 forward Macey Brenner is up from the JV along with four freshman, 5-8 guard/forward Karry Kelliher, 5-9 forward Catherine Gilman, 5-5 guard Amanda Roy 5-5 guard Ashley Roy.

"With only one senior, we are a relatively young but experienced team with four returning starters," said Miller, a longtime coach at Severn School before taking time off. "The new players on this year's team should give us depth. We expect to be be competitive in this year's B Conference and hope to continually improve until tournament time in February."

MERCY HIGH SCHOOL

COACH: STEVE ANDERSON

2016-17 OVERALL RECORD: 6-13

2016-17 B CONFERENCE RECORD: 3-9

PLAYERS TO WATCH: 

Rachel Huebler, 5'-10", sr., forward

Kaia Edwards, 5-8, sr., guard

Ada Tempert, 5-5, jr., guard

 

LOWDOWN: "This season, we are primed and ready for a deep run," Anderson said, noting that Seton Keough transfer Jasmine Franklin gives the Magic a major boost by bringing game experience to a team that already features seasoned players in Huebler and Edwards. "We will have strength at every position. Tempert's speed will be hard to match and our team tempo will be fast. With our 'we-vs.-me' mentality, we will compete with everyone in the league."

ST. TIMOTHY'S SCHOOL

COACH: VERNON HARRIS

2016-17 OVERALL RECORD: 5-11

2016-17 B CONFERENCE RECORD: 2-10

PLAYERS TO WATCH: 

Mia Bryant, 5'-6,” sr., forward

Duru Tasman, 6-2, sr., center

Sevval Istanbulluoglu, 6-2, jr., forward/center

Jada Johnson, 5-6, fr., guard

Jasmine Johnson, 6-0, fr., forward/center

Bri Rider, 5-8, fr., guard/forward

LOWDOWN: St. Tim's will be lead by two strong senior returnees to the front court. Bryant and Tasman, 

Now that they are captains, the duo should be ready to propel their collegiate basketball careers with a strong final high school season, Harris said.

A transfer should help as well.

"Sevval Istanbulluoglu joins us in her junior year from Turkey having earned MVP as a top forward of the World Games," Harris adds. "Sevval can play anywhere on the court and, will lend us her basketball savvy, strong shooting ability, and more."

Three stellar freshmen with great basketball experience. Jada Johnson, Jasmine Johnson and Bri Rider, are AAU standouts who will bring confidence and energy to our squad through their year-round basketball experience, Harris said.

The roster is rounded out by two athletic senior returners, two sophomore returning guards and three newcomers to the varsity.

OUR LADY OF MOUNT CARMEL

COACH: ROB LONG

2016-17 OVERALL RECORD: 5-16

2016-17 B CONFERENCE RECORD: 2-10

PLAYERS TO WATCH:

Stephie Long, 5’-1”, sr., guard

Ariana Alleyne, 5-5, jr., guard

Ayana Brim, 5-10, jr., center

Shanysse Alexander, 5-10, soph., forward

LOWDOWN: “We are in our second season in the B Conference,” OLMC athletic director Mike Naunton said. “We expect to win some of those close losses. Our young ladies are high character young ladies and they've worked hard to improve.”

He added that Brim is a two-time All-Conference performer.

“We expect another big year from her,” he said.

Long and Alleyne, Naunton said, lead a very solid back court with Alexander ready to step up yet again in her sophomore year.

INDIAN CREEK SCHOOL

COACH: JAMIE COOK

2016-17 OVERALL RECORD: 21-2

2016-17 C CONFERENCE RECORD: 14-1

PLAYERS TO WATCH:

Maddy Evans, jr., wing

Delaney Dignam, jr., forward,

Kara Mathews, jr., guard,

Paige Wells, jr., guard,

Niya Harden, sr., center

Sydney Williams, sr., forward

Taylor McCuiston, sr., forward

LOWDOWN: The Eagles return seven players from last year's championship squad, and have aspirations of returning to the final, but will have to rely on returning players until newcomers Megan Bunker (fr., wing), Janeiyah Cajudoy (fr., guard), Charlotte Dickinson and Kaitlyn Hopkins (sr., center) get in the flow.

BRYN MAWR SCHOOL

COACH: MIMI WALTERS

2016-17 OVERALL RECORD: 14-7

2016-17 C CONFERENCE RECORD: 12-3

PLAYERS TO WATCH:

Natalie Maranto, 5’-3,” sr., point guard

Maia Faraone, 5-10, sr., forward

Virginia Oursler, 5-10, jr., guard/forward

Carolina Mills, 6-0, forward

LOWDOWN: Walters says that the speedy Taranto, who runs the show, is a great ball handler who averaged six points per game last season while

Faroane is a strong defender looking to be more offensive minded this winter after an injury forced her to miss the last half of 2016-17 season.

Oursler, the coach said, is a very athletic rebounder, who led the Mawrtians with a 9.2 points-per-game scoring average.

Walters added that Mills has a “nice touch” in the paint.

THE CATHOLIC HIGH SCHOOL

COACH: MIKE SHIRK

2016-17 OVERALL RECORD: 9-12

2016-17 C CONFERENCE RECORD: 8-6

PLAYERS TO WATCH:

Madison Liggett, 5'-6," soph., guard/forward

Meghan Brandt, 5-6, jr., guard

Kate Walz, sr., 5-6, guard/forward

Sydney Robinson, 5-7, sr., forward

Sierra Stark, sr., 5-3, guard

LOWDOWN: By returning four starters from last year’s 8-6 team, the Cubs are looking to build on a second-round round exit playoff exit from last winter.

“We are very deep at the guard position and will look to use our athleticism to push the tempo and try to generate transition points,” Shirk said. “Defensively, this team has the potential to be very special.”

Catholic opens against multiple teams from the B Conference in order to get a good idea of what needs to be worked on heading into conference play in mid-December.

FRIENDS SCHOOL OF BALTIMORE

COACH: KEN ZALIS

2016-17 OVERALL RECORD: 5-15

2016-17 C CONFERENCE RECORD: 2-13

PLAYERS TO WATCH:

Carli Freeman, 5-7, sr., forward

Katie Capizzi, 5-3, sr., shooting guard

Bria Randolph, 5-8, jr., small forward

Hannah Goodenough, 5-9, jr., forward

LOWDOWN: With the entire team back this year, and the growth we showed once healthy down the stretch last season, the team should take another step forward, coach Ken Zalis says.

“We have made basketball fun again at Friends, and hope that will show up on the court this season,” Zalis said.

He also noted that players are playing other sports in college, such as Carli Freeman (lacrosse at Johns Hopkins), Katie Capizzi (softball at Towson) and Charessa Crosse (lacrosse at Temple).

“The team and school is very proud of them and excited with their continued commitment to the girls basketball program at Friends,” Zalis said.