Last year, Williamstown's girls' basketball team played catch-up from the beginning after losing its opening game, 44-35, to Clearview. In the end, the Braves caught up and shared the Royal Division title with Clearview and Deptford. All three were 10-2 in the division.

This time, things have changed, and the Braves may be back in the favorite's role after defeating Deptford, 52-41, last week. Williamstown opened its season and Royal schedule with a 58-38 win over Clearview.

Clearview remains dangerous, and Deptford is again considered a contender in the Royal.

"Last year, we started 0-1, and it took us a while to get out of that," said Williamstown coach Karen Dilmore, who has guided the Braves to either a share of or the outright Royal title in four straight seasons. "We still have a long way to go, but it was a good way to get started."

The Braves are short on height, but not on athletic ability. There is no one taller than 5-foot-9 on the team,

Senior guards Jessica Martinez and Briana White are averaging 12 and 8.6 points per game, respectively, for the Braves, who dropped to 2-1 after Saturday night's loss to St. Basil in one of the many tournament games in Wildwood.

Williamstown, Deptford and Kingsway are considered among the main contenders in the Royal. On Jan. 9, Williamstown hosts Kingsway in what should be another test for both teams.

Injury update. Cherry Hill West's boys' team missed senior guard Darryl Nable, who sat out with a sprained ankle in the Lions' 60-47 loss to Emily Fisher on Wednesday. According to coach Dave Allen, Nable's status is "iffy" for tonight's game at West against Northern Burlington.

Nable, who is averaging 16.5 points, suffered the injury in Tuesday's 50-44 win over Eastern. According to Allen, Nable was only able to shoot and could not participate in the rest of yesterday's practice.

Defensive job of the week. Tiffany Turner was dominant on both sides of the ball in Cherokee's 53-40 win on Saturday over Penn Charter. The 6-2 Turner, who is headed to the University of Cincinnati, had 14 points and 10 rebounds.

According to coach Shannon Bretz, Turner also defended Brianna Butler, a highly touted 5-11 sophomore. Butler was held to seven points. Cherokee is No. 2 in South Jersey in today's girls' basketball rankings.

Interesting matchup. Lenape's boys' basketball team is hosting a showcase this week, and on Wednesday the defending state Group 4 champion will meet defending South Jersey Group 3 champ Kingsway in a 7 p.m. game.

Both teams graduated four starters, but each started off with a 2-0 record. Lenape will host Cardinal Dougherty (3-1) in tonight's 5:30 p.m. game.

"I didn't want to make it easy on us because it's our tournament," Lenape coach Chuck Guittar said.

Senior shooting guard Phil Jackson is leading a balanced scoring attack, having averaged 14 points in Lenape's first two wins.

Road trip. Shawnee's boys' team traveled yesterday to Disney World for a tournament. The Renegades met Pembroke Pines, Fla., in their first game last night.

Because of the inclement weather, Shawnee had been idle since an opening 63-51 win on Dec. 18 against Triton.

"We were hoping to have three games under our belt because some of these teams in this tournament have played 10 games," Shawnee coach Joe Kessler said. "This will be a great experience for us to compete in a tournament like this."

According to Kessler, Shawnee tries to make a holiday trip every other year. Four years ago, Shawnee competed in a tournament in San Diego, and two years ago, the Renegades also participated in a tournament at Disney World.

Crazy race. How balanced is the boys' Tri-County Royal Division in boys' basketball? No team has played more than two division games and six of the seven already have one loss. Kingsway is the lone exception.

Deptford scored a huge 60-56 overtime win over defending champion Williamstown last week after opening the season with a loss to Highland. Clearview beat Highland after a season-opening defeat to Williamstown.

Last season, Williamstown went 12-0 in the division, but it's hard to think of a team, even one as talented as Kingsway, running the table this season.