C.H. East forward is fleet of foot
Backcourt speed is the norm for most basketball teams, but Cherry Hill East has a frontcourt player who can motor, too.
Tori Rossi, a 5-foot-10 senior forward, runs the floor like East's starting guards, Vianca Tejada and Catherine Tajeda.
"Tori Rossi is fast," East coach Kim Keyach said. "There's not another forward in the conference who can match her speed."
The Irish, who will be competing with Woodrow Wilson for the National Division crown, have a transfer student with whom their rivals are familiar.
Junior Shantel McNeil, a 5-9, guard/forward, is a fine defensive player who transferred from Wilson to Camden Catholic last season. The Irish are expecting McNeil to make an immediate contribution this year.
Serifat Junaid, the Irish's center, is a forward on her AAU team, Exodus NYC. She played for the Brooklyn-based team throughout the summer and now makes weekend visits. Juniad's older sister, Rashidat, plays at Rutgers.
The Minutemaids have a transfer from Paul VI, Victoria Jordan. The junior guard fits in well with the Wert twins, Dana and Shawna, with whom Jordan plays AAU basketball.
Royalty joined the Vikings last season when Genevieve Okuro made the varsity squad as a freshman. The immediate impact the 6-1 center made was evident, as the Vikes raced out to an unbeaten record. However, when Okuro traveled to Nigeria to attend the coronation of her uncle, the Vikes started to lose.
"Okuro missed nine games and we fell to 13-3," Eastern coach Joe Murphy said. "I've never seen a boy or girl have a freshman year that she had, the way she rebounds [99 offensive, 76 defensive] and her intensity and passion for the game." Okura shot 48.5 percent from the floor and 73 percent from the foul line.
Coach Tyshema Lane was disappointed to learn that one of her four returning starters, Shaquanda Gainey, decided to leave the team to compete in indoor track. "Shaquanda was our best defensive player and a good outside shooter," Lane said. "We were a lot stronger with her."
Coach Greg Martin said his team is aiming for a .500 season after going 2-23 last year. With four starters returning to the lineup, the Eagles have a chance to live up to the coach's expectations.
- Bill Iezzi