Return to glory?

Central had a string of six consecutive Public League championships snapped last season by Engineering and Science.

The Lancers, runners-up in Division AAAA North to Northeast, will try to return to the top of the mountain with an experienced lineup anchored by a trio of seniors: 6-foot-1 forward and center Janaa Pickard, guard and forward Brittany Harriott, and wing guard Renee Deas.

Deas, who averaged 13 points per game, was a first-team all-league selection. Pickard, bound for George Mason, and Harriott were second-team picks.

"I'm looking forward to a wonderful season," longtime Central boss Frank Greco said. "I think we have the potential to be very good."

The starting lineup is rounded out by point guard Najah Jacobs and 5-10 power forward Isabella Ross, both sophomores.

Challenging slate.

Central's nonleague schedule includes St. Hubert, Reading, St. Peter's (N.Y.), Germantown Friends and Methacton, which was 30-2 and runner-up in the PIAA District 1 Class AAAA tournament last season.

Over the holiday break, the Lancers will travel to Miami for the Junior Orange Bowl Classic. Their first-round opponent, on Dec. 27 at 5 p.m., is Lake Mary (Fla.).

Defending champs.

Engineering and Science, which beat Central for the Public League crown last season, must replace Keisha Hampton, now at DePaul, and seven other graduated players.

The Engineers went 25-5 overall, advanced to the Class AAA state quarterfinals and finished ranked No. 9 in Southeastern Pennsylvania by The Inquirer.

Taking Hampton's place as the go-to scorer is 5-9 sophomore pound guard Brittany Hrynko. The speedster, a top-notch penetrator, is receiving recruiting interest from the likes of Penn State, Syracuse and South Carolina. Hrynko is joined by Justine Davis and Aliyah Carr, both senior guards, and 5-10 freshman forward Yolanna Snypes.

Winning ways.

Bodine hopes to continue its recent success. The Ambassadors, 21-7 overall last season, have won back-to-back District 12 Class AA championships.

Chikilra Goodman, a 5-9 junior guard, is the catalyst for coach Carlos dos Santos. In her career, she has 770 points and 605 rebounds.

Others to watch are senior Kyianah Cole and sophomore Emerald Urie, both 5-10 frontcourt players. Senior Melanie Ortiz, a wing player, has a nice outside shot and is primed for a breakout season.

Like Ortiz, senior guard Samyiah Soto is ready to make a bigger contribution after coming off the bench for three seasons.

Fallen star.

University City senior standout Khadija Pennington, a terrific guard in an up-tempo scheme, is expected to miss the entire season after undergoing surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament.

That said, second-year coach Mike Edwards moves forward with a rotation that includes senior guard Desiree Lawrence, versatile 5-7 junior Antoinette Robinson and junior guard Quintana "Quinnie" Washington. The Jaguars' other leader is junior forward Shakerah Frye.

Coyotes on the prowl.

Franklin Towne Charter returns all five of its starters. That has coach Brianna O'Donnell confident about continued improvement.

The starting five is made up of point guard Megan Tuffy, wing guard Lauren Gillborges, small forward Danielle Morris, power forward Stephanie Cicalese and 5-10 center Paige Dolan. All are seniors except Tuffy, a junior.

"This team has many players with three or four years worth of experience, which should make a difference in close games," O'Donnell said. "The seniors are focused on finishing the season with a winning record."

- Rick O'Brien